We do a lot of estimates for clients. Over 17 years we have done close to 15,000 translation estimates. Properly setting a budget for a client is key to setting the tone for a successful project.

So why start off with in an incomplete picture?

A large number of new clients come to us with PDFs or a hyperlink in search of an estimate. We can certainly come up with a budget from that type of information but the odds of getting the estimate correct are slim when you aren’t using the actual source files. Here are four important reasons for always providing source files for your translation estimates.

1. Establish a true word count

Having the source files allows the language service provider to accurately establish the true word count of the files. This will help create an accurate estimate and timeline for the assignment. This is especially true for web projects. Often times a client will send a hyperlink and ask for a quotation on that site. Is the entire site going to be translated? How about forms? If forms are translated how will you respond if the incoming text is in a foreign language? How many levels of your site will be translated? What about linked PDFs? How about any embedded text in graphics or animation?

By providing source files you create a specific boundary around your project which will allow you to get multiple quotes with confidence. If you just provide a hyperlink to three vendors for quotation you will get three completely different scopes in the quotations.

2. Establish a true idea of repetitions and translation memory matches

By providing source files the language service provider can analyze the files against translation memory and come up with a breakdown on cost for new words, repetitions, 100% matches and fuzzy matches. Even if you are a new customer you may realize significant discounts due to internal repetitions in your project. You can learn more about how translation memory works in this past blog post.

3. Uncover any hidden issues in the project

Having the source files allows for a clear picture of any issues that can come up during production. For web projects, project managers can get a clear picture of the resources included in the project including text embedded in images and animations. Important topics related to workflow can be covered like how the content will come out of the website and how it will flow back into the site. We would also encourage a discussion on how the site will be updated going forward.

Print or documentation projects bring up questions related to any text embedded in images, replacement of screen captures with translated or localized versions, use of different fonts for languages with extended character sets (which Simplified Chinese font would you like?), etc.

These conversations can’t take place unless the project manager can understand the starting point – the source files!

4. Get a quick start to your project

The good news is that putting this extra effort in on the front end will allow for a quick start after approval of the estimate. All production related questions will have been resolved at this point!

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