If you’ve ever stopped to wonder why your translation project seems to bust your budget or timeline, chances are you may have a few challenges that can be smoothed out and improved.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself…


1.   Are you translating your copy too early?

If your content isn’t final, you may want to think twice about translating right away. There are cases where it is necessary to start translating before the content is final, and there are workflows to smooth out the process while reigning in the budget, but in general, if you are going to be updating your Source, you will also need to have your Targets (translations) updated as well.

Keep in mind that your translation provider should be storing all your translations in a memory database, so you shouldn’t need to repay for the material you’ve already translated. That said, when you make updates, even changing one word, the text will need to be reviewed and/or updated by the translator and editor, which can end up being costly. Those changes (and costs) are multiplied for every language you are translating.

Bottom Line: It’s best to wait until the copy is finalized, if possible.


2.   Are your changes or updates necessary?

In relation to translating your copy too early, are the updates you are making necessary? Often, those who are responsible for writing the Source content aren’t involved in sending the material for translation. Therefore, those writers may not realize what impact their changes have on the cost and timeline of translation. Wordsmithing is a common cause of busted translation budgets. Changes to the source that don’t really change the meaning can incur unnecessary costs. Here are a few examples:

Original English: Connecting with your Customers

New English: Connect with your Customers


Original English: Speaking Straight

New English: Speak Straight

In the above examples, the client has decided to alter their section headers in a help manual, switching from using a present participle verb to an imperative verb. One could argue that the difference in meaning is slight. This change, though, will have to be reviewed and retranslated by your translation provider. In the first case, where one word changed out of four, it would qualify as a fuzzy match and carry a discount. However, in the case of the second example, because the change is 50% of the phrase, it wouldn’t qualify for any Translation Memory (TM) discounts.

It is important to think about the necessity of the changes, what impact they will have on my audience, if any, and whether that outcome is worth the extra cost of retranslation, perhaps multiplied several times if translating to more than one language.

Bottom Line: Try not to wordsmith.


3.   Are you using multiple translation suppliers?

In large organizations, the translation effort is often dispersed by division or department. Centralizing your efforts to use only one translation supplier can save you a lot of cost and time, not to mention having a great impact on consistency and quality.

By utilizing one supplier, you will be able to maintain a very solid TM. And no matter which department has a project, they all can benefit from the translation memory already built. This will lead to cost savings and maintain consistency across all products and documents.

The TM your provider has built from your translations is also your property! If you decide to switch translation providers, you can ask for your TM and give it to your next supplier to receive discounts and maintain consistency in your terminology, even when working with a new team.

Bottom Line: Choosing one trusted provider is your best bet!


4.   Is your workflow efficient?

An inefficient workflow will kill your budget almost immediately. Your translation provider should be able to offer guidance on the most efficient workflow for your project. We always advise our clients if we see a better process; we want every project to run as seamlessly and efficiently as possible, despite the number of steps, file type, or other project complexities. Just because a project is complex doesn’t mean it should be inefficient. eLearning projects, for example, have quite a few steps in the workflow and usually dozens of people involved in the translation process. A streamlined, proven workflow will keep everything running smoothly and within budget.

A few questions your provider may advise you on regarding different project workflows:

When is the best time to do the client review? – doing the client review earlier in the process as opposed to the very end, the final copy will certainly keep costs at a minimum. If the review happens at the very end, chances are your provider will need to manually incorporate changes into the TM and into the final product. Doing the client review earlier in the process (Argo Translation does this right after translation in a bilingual Word file), the manual work is at a minimum. The reviewed file can easily be imported back to the TMS, and the project can carry on with very little interruption.

When should Voice Over be recorded? – this is an important question. VO is very difficult to edit, if not impossible. Usually, if the VO is recorded too early in the workflow, it will need to be redone if changes are requested. The ideal time to record the VO is only after the client review has taken place and all scripts are confirmed and approved. The VO budget will certainly be busted if changes to the source (or translation) are requested after recording.

When should UI be translated? – UI should be translated before the user manual if possible. Waiting to translate until after the manual has been translated will significantly increase time and cost. The translation team will have to go back into the user manual and review everything, looking for UI and then updating each segment. If the UI is translated in the beginning, it can be stored in the TM, and the translation team will easily be able to incorporate the proper translations in the user manual as they go.

Are your screenshots localized? – If there are localized screenshots, the best method is for those to be provided to your translation team. Logging into the software/program to grab those screenshots ahead of time will save time and money. If your translation provider is tasked with recreating localized screenshots by using Photoshop or another tool, that will certainly add to the project's costs and timeline.

Bottom Line: Efficiency = Savings!


Hopefully, these questions can help guide you to a translation process that is successful in all aspects of your budget and timeline. Check out our continuation of this discussion, “Why Your Translation Project Is Late & Over Budget - Part 2,” for more tips on how to successfully complete your translation project on time and within your budget.

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