This post is a continuation of our discussion on how customers can combat translation project challenges that are making their projects late and over budget. In Part 1, we covered the challenges surrounding writing your copy too early, making unnecessary changes throughout the project, using multiple translation providers, and using inefficient workflows.

Here are a few more questions to ask yourself if your project is still late or over budget…


1.   Are you using multiple or perhaps, unqualified reviewers?

Having an internal reviewer can be a great way to gain buy-in on your translation efforts. A qualified internal reviewer can add great insight regarding preferences on client-specific terminology. Those preferences can be carried forward on future projects when stored in the TM. A problem can arise though if multiple reviewers in the same language are utilized.

Translation can be quite subjective, and every writer has their own style. The focus of the client review should be on the broad message and the terminology. Sometimes stylistic changes are requested, and you can work with your provider to incorporate those changes. However, if multiple reviewers are being used, they each may have their own preferences. We’ve seen reviewers make changes to translations that other reviewers already approved, as well as reviewers offering conflicting changes regarding terminology.

There is usually a small fee to incorporate the internal reviewer step. Your translation provider will review any recommended changes, verify that they are grammatically correct, and incorporate the changes back into the final project and TM. If the internal review is faulty because there are too many conflicting changes this will increase the amount of time your translation team will need to review and implement the changes. More time means more cost.

Besides having a single reviewer, it’s important that they are qualified to review the material. Simply knowing another language is not sufficient. This reviewer must have a solid understanding of the preferred terminology for their language and company.

In short, one qualified reviewer (per language) should be nominated as the spokesperson for the review and terminology.

Bottom Line: Use qualified, unbiased reviewers for the best outcome.


2.   Is your document translation friendly?

Is the file you want to translate a PDF or an embedded image? If so, try to get access to the Source file it was created from. InDesign, Illustrator, Word, XML, and HTML are all examples of source files. An image or PDF is output from those source programs. When translating, it is critical to work from the original source file. Translation management systems will be able to analyze the files easily, prepare for translation and deliver your translations in the same format provided. If a PDF is an output you require, your translation provider will be able to also produce that once translation of the source file is complete.

One note on Illustrator, if you usually outline your illustrator files it is important to keep an un-outlined version as well. Since outlines essentially turn your text into an image, your provider will need access to the un-outlined/editable version to translate. If that isn’t available, they’ll have to recreate the image which will bring extra time and cost to the project that could be avoided.

Bottom Line: Work with a true Source file.


3.   Are you comparing apples to apples?

Even if budget is the most important deciding factor, when you are comparing quotes, it is very important to make sure that the quotes are equal in all other aspects. There are many different workflows and levels of service that can be included in the quotation. When we hear that another quote is significantly lower than ours it is usually because the other quote isn’t offering the same level of service we are. Argo’s standard workflow is our highest level of service which includes translation, an independent editor, and a final linguist review (if DTP is needed). Other agencies' standards may be very different. Their standard service may be to only have 1 translator, no independent editor, no final review by a qualified linguist, etc. Or their standard service may even be Machine Translation or Machine Translation with an editor. These service scenarios are very different in terms of cost and quality.

Take a look at the wording on the quote. Does it specify how many steps are in the workflow? Does it tell you how many linguists will be working on the project? Does it mention if MT is being used? Wording like “Translation of X” is very vague. It can mean anything from MT to translation with a single translator, so if you receive a quote like that, it is a good idea to follow up with your provider and ask for clarification of what that entails.

An example of a project description on one of our quotes:


We are happy to offer many different solutions to fit your translation budget and we like to talk to our customers to ensure the quality you are expecting is in line with your budget. And of course, you aren’t paying for additional work that is unnecessary. Our quotes are transparent, showing you exactly what you are getting. Our project description will outline the level of service and we will also show a breakdown of the project steps. For the above example, the project had the following steps:

  1. Project Management
  2. Translation
  3. Editing
  4. Page Production/DTP
  5. Proofreading
  6. Quality Assurance

If you are receiving quotes from multiple providers, it is important that you ensure that each quote is encompassing the same services. If there is a large difference in price or timeline, chances are you may not be comparing the same services. Reach out to your supplier to verify any information that is vague or unclear.

Bottom Line: All translation quotes are not created equal.


Hopefully, these questions can help guide you to a translation process that is successful in all aspects of your budget and timeline. In the end, translating your material should be helping you gain revenue or communicate, don’t let a busted budget or timeline erode those efforts.

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