Five Questions about Urgent Translation Projects

QA Session Between a Translation Agency and a Client Who Wants to Place a Rush OrderAlthough urgent projects are something that every stakeholder in a project wants to avoid, they are sometimes necessary. When this happens, clients may have the questions discussed in this post.

I have an urgent translation. I realize quality might be lower than normal, but I still want to be sure that you will do a good job. Will you?

That is a valid question.

First, you must realize that urgent equals suboptimal, and quality is no exclusion. So be prepared for lower quality.

Second, even though quality is more difficult to ensure in urgent projects, we do our best to apply the same level of effort as with regular projects. That means that we work more hours in a business day, rather than taking hours away from editing or automatic quality assurance tasks, unless the project is too urgent to allow that.

If your deadline is so tight that something will have to give, quality will inevitably take a hit, and we will make that clear upfront.

I want to pay after receiving the translation. Can I do that?

Even though your fears of late delivery or non-delivery are understandable, we cannot afford the risk of having to collect the money afterwards, because urgent projects are already challenging and stressful enough. We can agree to payment after delivery, only if you are a long-term customer. With new clients, we normally ask for 100% upfront payment for urgent projects. It is not uncommon for a rush job to be cancelled as quickly as it was placed, and clients who cancel projects may be reluctant to pay for the work already done, let alone cancellation fees. Since we do not want to chase you after a canceled job, we prefer receiving payment upfront. Depending on the circumstances, we might reduce the upfront payment amount to 50%.

Do you charge a cancellation fee for rush projects?

Normally, no. In rare cases when we are unsure about your rush project, we might suggest such a fee, though. If we choose to do so, we will definitely let you know, so that this does not come as a surprise to you afterwards.

I thought translators could translate 2,000 or 3,000 words per day. Why are you asking for a rush fee to translate 6,000 words in two days?

There are several reasons. First, even though a translator can indeed translate this amount of words in two days, translation is not the only task a regular translation project involves. Preparing a project, assembling a translation team, and other project management tasks also take time, sometimes even as much as translation itself.

Second, if you want normal quality, you need to buy a translation that is edited by another linguist. Suppose a translator is indeed able to translate your 6,000 words in two days. But then an editor will also need time, at least one day, to edit the translation and confirm the edits with the translator. Whenever editing is involved, the rule of thumb is to divide the standard translator productivity at least by 1.5. In this example, you get 3,000/1.5 = 2,000 words per day.

Third, and perhaps the most important, our translators, editors, and project managers might be too busy at the moment to start working on your project right away. This means that to take on your project and still be able to honor other commitments, we will need to work more hours in a day than normal and be compensated for this at an “overtime” rate. If this is the case, we will also quote another deadline—our preferred deadline—without a rush fee.

What rush fee should I expect?

The surcharge depends on the circumstances, mainly the deadline. But an average surcharge is 50%.

You can also learn more about urgent translation projects in the article “What Constitutes an Urgent Translation Project?“.

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