Tight deadlines are quite common in the translation industry. The reasons behind them certainly vary and are generally justified such as an urgent need for translation because a delivery truck is detained at the border due to an untranslated bill of lading. However, my experience with English to Russian translation suggests that deadlines sometimes might be unreasonably short. For instance, I can remember situations when we had just 2 days to translate about 6,000 words (while the industry average is arguably 2,000 words per day) and then waited for weeks before the typeset or reviewed files arrived. Another example is website localization: given the complexity of the process, especially when multiple languages are involved, it is a quite lengthy process. I occasionally check with the sites we translated recently to see whether our translation was made available correctly, and from what I have seen so far, the average time between translation delivery and publication is around three months. Meanwhile, the time provided for the translation step of the process is typically just a few days or weeks, i.e. disproportionately short. It is therefore our experience that reasonable deadlines are in fact possible in many cases, and in the final analysis, they are beneficial to both clients and translators. This post is intended to discuss some of the reasons in support of this belief.
- For me, quality has always been the most important reason. Translation is not a pizza delivery that can be sped up by simply asking the delivery man to ride faster and straight to your home, skipping other clients en route. A translator can hardly shift into a higher gear without sacrificing quality. In particular, putting pressure on a translator to deliver faster than they normally would leads to incorrect understanding of the source text, less attention to detail, reduced editing and proofreading time, which all add up resulting in lower quality. If you want a high-quality translation, it might a good idea to let your translator establish a deadline they find reasonable to do a good job.
- We normally add a certain percentage of time to each deadline to account for potential delay risks such as a translator getting sick, power outage, or hardware failure. Obviously, when such risk occurs while you are translating urgently (and therefore have no cushion of time), you are bound to miss the deadline. And no matter how pressing the deadline is, this will still damage your reputation. In other words, the risk of late delivery, hence reputation damage, is much higher with tight deadlines.
- Velior is usually likely to provide discounts for jobs with longer deadlines as they increase our flexibility by enabling long-term planning and accepting other jobs within the same time frame. The results are reduced downtime and higher efficiency, which can be normally reflected in a discount to recognize and encourage the client’s flexibility.
- As a company, we also need to develop new translation talent, including graduates and interns. Involving them in actual jobs at the translation step (of course such translations are subject to thorough editing) is an important part of their individual development plan. Tight deadlines greatly reduce such on-the-job training opportunities, as these translators need more time than the seasoned ones. This may hinder talent development to a certain extent, which in a long run may have a negative impact on the entire industry.
In addition to a reasonable deadline, a translation can also benefit from a higher price. You can read why in this post.
If you want your translation vendor to be as punctual as you are, check out our English to Russian translation services.