A global company providing banking infrastructure solutions contacted us recently with a request to improve a translation another agency had made for this company. It was a marketing document translation. The client had it reviewed by one of its employees in Russia, and that individual said the translation wasn’t very good. The client asked the translation agency to fix the issues, but the agency said it didn’t have the resources to make it sound better. For the client, this meant losing the entire investment in this translation. Moreover, the client also paid for the DTP services. As a result, the translation they didn’t even like had been already typeset. Now they had to start all over again and find someone capable of getting the job done.
Translation Buyers’ Challenges
This sad story represents some of the common challenges around buying translation services. Many clients don’t know what their expectations are. What they typically say is “I just want to have this text translated into Russian.” But as you can see from this example, “just wanting something translated” may not be enough to get what you really want. As a result of unclear expectations, clients don’t take the time to find a vendor that’s right for them and explain their specific requirements to that vendor. In the meantime, vendors fail to communicate important information upfront such as the level of quality they can provide. What are some of the best practices to tackle these challenges?
Best Practices for Buying Translation
- Use freelance job sites with caution, in particular the cross-functional ones that provide different skills under one roof. You may end up choosing a vendor who looks great and has many positive testimonials, but when rubber meets the road, he/she may turn out to be a jack of all trades and not a professional translator. Dedicated translator sites are probably a more reliable source of vendors. But because it’s so difficult to see the difference between the offers you get through these sites, you might be tempted to pick your vendor just by the price tag. To avoid that, make sure to do your due diligence.
- Take the time to know your potential vendor. Read the vendor’s blog and social media profiles. Talk to the vendor. If your translation is important to you, then act like it is. Translation requires your involvement just as a profitable investment in a stock does.
- Ask for a sample translation before committing to an entire project. Have that sample translation reviewed by the individual who’ll review the entire translation after it’s completed. If he/she doesn’t like the sample, you’ll lose just a fraction of what you can lose on the entire project.
- If you’re translating something that needs typesetting (e.g. with Adobe InDesign), have the translation reviewed by your in-country reviewer before typesetting. Finalizing translation only makes sense when you like it. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time and money.
- Make sure you learn the lessons. For example, if you got burnt because you set an extremely challenging deadline for your vendor, don’t rush again next time. If you thought low cost was more important to you, but then realized what you got as a result was garbage, put quality first next time.
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