Sending a translation job all at once and sending the same job in batches over a period of time are two very different scenarios. This article lists some of the advantages and drawbacks of the batch approach.
Pros of splitting a translation project into batches
- Ensuring timely delivery. The single most important advantage is having an interim delivery schedule that dramatically reduces the risk of late delivery, compared to receiving the entire translation on the last day. By breaking a project into batches with interim deliveries, you help your vendor overcome Parkinson’s Law more easily; that is, you combat the natural tendency to procrastinate. Batches also allow you to monitor progress more closely and intervene early if you encounter problems, such as the vendor’s not following your instructions.
- Lower cost. If you calculate, or ask your vendor to calculate, translation memory match statistics for each batch using the TM from the previous batches, you are likely to benefit from the so-called internal fuzzy matches, i.e., pieces of text that are very similar to other text in this project. When you analyze the entire project against a TM initially, they appear as new words, because there are no matches yet. But as translations are added to the TM with each new batch, more matches appear and those matches become eligible for hefty discounts.
- Shorter deadline. Internal fuzzy matches can also shorten project turnaround. A project that originally looked like 100,000 new words may eventually turn into a project with just 50,000 new words and many internal fuzzy matches, making a shorter deadline possible.
Cons of breaking a translation job into pieces
- Lower quality. Unless you have a technology or a process that allows your vendor to make changes to the already delivered batches, quality takes a hit. With each new batch, the translation team understands the project better and almost invariably realizes that some translations in the previous batches need revision. If you do not make it possible for them to make revisions, errors in the already delivered files will remain.
- Making the project more challenging for the vendor. Although an interim delivery schedule is good for you and lessens the risk of procrastination, your vendor may not see it as positively as you do, because interim deliveries can be a challenge. One example could be a project with closely related files that are split into different batches, making it more difficult to translate the related files coherently.
- Delays. If you are going to send each new batch after the vendor delivers the previous one, you will likely create delays between batches, causing inconvenience for your vendor. No one is happy waiting for another part of the project that is delayed.
- Lower profit for the vendor. Every dollar you save thanks to internal fuzzy matches is a dollar saved at the cost of your vendor’s profit. Personally, I believe that it is fair to let the vendor benefit fully from internal fuzzy matches. However, analyzing each new batch against the TM from the previous ones so as to cut costs is sometimes unavoidable, such as with projects that contain a very large number of internal fuzzy matches.
- Lower vendor availability. When you send the entire project to your vendors, you have them commit to the entire project. However, if you send a project piecemeal over a longer period of time, that commitment will not necessarily be possible. Your vendor will likely ask for longer deadlines than you expected or may be unavailable. It is unreasonable to expect from vendors the same level of commitment in this case as they would have with a large project sent all at once.
Breaking a translation job into batches is a very practical approach as long as you think it through and mitigate the drawbacks. Your main goal is not to make partial deliveries too problematic for your vendor. Your reward will be timely delivery of the project or even lower costs.
For more information, read the article about reducing translation costs through internal fuzzy matches and the article about splitting a project between several translators.