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Tips for Vetting Document Translation Services Partners

Jan 20, 2021

There are typically three important elements to consider for any translation project. These comprise the lens through which you should evaluate all document translation services partners:

  1. Cost
  2. Turnaround time
  3. Quality

Each of these factors is individually important, yet all are intertwined. Balance will always be crucial, but the wrong partner can cause at least one of these elements to suffer, and the consequences may be dramatic. The most expensive partner may deliver higher-quality translations that could take too long to complete. Conversely, the cheapest, fastest provider may only achieve a low price point by cutting corners at the expense of translation quality. The goal, of course, is to ascertain which partner can provide the best quality translation in the fastest time at a reasonable price. So, here are some useful tips to zero in on the ideal partner for your business translation needs.

Where will your translated content be used?

The first thing to consider is exactly how your end translations will be used. What’s at stake if quality suffers? For example, translation quality issues in internal HR communications across international office locations may produce mild implications, whereas high-stakes applications such as user instructions for a medical device could endanger patient safety or lead to costly recalls. On the other hand, in high-volume applications such as legal discovery, your goal may simply be to achieve a general understanding of the contents of documents to determine which will require more detailed translation.

Ultimately, not all document translation needs are equal. Determining the initial and final applications for your translations will guide your priorities for speed, quality, and price.

Review the translation company’s level of experience & expertise

Experience and expertise are crucial when it comes to selecting the right document translation partner. Not only do these factors improve accuracy, but each variant impacts things like turnaround time and overall project management. Beyond a general professional track record, drill deeper to discover whether or not your document translation services provider has experience in your specific industry and target country, all well as controls in place to ensure quality and on-time delivery. Use these questions to probe whether or not they can truly deliver the service levels you require:

  • How long have they been in business?
  • How much experience do they have in your specific industry?
  • Do they specialize in certain areas?
  • What are their linguist qualifications? Is their QA process ISO-certified?
  • Are their linguists based in-country where your translation/s will be used?
  • Do their linguists possess special expertise/backgrounds in this subject matter?
  • How do they track linguist performance?
  • Can they provide references from current clients in industries similar to yours?
  • Can you review translation examples from your industry or target country?

Benefits of centralizing your translation projects

Centralizing your translation projects with a single provider has several critical benefits:

The more your document translation services provider knows about your projects, the faster they can react to your requests and help you adopt a more proactive stance toward future translation needs. For example, an experienced partner can collaborate with you on style guides and termbases that improve consistency and turnaround times for upcoming projects.

Controlling the number of translation partners you engage with also delivers higher levels of consistency across all your translated documents (ex. website, marketing materials, manuals) and throughout the countries in which you operate.

Ultimately, it’s in your best interest to centralize your translation projects because using disparate vendors can create information silos that lead to inconsistencies, elevated costs, and redundancies.

Look for guidance in authoring content

Getting a head start on translation begins in the initial content creation stage, and quality translation partners can also help ensure your writing is authored for easy translation. Ask potential document translation services providers about their level of expertise in technical authoring and publishing software such as MadCap Flare. Can they provide best practices for creating translation-primed source content from the start?

Take advantage of machine learning & translation tools

Long-term relationships go beyond just understanding and anticipating your organization’s translation needs. Continual engagement with the same provider can deliver measurable cost- and time-savings benefits.

For example, Morningside uses advanced, client-specific Translation Memory tools, allowing us to leverage previous translations. Each client’s data set expands with use, further increasing the amount of content not requiring new translation. Sophisticated tools like these deliver greater consistency over time and across translated materials, while simultaneously lowering costs as the amount of content requiring new translation drops.

Time invested up-front pays off

Selecting the best document translation services partner(s) requires an initial investment of time and attention. Do the research, schedule the calls, ask questions and evaluate responses. High-quality translation companies will be happy to provide you with the depth of documentation and information you request. They understand the critical importance of balancing quality, turnaround time and cost, and they, too, want you to achieve the highest level outcomes.

Ready to streamline your next document translation project? Our experienced translators and project managers can help.

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