Survey Says…The Top Ten Translation Problems – Part 1

Working with new clients and speaking with potential clients, we noticed many of the same issues showing up. We put the ten most common problems into a survey to see how widespread they are. Popular response confirmed these issues happen frequently. Since most of the problems go back to the basics, we thought it would be useful to share them along with our commentary.

People using translation services have spoken. We hear you loud and clear!

Good service comes down to solving problems and meeting basic business needs.

Whether you’re considering translation services for the first time or you already work with a provider, we’d like for you to be aware of the following issues. They are the building blocks that help you get the best service and return on your translation investment.

1) “My company could probably benefit from having materials translated, but we’ve never done it and are uncertain how to begin.”

A good provider doesn’t just explain how the process works. They’ll ask you questions and consult with you to determine what should be translated and what languages you need. You want a partner, not an order taker.

2) “I see many documents, sites and other materials that our company could translate to help grow our business, but hasn’t.”

Your provider should be able to give you advice and help you make your business case. Do they have case studies and helpful articles available?

3) “We worry that a translation company won’t understand either our industry and terminology, or the context of what needs to be translated, or both.”

This is a very important concern. Be especially careful of technical translations (where expertise in the specific subject is crucial) and marketing translations (where product/brand names, puns or a play on words can be disastrous if translated word-for-word).

4) “Our translation services provider could do a better job streamlining their process to match our process and needs.”

Your provider works for you – not the other way around. That being said, there are some simple changes you can make to save money overall. It would be irresponsible of your provider not to make you aware. However, everything you do should not revolve around your provider’s workflow. If you feel too much burden is placed on you, it probably is.

5) “We should get a better price for the volume of material translated.”

Definitely! Computer-aided translation (CAT) tools such as translation memory let your provider capture previously translated words and phrases. When they show up again in other projects, they can be translated for significantly less. If properly managed, these tools should reduce the price of high volume translations over time.

In Part 2 of this post, we’ll look at the remaining five on our list of most common translation problems and briefly explain why each is important.

Image by Flickr user Zach Klein

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