In an earlier post, we listed and commented on five of the most common problems with translation projects. You can read the results here. Today, we’ll go over the rest of our findings and offer more insight.
In Part 1 of this post, the top translation problems fell into two general categories – technical problems and lack of a “good fit” between your translation provider and your business.
Today’s list continues to raise technical questions regarding quality and available services. We hope this list and our comments will help make sure that you’re getting professional service.
6) “Our translation company talks a lot about quality but occasionally falls short of our expectations.”
Quality can be easy to talk about but harder to deliver. Ask your vendor or potential vendor about their translation process, their quality assurance (QA) process, service continuity (during poor weather for example), translator credentials and procedures for escalating problems to a resolution.
7) “We spend too much time trying to explain technical details to our translation provider.”
A good language service provider (LSP) uses translators with specific experience in your industry. This means the translator already has experience with your industry, knows its specialized terminology, and knows any language or cultural issues that determine how things need to be worded. Your translator might even be a part of your industry; for example, a bilingual nursing student translating instructional materials on diabetes equipment.
8) “I have been frustrated by translation companies that do a poor job formatting, or are unable to format, the materials that they translate.”
Multilingual desktop publishing (DTP), i.e. layout, formatting and graphics, is challenging but necessary. Some languages expand into more words than your source and others contract into fewer words. This can change the placement of words and graphics. It can also be hard to work with languages that have characters instead of letters. Still, DTP services are critical. It’s a good idea to ask if your LSP offers them.
9) “Our current translation vendor can translate most, but not all, of the languages we need in order to grow our business.”
The translation industry is very diverse. Some vendors specialize in a single language, others specialize in a family or families of languages, and there are also full-service LSPs that can work in virtually any language. While each has its merits, a full-service LSP is your most flexible choice.
10) “Important business deadlines have been missed waiting for documents (sites, forms etc.) to be translated.”
Deadlines are critical to your success. Are the quotes you get accurate and realistic? Did things change once you sent your LSP the source files? Sometimes you need to cooperate to make sure a project stays within the scope of the quote. Does your point of contact work well with their contact person at the LSP?
Translation can be a valuable service when done well and profitably for both you and your provider. With knowledge of these issues, you have the ability to start some dialogue and make sure the process is effective.