Translation Agencies: Big Fish Or Small Fish?
The secrets of choosing a translation agency
The pond of translation can be mythical place to fish. Whatever document you are looking to be translated, choosing the correct “language service provider” is vital. Translation agencies can provide services which individual translators are unable to offer because of lack of resources, such as coordination of large projects.
The question, like in the title, is quite simple. Which translation agency should we choose to ensure quality? It is nearly like taking your car to a mechanic. You can never tell what’s going on under the hood. If you do not speak the language you want your content to be translated in, how can you ascertain quality and make translators accountable for the errors.
Brian McConnell, a writer for the Globalization & Localization Association, wrote an impressive article in which he highlights the following:
“I generally recommend that customers avoid the big three companies unless they are going to generate six to seven figure annual budgets. The reason isn't that the big translation companies are bad, it’s just that their incentive is to focus on large accounts or accounts that might grow quickly. You’ll get more attention and better service from small and mid-sized companies, and as noted above, new tools make it straightforward to manage multiple providers, and to do much of the project management yourself.”Keeping this conclusion in account, I would like to discuss a few myths regarding translation agencies that are best to be avoided since they prove to be more harmful than good.
1. The bigger the better:
NO, size does not matter. Having thousands of translators and hundreds of languages does not necessarily mean the end result is going to be of good quality. Let the specialists do what they are good at, instead of choosing the generalists who usually support clients with large data to be translated who are willing to invest thousands of dollars in translation. Small providers ensure better customer service, interaction and hence accommodate the needs offering solutions to any problems.
2. All I need is a translator:
The best of the best writers count on editors to proof read and double check their work. Likewise it is not just a translator you require; so it is best to choose an agency where a project manager can double check someone’s work to ensure proper formatting. A smaller agency however will allow clients to directly communicate the complexity of the job; a project manager has profound knowledge of what the client requires. Most of the time the translation is reproduced by a single translator whereas larger agencies might choose to divide the content in chunks among a few translators to ensure faster turnaround.
3. The more the merrier:
Over a certain time, when clients coming back due to the rapport they have built and the service provided, translators become familiar with the requirements of the client. They know the writing styles, tone and message the client needs. When you do not use the same translator or small group of people for translation, consistency begins to slip. It is a wiser choice to stick to a dedicated team of translators for recurring projects to ascertain maximum quality.
4. Quality check for quality control:
All the large translation agencies invest huge amounts for hiring staff; project managers and sales representatives etc and building a quality assurance department. It’s all wrong investment and wrong focus.
- The quality check department will flag as many errors as they can to prove they work efficiently and translating department needs improvement
- Producing translation is a time consuming task already, who wants to waste time in marking errors and re-producing translation.
Therefore instead of wasting both time and money on quality assurance it is rather wise to focus on producing a better translation from the beginning. Smaller agencies tend to focus on building a skilled professional linguistic team, instead of investing in expanding, hiring a bigger team, marketing etc. Which is exactly why “quality assurance” department is rarely needed at smaller agencies; all the need is another set of eyes to check or proofread their work to establish quality.
5. Communication is a two-way street:
Sometimes the source content is highly compels; in such scenarios translators assume the intended meaning of the client and translate content according to their knowledge and experience. Whereas in smaller translating agencies a dedicated project manager or translator has built a strong two-way communication. This enables them to reach out to source in case of any ambiguity in the content to be translated. It is better to monitor quality level by maintaining closer contact.
6. Translation you asked; “translation” you got:
If a sign says “car wash”; there exists a lot of ambiguity in the sign. You don’t know what a car was includes for the specific service provider you are at; it might or might not include car polish, interior cleaning, seat luster etc. Similarly if you ask for a “translation” you can never be sure if there’s a professional editor, proof reader, trans-creator for crating technical and complex drawings and figures included or not.
7. “The more you pay; more you get” or may be not!
Some large companies re-format your source documents as part of the standard rate while others charge extra for that. They even charge you for faster turnaround, and there rates vary from language to language (obviously; the more the staff the higher the expense). Smaller language service providers, on the other hand, have substantially lower expenses to cover since they have fewer employs, project managers, sales representatives etc. Consequently these agencies charge lower and competitive rates.
The mere purpose is to highlight elements that, I believe, will benefit both private clients and companies. In fact it is important to understand that quality does not lie in typos and misspellings; it rather lies in the actual meaning of the content. From a buyer’s perspective a good translation results in the form of the impact it is able to make, grater brand awareness, more customer, more page views, more downloads and more sales. Contrary to deceitful advertising, quality of service is not directly related to the size of the service provider that is providing the service. Quality of service is usually directly related to the experience that service provider has.
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