5 Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Translation Partner

by Chelsea Ramage

Choosing a translation partner

Gaining a competitive edge in your organization's international expansion is fundamental to growing your company. How do you outperform your competitors, increase global market share, and enhance client satisfaction? Utilizing translation and localization is a start. So how do you know you have found the right translation partner? Ask these five questions.

Question 1: Who does your translations?

Do your translators speak in native tongue - the language you are targeting and where they should be located? Clarify that the translators who would be working on your projects are native speakers of the target language, as well as living in that target country. This step will guarantee the content is not just translated, but localized to the target country you are translating for. 

Some companies will employ translators, hire freelancers, or work with partner organizations. Employing a translator in-house restricts you from fully localized text. Even an accurate translation could sound confusing if not properly localized to your target country. Freelancers circle the globe, making it easy for them to be recruited for a quick job. However, those freelancers may not be around for your upcoming translations. Your language service provider should have a consistent workflow utilizing the same translators each time you have a new project. 

Question 2: How is your translation process handled?

Translation and localization are unique services. While there may not be a science as to which company structure will align superlatively with your goals, there are some key components that an agency should offer. 

Your translation service should appoint a project manager to be your go-to person for anything related to the project. Questions are bound to arise as your translation service works to deliver you a thorough, high-quality project.  

Ideally, your project manager would be your same project manager that you would work with on an ongoing basis. Building familiarity with who you are working with is important so that the translation provider can learn your business. The company's in-country translators should not only translate your materials, but edit and proofread them as part of the process. Be aware of companies that want to charge you more for different levels of quality. Your projects should always include the steps of translation, editing and proofreading.

Question 3: Do you have any references?

Make sure to ask for references when looking for a translation partner. Check to see if they have any case studies and/or testimonials on their website. Hearing what other clients have to say about your prospective partner will give you a better sense on who you want to work with. References help the decision making process in a number of ways. You will learn:

  1. which services the company specialize in
  2. how much experience the company has in the industry
  3. the level of their client relationships

Seeing how long a company has been working with another demonstrates experience in consistent quality and service. As you read through case studies, take note of the established client relationship.

Question 4: What differentiates you?

Each translation provider you reach out to will be slightly different from the other, making it even more important to investigate differentiation between competing brands. Identify what will help your company achieve its objectives. 

Multilingual Desktop publishing. Many languages, especially those that don't use roman scripts, don't display content as it should be without adjustment. Languages, such as French or Spanish, "grow" whereas other languages, such as Simplified Chinese, "shrink." Additionally, the Arabic language is read right to left which will require all the more extensive formatting. You want your translated materials to look as close as possible to the original format.

Up-to-date technology tools. Technology tools speed up the translation process, reduce errors and benefit your organization by providing a translation memory and glossary. Translation tools are not machine translators, but a means to facilitate accuracy during the translation process. 

Sense of partnership. To build a trusted, partner-centered relationship, you should seek a translation company that is client-oriented. This way, you know you can rely on the company for the long haul and trust that they will provide translation recommendations when needed.

Question 5: What are your values?

Educating yourself on company values can give a better idea as to how your potential translation agency will do business with you. Find a language service provider that is passionate about their role so you can build a relationship as your organization continues to expand globally. Ask to speak to multiple team members so you can get a feel for their culture and who would be working on your projects. From a translation perspective, it is beneficial to have multilingual employees to assist in the quality assurance process.

Translation vendors offer various services, so when it's time to choose one, talk to them about your needs and make sure you are working with a company that will customize a solution specifically for you. No matter what language you are localizing, look for a long-term partner that you can depend on.