How to Choose a Translation Partner

How to Choose a Translation Partner

Category: Translation Services

If you’ve found yourself wondering, “How do I choose a translation agency,” you might be asking the wrong question. You don’t want “just another” translation company. What you need is a partner who can customize a scalable localization program that helps you achieve your overall growth strategy.

Finding the right localization vendor can be difficult. Wading through the technical jargon, scope details and pitches is a steep learning curve for the uninitiated. Some understandably skip directly to the most easily identifiable point of comparison: the price quote. However, that can be risky if your company’s brand, global product launch or multimillion dollar deal is tied to the localization effort.

Savvy buyers ask prospective translation vendors the right questions before they even get a formal proposal and evaluate their competence and service levels during the sales process. By doing this, your company has an opportunity to predict its future experience with that vendor.

Here are the top five considerations for how to choose a translation partner, before you even ask for pricing:

  1. How experienced are you or your company with translation and localization services?
    This will determine whether you need a full-service, one-stop shop, or if you just need to buy translation services piecemeal. Do you have a dedicated internal expert or team to coordinate the process? Are your marketers, developers or writers well versed in creating global-ready products and information? These answers will also help you determine if you want an agency to follow your direction or if you’ll need to lean on them for advice.
  2. How do you want the vendor to fit into your overall editorial or product development process?
    Understand your goals and ask how they would help you achieve them. You’re choosing a partner who will play a key part in creating your international brand, ensuring timely global launches and participating in your overall success overseas. Make sure they share your vision and their process aligns with yours.
  3. Is the agency’s approach a good fit for your goals?
    Take a very close look at each of the prospective providers. Meet with the localization firm’s key employees to review their approach to your plans. Then, choose one that fits well with your organization and goals.
  4. What value can the translation agency add?
    Even the most experienced companies have opportunities for improvement. Look for a vendor that will make suggestions to help you get more efficient. One of the many benefits of outsourcing is that you gain knowledge from shared experience of the industry and their other clients. Pick a company and then map out the entire process on both sides to look for opportunities to streamline operations.
  5. What services do you actually need?
    Based on your organizational needs, develop a clear understanding of the services you want from the vendor. Translation only? Multilingual formatting and desktop publishing? What about full quality assurance (QA) on the final product? Then ask the translation agency to assess the scope (e.g., words, pages, graphics, etc.) and effort in detail. This will enable you to compare quotes with confidence.

Choosing a translation partner takes time and mutual engagement to define the program and processes. Elements like language markets, deadlines, roles and responsibilities must be carefully planned well ahead of time. Your prospective vendor should act like a consultant helping you through this process. If the localization agency doesn’t lead with a strategy, it’s unlikely to work out.