Searching for a reliable professional translation partner is often like dating. The relationship starts well but often things don’t go quite as you expected.
One of two things usually follows. One may choose to “speed date”, vowing to never be in the same situation again. This choice is based on the belief that having many different relationships will avoid disappointment when a provider does not perform as expected or is not available. Though this may cover the bases for rush needs, it is not a long term solution for achieving consistency and building a trusted partnership. This approach may cause confusion if a translation memory is not properly maintained and distributed, as well as more work with version tracking and revision needs.
The second choice has the “once bitten, twice shy” approach. This choice consists of ensuring proper vetting before entering into a work relationship. Companies that select this approach desire not only consistency with their material, but also within their entire organization — requiring all departments to use a trusted partner. Though this approach can take time, especially if your company wants quality with competitive pricing, there are four upfront checkpoints to ensure you are not wasting your time.
Selecting a translation partner upfront who can handle all current and future needs is a wise decision. Can the provider supply all localization and desktop publishing services (even if you don’t currently require them)? How many languages and programs/platforms are supported? A provider’s capabilities can save you time and money. For example, you may have an in-house art department, but what if there is an urgent need your people cannot complete on time, or a language font they cannot work with? You may need only Spanish now, but what if you require Chinese a year from now? Confirm how many languages the provider offers as well as their technical capabilities with different formats, platforms and software. If you only have a PDF, can they recreate a translated version? Knowing you can call on your provider for assistance whatever the multi-lingual need arises can save many headaches and heartaches.
Look for industry accreditations and certifications, especially ISO. Achievement of an accreditation shows a commitment to quality. ISO in particular is an important management quality system which demonstrates that the company adheres to a specific set of standards which are continually monitored and analyzed. This standard can also assure that qualified translators are completing your work. Ask your potential provider what checks and balances are in place and if there is an annual test or evaluation to ensure standards— not just that they are writing a check to obtain credentials.
Reviewing a potential partner’s client list can give you an idea as to their areas of expertise. Many providers have translators with varying backgrounds. Therefore if you require specific expertise you can request samples from their top qualified translators or review CVs. However, please note that a quality provider will complete this task without your participation before assigning work to a team. If your company requires medical, legal or technical translation, ask the provider about their experience and client list in that field. Also remember that if you have specific preferred jargon, it is best that your provider, no matter how qualified, creates an approved glossary before work begins.
Question your potential provider about their workflow and what you can expect when working with them. Listen for native speaking translators in the qualification requirements, on-going testing, a quality assurance process, as well as expectations with project and document handling. Do they use a team approach, with both a translator and an independent editor, or is the job handled by just one translator? Is translation memory used? Check translation memory maintenance practices as well as ownership. Will they release your updated memories if requested? Remember not all companies follow the same procedures. Some may charge project management fees or not allow a round of client revisions without an additional cost.
What can you expect as regards turnarounds for proposals and projects? How are rush requests handled? Some may test the waters first with a sample or a small project, but many providers can easily handle these tasks. If you have a potential need for a large scale project, ask for a case study or a client referral for a similar project they have successfully handled. This will give you an idea as to their tools and capabilities no matter the project size.
What happens when there is an issue? Even with standards in place things can go off track. What will happen if you encounter a problem? Expecting you will never have a bump in the road is not realistic. Issues arise and this is where a relationship is tested. Will your provider work to ensure your satisfaction and help overcome the problem? What if reviewers have their own preferences? How are potential problems addressed? The difference between a provider and a partner is the first will stand behind their work while the other will stand by you, as your concerns will be theirs as well.
Though these guidelines may help separate the wheat from the chaff, it does not eliminate the trial and error that may come from working with different providers. One thing is certain, when you find a provider who is true to their word, goes above and beyond to serve your needs (without charging an arm and a leg), and acts like a part of your team rather than just another vendor – you will have struck translation gold.
Terralingua is a certified ISO 9001 and 17100 global translation agency which implements the LISA linguistic quality assurance system. We have worked with some of the world’s best-known brands and only use highly qualified native speaking translators. Terralingua would be honored to serve your company’s translation, localization and desktop publishing needs. If you would like more information on our services, please visit our website to contact your local Terralingua office.