This is the last part of our series of blogs looking at what you need to consider when you need to choose an agency to get some work translated. In our last post, we noted that price should not be the sole criteria for buying translation services, at least not if you don’t want to end up in one of the many ‘translation nightmare’ blogs that we referred to in earlier blogs. It’s not good fun to have your company ridiculed for mistakes of gender and grammar, especially when these errors combine to form a ridiculous, or worse a scatological, piece of publicly available copy.
Price though, is important to both customers and agencies alike. Customers want to save money; agencies and translators want to make it. The market, in general, moves the price to a middle ground where all are, more or less, happy.
Consequently, we suggest that if you are about to commission a piece of translation work, you need to decide what your budget is going to be. If you have never had translation work done before, the sensible thing is to get several quotes – in fact even if you have a regular supplier (even if it’s us!) it’s worth getting different quotes from time to time. If nothing else, they keep the agencies on their toes.
When you get a price, or preferably before you get it, make sure you know who, or what, is doing the translation. Is it a human being, essentially someone working into his or her native tongue, or is it a piece of software? The latter is quicker and cheaper. The former should bring in a degree of technical and human interpretation, tone of voice, research and intuition that no machine, currently, can match. You pays your money and you takes your choice. However, if you are a newcomer to the business of getting work translated, be aware of these differences between man and machine, or you could be seriously embarrassed, or worse, out of pocket as your own sales plummet because your foreign customers are too busy laughing at your mistranslations to buy your products
Be aware too of the more dodgy LSPs, or Language Service Providers. These proliferate on the net, but the poor ones are invariably just brokers rather than actual translation companies. Brokers tend to buy low and sell high, with all that implies for the quality of the work you will receive. Remember, at the end of the day it is the translators who work with the agency you finally select who do the actual work. That’s why so many of the guides to buying translation services on the web stress the importance of reputation. Ask for testimonials, check them out (yes, be brazen and call the person who has given the testimonial to make sure that it’s genuine) and take the time to form a relationship, with both the account manager who deals with you on a daily basis. Nothing beats a good, regular and trustworthy relationship, but it needs worked at by all parties. This is a marriage with three people in it – you, the client, the agency and the translator at each point of the triangle. Together, you are stronger and together you’ll have confidence that the work you do is of the highest quality and at a fair price for all concerned.
Anthony Madill, Global Connects