Monthly Archives: November 2014

Choosing a Translation Agency (Part III)

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



Choosing a Translation Agency (Part II)

If you were with us last time (and if not you can read Part I on our blog page afterwards), we’re looking at what the web says are the things you want to look out for when choosing a translation agency.

We searched Google, using a number of different search strings and in general, as noted in Part I, there were two types of article, one group which deals with the issue from a customer’s viewpoint and another group which deals with it from the translator’s side.

We are more interested in the former, as it’s customers who give us the business from which we employ translators, but the latter are also a very important reminder that we are all in this together and it’s only when all parties, agencies, translators and, yes, the client, work together does the whole thing go swimmingly and to everyone’s satisfaction

Most of the blogs and articles on choosing a translation agency list the key attributes companies such as ours need to have. For example, the Dublin City University’s Languages department cites the following: quality, track record, price and speed. Over on SlideShare, Ethan Smith says check out reputation, experience/certification and make sure it’s proper people not machines doing the translation. Mr Smith then goes on to say that you need to ask some further questions, namely, “do they allow language translators only to work into their native languages, if they miss a deadline what compensation is offered, does the service include proof reading, do they employ industry/subject experts, and finally, what format do they return the translation in

As a rule, most articles on how to choose a translation agency tend to concentrate on much the same things. Reputation, experience, certification/accreditation, real technical expertise in the subjects – these are the constant refrains from those who seek a translator they can trust. On that last point, of trust, one commentator makes the very good point that it is very helpful for the client, if they have a regular requirement, to be paired with the same translator so a longer-term relationship can be built up. This is something that we strive to do at Global Connects, albeit it can be difficult if the person changes at the client end.

Of course, all these lists of the attributes needed by a good translation company do include ‘price’.   Price, for the customer, is very important. For procurement people, price is often paramount, and tenders often ascribe more marks to price than any other variable. However, what’s interesting in all the articles we read online, is that price, whilst important, is invariably recognised as being of no value if it is not accompanied by a good service. In fact, most of the blogs and articles we read make the point that often firms offering quick, cheap translations are cutting corners somewhere in order to make a profit. That corner is almost certainly the quality of your translation. Yes, a fair price is important, for everyone – the client, the translator and the agency – but quality trumps all. Be prepared to negotiate: most agencies will happily do so, but never compromise on quality. Our next blog will look in more depth at the issue of price.

Anthony Madill, Global Connects

Choosing a Translation Agency (Part I)

OK, we admit, we are biased here.   However, before you stop reading, expecting a sales pitch for Global Connects, we need to tell you that this series of blogs is based on an interesting trawl of the internet, searching under strings such as “Choosing a translation agency”, “What to look for in a translation agency?” and “How can I tell if my translation agency is any good?” We’re read a host of articles, ranging from sources as the well-respected Dublin City University’s Language Services Department to a slightly dubious site that actually blacklists translation companies it doesn’t like (usually, to be fair, because various translators have allegedly not been paid, or paid very badly). Anyway, we’ll let you read what is being said out there on the web and then you can tell us if Global Connects delivers it!

Most writers on this subject tend to fall into two camps. On the one hand, there are the academic/pseudo- academic blogs and articles which purport to take a broader overview and provide advice to the many client companies who need to use translation services every once in a while but not often enough to have settled on one reliable provider. The other group tends to consist mainly of translators/interpreters who have their own websites, blog pages, and who, naturally, tend to think that they should be paid more (which sometimes, but not always, is true!).

The latter can have a slight tendency to be hyper-critical. One blog we read was dismissive of ISO accreditation, claiming it to be a “bombastic and totally meaningless statement” and “just a marketing gimmick aimed at gullible clients”. This same blogger went on at some length about the importance of accuracy and competence, not realising perhaps that to describe ISO accreditation as “totally meaningless” is, in itself, a rather inaccurate and, dare we say it, incompetent statement. Yes, ISO accreditation does not of itself mean that a firm will produce the goods time after time for a client, but it does give an indication of a willingness to be audited, to try to meet certain standards and thus demonstrate a degree of commitment and professionalism. That, surely, has a value and helps give clients a degree of confidence in the translation company, albeit the company then needs to demonstrate that that confidence is not misplaced.   Ultimately, it is the delivery of a quality service, at a fair price, that really matters.   Yet it is important for the more serious companies to demonstrate that they are committed and professional, and ISO, although not the be-all and end-all, does help do this. And before you ask, yes, Global Connects is ISO accredited!

To be continued…

Anthony Madill, Global Connects