Whether this is your first time seeking language services, or you are looking to switch language service providers (LSP), there are some basic but very important questions you should be asking each other.
Questions You Need to Ask Your Language Service Provider
Do You Have an Established Translation Process?
This question might seem basic but is crucial for weeding out companies or freelancers who are bilingual translators but not necessarily language service providers. Because there is a big difference.
You want to find a service provider who has an established translation process. A modern translation is a mix of linguistics, technology, and quality control. If there is no process which blends the three, there is a lot of waste in costs, effort (on your and the translator’s end) and time. A good process allows for repeatability, which reduces costs, errors, and frustration.
Do You Reuse Translation Assets?
Don’t assume that you always have to translate and pay for every piece of content you write. If the translation is done right, using a proper process and software, your language service provider will build a database of all your translated content. They can then pull from that database when you have new content or updates to make.
This will keep your brand’s message and terminology consistent throughout different versions of your content. Why pay for something that’s already been done and run the risk of inconsistency?
Do You Work with all Types of Source Files?
You may be surprised to find out that you don’t have to spend time on specifying what needs to be translated or even creating separate files for translation. We do this and so should every other legitimate language service provider.
Whether you have an MS Word file, InDesign document or a software file – any good language and translation provider can process a lot of material in its native files and formats. For example, if you need a website translated, LSPs will work with the whole site to make sure translations make sense in places where they appear on the screen. Compare this to sending over word documents with paragraphs of text where content is not in context or properly laid out.
Do You Have a Professional Translator on Staff?
There is a huge difference between a person who is bilingual and a professional translator. Don’t let any LSP talk you into feeling secure with having a bilingual staff member translate your content.
Proper translations take more than just switching around a few words. Sentence structure, culture, and design standards all come into play. Professional translators have the technology available to produce quality translations in the shortest time possible.
Questions Your LSP Should Be Asking You
Who Writes Your Content?
Your LSP is going to want to know if you have a professional writer on staff, or if writing is a task left to whoever has the time. This will give them an upfront idea of what quality and form your content will take when delivered to them for translation.
Paying attention to what you write in your native language will go a long way in producing correct translations. Quality source content produces a quality translation, and garbage in equals garbage out; cliche sayings yes, but we can’t stress how important quality is. Poorly written and organized content will cost you a lot more in translation and editing time.
If you don’t have a dedicated writer on staff, consider handing the project over to a staff member that can carve out the time to focus, organize and write well-written content. This will only save you time and money in the end.
There are professional translators that will work with you during your writing stage. They can identify and correct any organizational issues up front and some will even provide professional writers who will produce quality source texts for you.
Do You Develop and Maintain a Glossary of Your Terms and Phrases?
Developing a glossary of terms will help with consistency in your writing process and save your language service provider a lot of time. A glossary will also serve as a reference to everyone in your organization so you all speak the same language.
For example, one person may use “job” and a colleague may use “task” but mean the same thing. A non-native user who reads that may get very confused since they don’t know the difference. Your professional translator is trained to create consistency to eliminate issues for your non-native readers and will spend a lot of time (billable time) asking you a million questions about the difference between two different words – only to find out in the end that they have the same meaning.
Don’t let such a situation consume valuable time. Once your glossary is defined, it can be correctly conveyed in other languages. Here at Ivannovation, we can develop a glossary for you. We will maintain the glossary in all languages so there is always a clear message to your customers.
What is the Volume of Material You are Looking to Provide to Your Customers in Foreign Languages?
Whether you have a big or small project, language service providers create custom translation engines specific to your project. These engines take your glossary of terms into account so when translation begins, there will be no “job” and “task” mistakes. It also allows us to use your content in any file format.
Free online translation software does not do this. It does not consider the layout of your design or cultural norms. Free translation programs certainly do not keep a backlog of all your translated content to pull from when you need to make changes or add a few paragraphs of text.
Have a Productive Conversation
When selecting a translation vendor it is important to think about the larger picture. Jumping between different providers looking for the lowest price will not save you any money because your translation will always be substandard and ultimately cost you more. Your product is not substandard, so don’t promote it with language which is less than that.
These questions are the basic foundation of the conversation you should have with your LSP. Be leery if they do not ask these questions of you. At Ivannovation, we go through these questions and develop a list of actions and follow up questions to find the best possible solution for each client. To start a conversation or learn more about our translation process, give us a call.