Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Using Internal Company Resources as Translators

Certainly in tough economic times it is understandable that companies are tempted to translate material using internal resources. However, when performing translation internally you must consider what may be compromised and what hidden costs may be associated as well.

Ask yourself these questions:

Would you be able to tell, while speaking with someone in English, that they were illiterate?

Speaking is not writing and oral fluency does not guarantee smooth, coherent, or stylish writing of the end product. The person you are asking to do the translation may not be able to read the original English well enough to translate it effectively. And in some cultures, they are too polite to let you know, or too scared of losing their job. They will either stall or do it anyway, but slowly and it will be of very poor quality and sound like a bad translation.

Who writes your English material?

Just as all English speakers are not necessarily good writers, the same applies to any other language. Does your floor manager write your marketing material? Does your accounting department write your software instructions? I’m sure that’s not the case. Usually someone with a writing background or a professional service is charged with the writing of the company publications, or other material seen by the end user or prospect. The same goes for translation. It should be performed by someone experienced in the craft.

We often have clients come to Confluent that switch from an internal process that was not working. The most commonly heard complaints being that the translation took too long which resulted in product deliveries not being met and that the end user of the translation said the quality was poor. Customers felt they were wasting time and money as their internal resources could have been spending that time on their “main” job. In other cases the volume and languages required soon became too much to coordinate and process in-house..

When our customers finally compared the internal cost of the time of an ultimately unqualified employee doing translation on the clock versus paying a vendor it ended up costing 15% to 30% more for a “raw” or basic translation. If the internal employee did the translation during non-working time, the project also took 30% to 60% longer to complete than if it would have been done by an outside vendor.

Most businesses also don’t have their own translation memory tool. So each time a company has similar stock material the employee would be re-translating the same material over and over. The end result is lack of consistency, added internal cost and more time spent than if having used a qualified translation service.

Other considerations came up like who will manage the project, what to do when internal resources leave, and new employees take over. A new employee now tasked with translation, may tend to write the material to impose their style so when someone new takes over will it be consistent? And without an editor or another to proofread the translation, who would even know if the translation is accurate until it is too late? What if everything is already printed or uploaded only to find major errors?

Switching from an internal process to using a translation service provider doesn’t have to be a rough sailing. Confluent has structured steps and processes to make the transition smooth and cost effective. This way you can be assured you are getting the quality translations done by professional linguists and written for the intended audience in order to be successful in all of your global material and communications.