How big is your company? Are you just a bunch of freelance translators in a basement?
Please tell us your company size (annual revenue and number of full-time staff by function).
Do you have experience in marketing translation?
Please describe your experience in electronic components and electrical engineering.
How many qualified translators do you work with that have strong backgrounds in electrical engineering?
Please indicate which offices have in-house linguists and for which languages.
How do you distribute content to multiple linguists?
How do you manage the whole process, as well as monitor the linguists and workflow?
These are some of the questions we have been asked by numerous international clients. They show how much a translation company's size and experience in different fields matter to the clients. And they should.
This article will list and describe 4 main aspects to consider when looking at a translation agency's size before you choose one for your content translation.
The language industry has been rapidly growing in the last 10 years and continues to do so. According to the market size of the global language services industry from 2009 to 2021 report by Statista, the language industry reached $46.9 billion in 2019.
They estimate that in 2021 it will be $56.18 billion. This shows how massive the industry really is. And how many options there are for you to choose from.
When it comes to choosing a translation agency on the basis of their size, it’s important to define a few things first.
Depending on your company's stage of worldwide growth, you will have different needs for translation and different budgets too. One thing goes for everyone, no matter what business you are in: nobody wants to spend too much.
Everybody loves to save as much as they can and cut costs wherever possible. Especially in this coronavirus-stricken economy. Times are tough and localization costs are probably not something you look forward to paying.
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When choosing a translation company on the grounds of its size, budget is one of the key elements that should impact your decision. If you decide to go for a multimillion dollar top-of-the-top translation company, you can be sure you will not be cutting costs.
The bigger the translation company, the more they charge. The costs of having incredibly large teams always comes with more overhead that has to be covered by income. So, the translation rates you will be offered might not meet your expectations.
If you go with a smaller translation provider their rates will be competitive due to less overhead and lower expenses. So, how much do you want to pay?
A hint: On average, companies spend 0.5% of their past year's revenue on translation and localization if they want it to really work and get real ROI out of it, and don’t approach it just as a nice thing to have.
Suggestion: Translate as much as you can within your budget.
You localize your website into German, French, Chinese, Japanese or Spanish. Do you have the budget to translate just the main webpage and the services page, or will you also choose the blog posts?
How much is 0.5% of your past revenue?
When you plan your product launch, how about your UI and documentation? Are they included in the financial forecast of the translation budget? And what about your marketing content and training materials? Will they be included as well?
Depending on those factors, you will have your answers as to how many languages you should start with. If you plan on translating substantial amounts of content over a course of time, it would probably make sense to partner up with a smaller translation company.
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Paying a lower rate is one thing. The other thing to remember is the consistency of your translated content. Larger translation providers usually outsource the translations to smaller teams or language services providers who specialize in, for instance, different languages.
So, if you want to translate your website into Italian, Portuguese, and Korean, there is a possibility that this will be dealt with by two different translation vendors: One specializing in the European languages, and the other in the Asian languages.
Related content: How to Boost the Translation Into Multiple Languages at Once
And yes, if you send your content to a smaller localization company, they will have it translated by three different translators. So, what’s the difference? Project management.
If you collaborate with a large language service provider and they delegate your content to two different, smaller translation agencies, there will be different project managers controlling the process, more people working on your content, and more risk of inconsistencies occurring in the translated materials.
If you plan to translate less content into just one language, why pay more than you have to? And if you plan to translate more of your content, and into several languages, why risk consistency in addition to larger costs?
One of the key elements that the biggest players in the language industry focus on is speed.
Related content: How to Reduce Turnaround Time for Content Translation
However, speed does not have to mean faceless, impersonal collaboration where you are just one of the thousands of clients, and your content is just one of the millions of content pieces on the translation production line. This raises another question:
When you trust your content to a translation company, you probably don’t want an impersonal relationship and an endless chain of command, right?
To ensure your content’s perfect translation you need to make sure that your translation provider truly hears you, and that the communication is smooth, clear, and open even to the toughest aspects of your collaboration. Customer service is not, and never will be, overrated.
In collaboration with a smaller translation provider, you usually receive the full attention that you deserve. It means not only them listening to your expectations, but also understanding or aiming to understand your needs.
It also means addressing any potential issues or doubts at any stage of the translation process.
What you will get is:
With a larger translation company, there is the risk of employees feeling like just another cog in a machine, and thus treating the clients the same. You need to decide which approach would suit your business growth better.
When you partner up with a professional translation agency, swift communication and speed in the exchange of information is a given, regardless of its size. This means more control on your part, and fewer delays when it comes to the translation delivery.
If all you need is just to entrust your content to a translation provider and not worry about it, make sure they are the right ones to handle it for you, whether they are a small or a large company. How much control over the content are you ready to give up for the greater good?
Sometimes companies have their own resources, or distributors translate the content. And as it may seem easier and that it gives you more control over the content. It’s an easy trap to fall into.
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The distributors who are not professional linguists will not adhere to processes, will not have the tools to deliver high-quality translations, and will simply not have the time and energy to focus on it as much as they should.
Not to mention that they will probably not even remember to use the glossary and style guide, should you have one. The translation will be quick, but sloppy.
Wouldn’t it be better if it was done quickly and thoroughly, with all the information you deliver included, and all your rules as to the style and terminology adhered to? Trusting your content to a translation provider doesn’t mean you losing control over your content.
The same goes for reviewing your content. If you have the wrong people reviewing (e.g. your marketing or sales team, your engineers, or technical writers), you might end up in an endless process of resolving issues that would probably not even have existed if you had chosen to trust the professional translation agency.
Related content: 6 Reasons Why Your Team May Fail at Translation Quality Review
On the other hand, please remember that sometimes your project might be a perfect match for a large translation company. You need to make sure you determine exactly what you need.
An important thing to keep in mind is that it can be a trap to think that smaller companies are always the best choice. You need to establish what your company needs, and follow that path. Exaggeration in any way is always risky.
The smallest translation companies might not be able to handle the amount of content that you need to translate in the time that you need it to happen. They might not have enough resources to cover the languages you need, or that specialize in the field that your company represents.
They may also not be able to offer you the solution of integrating their translation software with your system which can significantly speed up your content translation process.
To refer to the topic of this article, don’t worry. Translation companies worth their salt are not a bunch of freelancers locked in a basement, translating day and night any content they get.
They have in-house employees, but will also be open to collaboration with freelance translators and other professionals that they closely manage through their project managers or vendor managers. These are only a few functions of a translation agency that bring added value to each stage of the translation project delivery chain.
These localization professionals usually work from a home office or in the office locations of the company, if possible, and are treated as part of the team. If a translation company does not have one specific HQ location, it may be something to worry about. Unless you want to collaborate with translators scattered around in different places? Didn't think so.
It’s important to do your research as to whether the translation company is the best fit for you, and also whether you are the right fit for them. And their size matters (in terms of capability supported by experience) as much as the size of your company.
Every translation company had its starting point somewhere in the past. The first project that they handled, the first successful one, and the first failure.
And over the years, as they grew and carried out more translation projects, they also gained experience and expertise. If a translation company has 10 years under its belt, does it always mean that they will have the experience that you need? Probably not.
When you look at when the translation company was founded, make sure you don’t associate that with experience in the field that is of interest to you. Always ask the right, specific questions. The more specific, the more you will ensure that the company is truly able to deliver the translation that you require.
Just because they have 10 years’ experience in translating technology solutions doesn’t mean that they have the right resources to handle your application localization.
Always ask the right questions and research the translation company’s experience before you decide to trust them.
Whether it’s 3 years, or 15, make sure that when they say they have experience in marketing translation, they don’t mean that they have translated one marketing brochure a while back, and that’s it.
Another thing is the translation service provider’s maturity when it comes to all the other aspects within translation. It often happens that companies that don’t have the budget for localization, nor the translation and localization know-how, decide to start a localization department from scratch.
And as exciting a challenge it may seem, it is also a risky one. Implanting a localization team within your company without any experience in the translation and localization industry might lead you to costly solutions and traps.
Paying for additional resources and buying tools will be costly. Add on the time you will need to spend creating processes and workflows that will run smoothly and quickly. All of this cannot happen overnight.
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If you decide to trust a professional translation provider instead, you will be able to direct all of this budget and time towards the areas of your business that actually need them, because you will have the translation-related work covered by professionals, taken off your shoulders.
To become really efficient in translation, a company has to dedicate a lot of time and money to train their staff, select the best translation tools and set up the processes that will work in their best interest. For that, they will need the know-how. This takes a lot of time and experience. Do you have it?
And most importantly, will you be able to hire different professionals for different types of translation?
When you decide to localize your website into German, French, Chinese, or Japanese, will you also be able to hire translators for German marketing translation, French marketing translation, or translation of marketing collateral into Japanese?
What about Japanese technical translation, or French software localization, or product information in Simplified Chinese? All this means hiring additional resources, which means additional costs. Is your company mature enough in localization to handle such a challenge?
In order to find the translation provider that is the best fit for you, you have to make sure you ask the right questions. There is a whole list of questions that you should be asking yourself, and the most important ones are:
Then there are the questions that you should be asking the prospective translation provider. Their answers will also help you answer the questions you asked yourself.
Look for a translation company that will suit your needs whether it’s their size, age, experience, or customer approach. All of the above are important aspects of a successful partnership. Look for a translation provider that:
Another important aspect when choosing a translation provider is knowing what you definitely do not want, or what to watch out for when doing your research. To help you, here’s a short list of questions that are worth asking yourself, and your team:
These questions, as well as the ones in the checklist, should be able to help you decide on where to direct your focus. You should also beware of:
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When looking for a translation provider that will be the right fit for you, take a look at their size, maturity, experience, and approach to collaboration in terms of customer service (including communication) and technology. And remember:
Once you verify all the bases and make an informed decision on who to trust your content to, (assuming you make the right choice), you will see how a true partnership with a translation provider of the right size and maturity will impact your international business growth. Good luck in your search.