I realize its often not popular to talk about anything but successes online. However, the following outlines a failure that we simply haven’t been able to mitigate with a particular client and we want all other organizations who are currently translating documents, websites, videos, or doing any other language related work to learn from.
Backstory: We have a client for whom we are the sole provider of their translation work in all the languages they need except for Spanish. It’s unfortunate because their volume of Spanish translations is greater than the other languages put together. This is because they have a freelancer who has worked for them in their offices for several years and they have a very high level of confidence in her abilities. We have reviewed her work and it is good. As good as you can get with a team of one. We continue to handle many Spanish translations for this client, but we haven’t succeeded in transitioning all their Spanish work to us. This has been a point of frustration with this client’s account team, but not for the reasons you think. We are happy for companies who find a provider, even if they are a competitor, that meets their needs. Our account team’s frustration centers on the balance of Time, Quality and Cost. They are only partially being satisfied in terms of quality. However, the cost and delivery times are simply unacceptable and certainly not close to our standards. In reality, this client is addicted to a service that is slow, more expensive, but has pretty good quality. The projects we handle for this client are projects that need to be done more quickly than the embedded freelancer can handle. Historically, this client has not been very price sensitive. I believe we receive additional work from them because they see that this single freelancer is making more annually than those she works with, which frustrates them.
Due to the fact that they are working with a long-term embedded linguist, this client is captive to the limitations of their “partner”. Captive because they have no historical database of the millions of words translated from English to Spanish over the years. Captive because they don’t understand the value of the technology that turns the expense of a translation into an asset that continually saves them money. Captive due to the fear of switching their process from an embedded linguist to comprehensive translation system that balances the Quality, Time and Costs automatically and is designed to continually decrease costs with the more translations completed.
The Solution: There could be and are so many different solutions that would help this client. There are so many opportunities for them to save money, improve their turn times and actually improve the quality they currently have. We leverage this system for this client on every translation they send to us. It works in Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese and many others including the Spanish projects we complete for them. However, its effectiveness is hindered because such a large portion of their translation work is outside of our systems.
Here are some of the things they are missing out on, that we provide as common offerings in our services.
Translation Database: This is a very common practice in the translation industry among the better providers, those who invest in their business. We have been leveraging such technology since it was available. Essentially, we track everything we translate for our clients. Each time a new project is received, we “bounce” or compare that project to what we have translated in the past. When we see similarities to things we have translated in the past, it saves us time and in turn, cost. We share these savings with our clients. This use of technology cuts turn times and actually increases quality. The increase in quality comes from the fact that while we don’t have to re-translate exact repetitions, we still have them proofread by a native linguist. This helps by giving that work another review.
Whether its similar content found in the same document that is yet to be translated or similar content that was completed three years ago, the benefit is the same; saved time and cost.
Translation Tools: The different types of software we use to assist in our language services, help in many different areas. From extra quality checks, to identifying content we have translated previously, to prompting linguists on preferred client terms, the translation tools we use save time and help ensure higher quality.
Language Teams: Another aspect of efficiency and quality that’s lost on the lone linguist route is the utility of a team of linguists working on a project vs one person. I know now, as I am writing this article, that I will send it to a colleague to review, edit and provide feedback. It would be much more difficult for me to write this article, review it myself and complete it without a review that provides comprehensive feedback. That’s a benefit with our service. Each project is translated by certified, native linguists. After which, a native proofreader or team of proofreaders review the work to ensure it matches inconsistency, context, grammar, and other critical elements. Not only do they review the work, but they provide a rating on how well the linguist completed the work. This helps us to track and trend the quality of every linguist on our teams. There’s really no replacement for a process like that with a sole linguist. This does wonders to continually improving quality.
We have been doing this since 1969. That’s 50 years of continually improving our processes, finding out what works and constantly testing new approaches. It’s hard for us to see a partner of ours struggling to do something that we wouldn’t advise and paying a premium for it. We will keep trying to help them.
Of course, these are just a couple of examples of the technology, process, and systems that can help an organization save costs and improve their quality. We have several other articles and white papers available to those interested in learning more. Just contact us and we will be happy to help.