10 issues you can expect a good translation agency to address properly

The world has never been smaller than it is today. 

Business opportunities have never been greater than in the past few years.

The need to communicate in the customer’s language is more pressing than ever.

Companies that have previously only done business regionally now have the chance to expand into foreign markets, and teaming up with the right translation agency can be crucial. But how do you tell which partner is right for you?

We have compiled a summary of parameters and basic points that you definitely ought to think about when it comes to choosing the right LSP (language service provider) before you proceed with your first contract. Going for the cheapest option is often the most costly mistake you can make.

  1. Pricing

Don’t be afraid to talk about money. A respectable LSP will quote you an exact price up front. You always know what to expect. Different agencies use different units to compute their prices – words, “standard pages”, number of keystrokes, hours, days, minutes – and the calculations can be confusing. In many cases, clients are seduced by a low unit price in the quotation, only then to be caught out by various extras for formatting, fast turnaround, or weekend work. A reputable vendor will quote a final price in advance and honour it down to the last penny.

  1. Quality

It is worth looking at the processes that are in place to deliver and maintain good service quality. Quality-conscious language service providers will have a meticulous quality control process. They tend to have a document outlining the specific steps taken by sales staff, project managers, translators and proofreaders to ensure the highest quality of translation. Such responsibility cannot be shouldered by one person alone, even if they have “quality control” on their business card. One set of eyes is not enough to do the job. We recommend that you only work with companies that hold and maintain ISO quality certification and have precise procedures in place to maintain quality.

  1. References and case studies

Any translation service provider worth its salt will be happy to provide references without even being asked. For us agencies, a satisfied customer is the most impactful sales argument we can pitch. If you have to crowbar references from an agency, it probably means they have little to be proud of and you should keep your guard up. Their reticence may be because they lack experience of similar projects, the company has not been in business that long, or they simply haven’t done much good work. Whatever the reason, your best bet is to give them a wide berth.

  1. Localisation

Consider how the agency treats your texts. Localisation is not just about the translation itself. It’s a process that involves precision, consistency, contextually relevant terminology, the use of readily understandable units of measure, and the adoption of appropriate linguistic standards. Plus, the translation must not stray from the tone used by your company to speak to the customer. Any provider dedicated to the quality of its services employs a set of measures to guarantee all of the above.

  1. Process

Who’s going to be handling the translation? Who’s got what job? Who is in charge and who has what responsibilities? How many people are involved in the translation and what roles are they playing? You may find agencies resorting to the outsourcing of their project management, but that’s not a healthy practice. It is crucial for information and instructions to be passed on between the various links in the chain. What are the qualifications and expertise of those involved? You have a right to answers, and a reputable agency will be only too willing to field such enquiries. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be too timid to demand answers.

  1. Technology

There are plenty of means and ways to carry out and check a translation. They should be presented and explained to you so that you are aware of the benefits – speed, efficiency, cost savings, uniformity of terminology, and the consistency of translation. Experienced LSPs invest in technology, knowing that costs and time can be as much as halved, and that it can help with consistency. These tools reduce the time and number of people needed to organise a translation. Agencies with no such technology or information system probably need more people. And who’s going to pay for that?

  1. Security

The security of your data and your privacy is very important. You should not trust anyone who is sloppy about transmitting and storing data. Knowing how your data is being handled gives you peace of mind so you can focus on more important things.

  1. Delivery times

In this day and age, one of the most critical factors is time, so this is always one of the criteria you use to choose a supplier. When translations are delayed and deadlines are extended, this can cause numerous problems down the line. Discuss with your potential suppliers how they ensure timely delivery of translations and how they back up their promises.

  1. Transparent negotiations

If you think the price seems too good to be true, then there could well be hidden extras. Ask the supplier to explain anything that is unclear to you. The price calculation should be transparent and clear. These days, the norm is to run a precise analysis of the text in advance, taking into account how much repetition there is in the text.

  1. Machine translation

Our industry is one of those in which artificial intelligence is making inroads. While it can quickly become a bad master, if handled wisely it is a very good servant. Machine translation is improving in quality all the time. It may not be perfect, but there’s definitely a place for it in the repertoire of quality language service providers. In certain cases, MTPE (machine translation post-editing) can be a viable, fast and inexpensive option. Please feel free to enquire about this service.

And an added bonus – complaints

Nobody’s perfect and mistakes happen. Anyone who says “it doesn’t happen to us” is lying. The way in which mistakes are handled is of paramount importance. Crucial factors include whether an agency identifies the cause, comes up with a solution, and effects an appropriate remedy. In this situation, it is often vital to incorporate any changes quickly and comprehensively into translation memories, glossaries, and style guides.

The summary we have provided above is far from exhaustive, but if you follow this overview, you can be sure that you have weighed up all the essential criteria and formed an idea of the kind of partner you are looking at. Other points worth considering include the handling of reference materials, the ability to draw on past translations, and the approach to glossary creation. These are topics that we will come to in our blog. We will be more than happy to discuss any of the above topics with you during an online meeting or over a decent cup of coffee at our Pardubice office.

czeXpress international s.r.o.