“Translation is everywhere,” proclaimed Matthew Sekac, Senior Director – Sales Strategy, Park IP Translations, at the IP Service World Conference held in November 2014 in Munich, Germany. In today’s world which is doing everything it can to ‘go global’ at a rapid pace, how can language translation stay far behind when it comes to being a part of the outsourcing era? Talk about it and you’ll find both supporters and detractors for the same; the supporters will vehemently claim that outsourcing is the only way to go, while the detractors will be equally vociferous in their point of view which says the opposite.
Well, why do we actually need to outsource translation in the first place? First and foremost, there is an ever-increasing requirement for translations today, especially in companies which operate on an international scale. But a question may arise in this regard–if companies like these are operating on such a big scale involving a number of different countries as clients, can’t they afford an internal translation department of their own, instead of outsourcing their translation work? They can; but this could have the repercussion of negatively affecting the overall performance of the company, since it is a capital-intensive strategy.
Moreover, when one talks about the increasing volumes of translation that are required, it doesn’t come as a single independent entity; compound it with the time factor, and there you have the actual scenario. There’s only a reasonable amount of work that can be done by an in-house translator per day, which roughly translates to around 2500 words. Enter, a Language Service Provider (LSP in short; what was initially known as a ‘translation agency’) which has numerous translators (both human and machine) working simultaneously on a number of different projects. As a result, it provides a broad range of translation and linguistic services, which can be customized as per a company’s needs and wants. A point to note here: Even though in-house translators may seem to be more cost-effective at first glance, if you’re looking to manage costs effectively in the long run, these Language Service Providers could hold the key.
Translation is not a simple, one-step task; it involves a number of smaller, complex tasks, each of which needs to be taken care of to get the result of the desired quality. Here is where LSPs score over internal translation departments, at literally each step of the way. Translators need to be assessed and selected based on their expertise in a particular field, tasks need to be delegated and each project needs to be carefully managed to see that the translation reaches up to the client’s expectations, and at the same time making sure that the costs don’t scale up. No single company or business is equipped well enough to handle all types of requirements – marketing translations, UI translations, financial translations, to name a few – except an LSP which has the requisite resources with it. It has the technical know-how and expertise to take care of and deliver the finished product in a stipulated time period.
A translator has many different roles to perform –some of which are editing, proofreading, copywriting, translating, even taking care of the layout of the translated document as well as the graphics involved in certain cases. It’s not rocket science to see who can take care of the task and optimize the entire translation process at hand more effectively – a small, motley group of in-house translators or an outsourced LSP which has the bandwidth to take care of all this, in addition to managing budgets, timelines and in fact the entire project management.
On the other hand, there are some concerns with the LSP system as well. For instance, there’s the issue of cost-effectiveness of a single project (if you’re not looking at it from a long-term point of view). Or, the quality of the outsourced translation, which can (if done shoddily) damage a brand’s reputation. And of course, the question of maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of your company’s assets in this digital age is also a major concern.
However, according to the results of a recent survey carried out by the Software and Document Localization (SDL): ‘75% of companies who translate, outsource either all or a major part of their translation process’. Like there are two sides to every coin, so is the case with translation outsourcing. The key is to find out which side has more benefits and then accordingly adapt the negatives to serve our purpose. And in this case, translation outsourcing is too heavily loaded with benefits to be set aside.
Taking the services of an LSP to deliver the finished translated product to your customer in no way means that one washes their hands of the entire task and refuses to take up any responsibility for the same. It’s like a mutual collaboration of sorts – the LSP vendors provide innovation and expertise to yield the perfect mix of price, time and quality benefits, which is a win-win situation for all three parties involved.
To quote American Senator Ron Kind, “Over the last few years, the world has become a smaller and more integrated place with technology that is leveling the playing field like never before.” Agreed, thanks to the interconnections and translations which do their bit in making us ‘a global economy’. And as far as translation is concerned, outsourcing – partial or full, as the case may be –can go a long way in helping companies to focus on their core unique strengths and also deliver the finest quality finished product to their consumers.