Re-posted from our Metrics for Multilingual Communications on March 9, 2009 – Understand what you buy:
It is essential when buying translation services to understand how management of the translation cycle impacts their costs. We manage our translation projects by process and provide a detailed overview of what is entailed in the scope. Breaking out a project per process allows buyers to:
- compare apples to apples when evaluating bids to ensure that all bids include the same services
- see how their organization’s own processes can impact the quality of the translations
- understand how the order of the processes in the translation workflow can affect their overall costs
Compare apples to apples when buying translation
How can a corporate buyer of translation services compare quality and price without looking at the processes involved in the translation workflow?
Most organizations look at the price per language when comparing quotes from multiple Language Service Providers. This allows them to assess their budget for each market. However, we mentioned earlier that if budget is an issue and organizations want to gauge which languages to choose, price should not be the leading factor. The organization should strategize as to where their dollars are spent most efficiently by looking at the language and cultural factors between the domestic market and target market. The potential within the target markets should be a deciding factor on what regions or countries to focus on. Those target markets that benefit most from translation and or localization should be on the top of the list.
Pricing out translation projects per language also inhibits process efficiencies that you may have when you combine languages together. Some project management tasks only need to be done once in a project – regardless of the number of languages. Therefore, buyers can see cost savings if languages are bundled together.
LSP TIP: Ask questions! When the price differs between vendors, find out why.
Buyer-side processes impact on buying translation
A key piece of insight that we share with our clients is the importance of considering the entire Content Lifecycle. Many of the metrics in our Client Mentor Program (CMP) focus on the processes that precede the translation process. Additional efficiencies can be achieved during translation if certain things are in place before the source copy is sent to translation.
One area we assess in our Global Readiness Scorecard is Content Readiness. Do we need to modify the files our clients send us before we send them to translation? Or, is the content ready to be translated?
The first steps in a translation project are File Preparation and Preflight. These two steps are impacted by the quality of the source documentation. The processes the buyer goes through before sending us their files affect the amount of preparation we must do before the translation can begin. One example is if a client sends us text in a Word file that has been stripped from a PDF, the line breaks that divide the phrases must be removed so that the translators have entire sentences to translate, rather than broken pieces. Another example is if the text contains cultural references that would not apply to the target audience. These references will not be affective if they are simply translated. The source text would need to be revised so that the cultural references are removed. Or, the translator would need to adapt the translation to include a reference appropriate for the target culture.
Translation buyers must understand their translation provider’s processes in order to see how their processes can impact the quality of the translations. This is where transparency and mentorship come in and can be of great benefit for translation buyers in the 80th percentile of the Global Communication Maturity Model (GCMM).
LSP TIP: Strive for transparency! Get insight into your translation provider’s processes so that you can work together to make efficiencies in the Content Lifecycle.
Well-planned workflows = Predictable costs and timeframes for buying translation
A process-oriented workflow enables you to predict inefficiencies that can creep in later in a project. Organizations tend to overspend on projects when strategic decisions are made after the project has already started. When additional phases are added by the organization as an afterthought, the processes before and after these new phases are affected. That is why the Client Mentor Program focuses on those leading indicators.
Often clients are focused on the end goal of getting their translation by a certain date. They believe that getting the translation started as soon as possible will get them to that end date more quickly. What we point out in our Client Mentor Program is that preparation is everything when it comes to effective project management. Taking time before translation starts to evaluate which phases must be part of the project may add a few extra days on to the schedule. However, with a well-planned project workflow, we reduce the chance of adding in phases late in the project that require rework or repeating phases that are already complete. Repeating phases adds to both the schedule and the bottom line.
LSP TIP: Take the time to understand what steps are needed in your project workflow. You’ll see the extra planning time up front will save you time and money in the end.
The steps to trust
When a client comes to us and still wants to talk about price and price only, we realize that the onus of transparency and communicating value and trust is on us. Many individuals struggle with the emotional aspect of the purchase – “Who and how do I trust?” “How do I evaluate the service.” We still believe that you have to choose a language service provider that will be the right fit for you. Have a conversation with the people with whom you’ll be working. Contact references. Read through their website. How are they going to help you…..you as an individual and you as the person representing your organization. While the onus may be on the LSP (Language Service Provider) to establish trust, we also recognize that you have to take a step forward into a world which you may not know enough about, may be intimidated about, may be excited about or may not want to deal with…..give us a call.