The Value of a Translation Well Done

The value of professional translation services is not always easy to calculate. Return on investment is hard to define and should not be measured exclusively on the basis of cost. Translation services are often considered a commodity and it’s easy to think that all translations are made equal and to wonder why you might pay one agency more for the same perceived deliverable. This is where many translation vendors, and buyers, get it wrong. Price should not be the only deciding factor when choosing your translation vendor.

A holistic approach to any translation project’s success should involve:

  • A translation project manager with a linguistic background, extensive experience in managing translation projects, and multilingual proofreading skills.
  •  Translators and editors with ample and proven experience on the subject matter.
  • A very strict quality assurance process that guarantees high-quality and accurate translations.
  • Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools used to leverage repetitions and matches with previous translations; this ensures both terminological consistency and linguistic style guide conformity. This technology creates a translation memory database that permits savings on future translations relieving the cost on words or phrases that were previously translated.
  • Transparency and ownership. The customer should be the owner of the translation memory.

The above requirements cannot be provided using low-cost techniques. Low-cost techniques skip crucial steps of the process and/or prevent the customer from accessing their own translation memories and glossaries that were created during the process. At Global Arena, in addition to technology specially designed to manage translation workflows, we involve three independent professionals for each project that work within a structured environment of checks and balances. The product you receive from Global Arena requires no editing and is ready to be published.

A Success Story

In this case, a pharmaceutical company was in need of Spanish and Portuguese translations. The volume was substantial so Global Arena provided a translation sample in each language to allow the customer to verify the quality of our translations. Even though the translations were rated as pristine, the customer decided to use a different vendor that claimed to provide the same services at a lower price. Upon receiving the low-cost vendor’s translations, it was evident to the client that the quality and deliverables offered by Global Arena were superior. Global Arena’s translations were ready for distribution whereas the other vendor’s were not. The customer had in-country employees, native speakers of the target languages, who could act as final proofreaders of the translation before distribution. They opted initially for the other translation vendor because the final in-house review/editing was giving them full control of the final version before publication at a lower cost. However, when they implemented the process, the in-house personnel had to heavily edit and, in some cases, re-translate the documents. This resulted in excessive back and forth between the in-house employees and the translation agency. While the process was supposed to provide considerable savings, the heavy involvement of in-house personnel led to significant delays in the delivery of the final translations, distracted key in-country personnel from their responsibilities, and generated additional costs that had not been considered prior to deciding on the low-cost approach. Additionally, the in-country personnel became frustrated because of delays, extensive reviews, and repeated errors since they were not a part of the vendor’s translation process, and therefore could not record their suggestions and changes in the translation memory. The delays in deliverables and the hours of internal editing came at a much higher cost than the difference in the cost per word.

Ultimately, the customer returned to Global Arena and requested a few projects implementing our process, technology, and expert human resources. The original price we offered didn’t change, but the benefits were obvious to the client and provided immediate, as well as long-term savings. These savings could be measured in terms of decreased turnaround time (days), time-to-market predictability (the customer provided the translations to its customers the day that they were promised), and employees were now free to focus on their core job duties and no longer had to waste hours of their time correcting translations.

Global Arena assembled translation teams for each language that involved highly qualified translators who had documented experience working in the pharmaceutical field. Translators hold advanced degrees and include MDs, pharmacologists, biologists, and biochemists. We use the same translation teams for all of this client’s projects, which, together with the use of CAT tools and terminology databases, helps to ensure terminological consistency and that the client’s linguistic preferences are always respected. Global Arena assigned a dedicated project manager who provides a single point of contact for all projects. The project manager is familiar with the projects and preferences and can respond flexibly and knowledgeably to all requests on very tight deadlines. Project management familiarity means time is not wasted explaining priorities and processes each time. The client found Global Arena and its approach so easy and efficient that we now also do their multilingual layout work, including work in English, which was usually done by their marketing vendor or in-house resources as a final QA process.

The result is that translations delivered now require minimal to zero editing by the in-country employees and are ready for distribution. This reduces time to market and allows the customer’s in-country resources to focus on their responsibilities and avoid distractions. Our customer decided that working with Global Arena gave them the necessary piece of mind when dealing with translation services and allowed its employees to fully focus on the activities that affected their company’s bottom line.

If you want to evaluate how Global Arena can help you to optimize your translation processes and cost, please contact us.

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