If your business or organisation is already managing your translation projects internally, or if you are just exploring the options, keeping translations in-house can seem like a cost effective approach. In many cases this can work very effectively, enabling companies to communicate with consumers, suppliers and global associates around the world.
However, there are a few factors that might make this approach less effective than you hoped. As a result it can reduce your ability to expand globally, or slow it down, and in some cases keeping your translations in-house can damage your brand in a target market. So before you commit to an in-house team for your business’ marketing translations, let’s explore whether outsourcing your translations would be a better option…
Why you might want to outsource translations
If you plan to keep your translation projects in house, who is going to be in that translation team? First off you will need to identify linguists from within your business that have the right skills (and languages) for the type of content requiring translation.
For marketing translations you will need a linguist (preferably a native-speaker) who understands the market, has transcreation and creative copywriting skills, and are equally as proficient in the source language. Mistranslations happen when someone doesn’t interpret the source text correctly, doesn’t have the creative writing skills needed for this type of translation work, or isn’t truly fluent in a target language.
If you have technical translations, such as product marketing content with technical specifications, you’ll need someone who has the industry specific knowledge as well. Using people without the necessary skillset can result in inaccuracies and mistranslations, and this can damage your brand.
Perhaps you do have someone with this level of expertise. But what about quality control? What processes will be in place to ensure accuracy, consistency and relevancy in your target market. Do you have people who can proofread and review content, and ultimately take the decision to sign off on a translation?
If the answer is “no”, consider outsourcing your translations.
Translation turnaround times
Another thing to consider is how quickly you need a translation, the volume of work involved, and how frequently your business requires translations. When using in house staff there are two factors that can impact adversely on turnaround times:
- Inexperience – translations will typically take longer when someone is not accustomed to doing them. The review process will also take longer as there are likely to be many revisions.
- Lack of time – the member of staff who has agreed to translate your content probably has other things to do too. They will need to prioritise your translation project according to their workflow.
If you have large volumes of content to translate, a tight deadline, or regular requirements for translations, outsourcing could be the best option.
Multifaceted and multilingual projects
Complex translation projects that involve many different types of content, for example a website translation or a multi-platform marketing campaign, takes time and requires attention to detail to ensure consistency and accuracy across all content assets. Equally a multilingual translation project requires project managing a team of translators and proofreaders.
Normally when a company manages projects like these in house, they don’t have access to the tools, technology and processes that can speed up translation times and reduce costs. These tools – such as Translation Memory – when used by experienced human translators not only reduces the amount of time it takes to translate content, but also increases its accuracy and consistency by cross referencing it against agreed translations for specific terminology and phrases.
By outsourcing the translations, there is one point of content for all languages and all elements of the project; as well as a team of expert translators and linguists capable of handling all languages and content assets.
Outsourcing your translations – key takeaway
Using in house translators can be appropriate in some situations. One off small translation projects where your business has the necessary skillset in house and the time to devote to it, are a good example. Similarly, you may use a member of staff for ad hoc translations such as replying to an email or responding to a social media comment.
But for specialist translations – like marketing translation – that require more than the ability to translate text literally; and for complex and large volume translation projects, it can be easier and more cost effective to outsource to a translation service provider.