technical translations

How to select the perfect technical translation partner

technical translations

When translating technical content, fast turnaround times, complete accuracy and managing costs to ensure a healthy ROI are all essential.

As you might imagine, it can be a big undertaking. Fortunately, this becomes much more achievable when you engage a translation provider long term. If you have ongoing translation requirements to support new product launches and updates to existing manuals, a translation partner can help to deliver cost savings, implement speedy turnaround times and ensure content is translated to a high standard.

When it comes to technical translations, process makes perfect. That’s why it’s so important when benchmarking different providers to understand what their processes are, and also what technology they use to enhance these processes.

The following points will help you identify the right translation service provider for your technical translation needs.

Technical translation expertise

Technical documentation often involves large volumes of content and industry-specific terminology. Incorrect translations can have serious legal and health and safety implications, which is why they need to be handled by experienced translators. It’s not enough to simply be bilingual. As such, it’s important to always use a professional Language Service Provider that has extensive experience delivering technical translations in your industry—one who will build a team of expert translators with subject-specific expertise to work on all your technical documents.

Access to native speakers

Similarly, it’s not enough to know the language well: you need a translator who is immersed in the culture and appreciates the subtleties of local variants, which can often be markedly different. For example, materials provided in continental Spanish would not be 100% suitable for a Latin American audience. Comtec is a UK-based translation agency, but we have a network of more than 4,000 translators based around the world for this reason.

“Comtec’s use of native-language speakers ensures incredibly high quality, far beyond what our clients have been used to, to the point that we don’t need to worry about quality assurance.”

– Ross Garner, Head of learning experience at Emerald Works

Quality assurance

Select a translation provider who has robust quality assurance processes in place to ensure that translations are delivered to the highest possible standards. Look out for ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 17100:2015, two certifications that Comtec holds, as these quality standards ensure that translation excellence is maintained in all key processes and procedures.

Translation providers may complete sample translations so that you can approve specific terms and style. As translations are completed, glossaries of terminology should be created to ensure high quality and consistent translations across all your global documentation.

Flexible processes

Language Service Providers like Comtec advise clients on processes they can adopt to streamline the technical translation process, particularly for the in-market review and feedback stages. Find out about smart ways to manage regional reviews in this short video

A great translation provider is prepared to tailor their processes to your needs, reducing your workload and integrating their services with your processes.

Robust project management

Ask translation providers about their project management team to get an understanding of how extensive their project management capability is, and how much you can delegate to them. Ideally, with robust project management and clear processes in place, your Language Service Provider will look after the hard part while you simply send over the source content and sign off translated content.

Technology

We see people and technology as a dynamic duo. The tools we use can be the difference between an engaging, accurate, culturally appropriate translation, and one that fails at all three. The essential part here is making sure your translation partner maintains a human touch in their approach. At Comtec, for example, we use a suite of clever tools – from translation memory software to online review tools and our client portal, together with a translation API and range of connectors for integrating with your systems – to make this happen. 

Optimising cost and speed

It can be expensive to translate large volumes of content such as product manuals, since translation costs are typically based on word counts. Technical translation providers will help you reduce these costs by using technology like Translation Memories. These store key terms and phrases in each target language. Any new content can be analysed against Translation Memories in order to identify any previously translated phrases. This effectively reduces the word count and project costs by removing the need to re-translate terms.

To boot, our ISO 18587:2017 certified Machine Translation capability leaves you safe in the knowledge that we can handle huge volumes of content at speed while still achieving human post-edited output you can fully trust. 

 

The points above will hopefully help you assess whether a translation service provider is process driven and has the systems and technology in place to meet your technical translation requirements, while never underestimating the power of people. 

Do get in touch if you have any questions about the subjects covered in this post or want to learn more about the technical translation process.

Need a 10-minute translation refresher? Take a look at our guide: Kick-starting international growth with an effective translation and localisation strategy.

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