Once you have decided to give translation a strategic emphasis in your global marketing or new segment expansion or software/app plans, it’s time to choose the right translation agency which can make this seemingly-complex undertaking a smooth one.
Translation is a space teeming with zillions of professionals and outfits in today’s dynamic marketing era. Yet, it is as tough as finding a needle in this humongous haystack when you want someone who truly understands your unique problems and goals. Most players you encounter have no differentiation, no edge and no depth to carry you through the incidental goals and challenges that translation puts forth.
If translation had been an exercise of merely converting a content capsule drafted in one language into another language, even machines could have done this. In fact, most translation agencies are deploying nothing but an army of machines to handle translation in an assembly-line manner. If you want the same cold-shouldered, impersonal, steel treatment; there is no need to read further. But if you want the translation to bring that strategic element to your business; do pay attention to these small caution areas.
The Do’s: Look for these traits
Look for an agency that houses a steady and consistent pool of native translation professionals. That basically means that you do not end up going for a cheaper, but incomplete and sloppy service where fly-by-night operators do the job in a piece-meal way. Also, just having bi-lingual skills in two languages serves no purpose. Unless someone can bring in the native grip to the target language, in particular, the translation process would not add any value per se. Having a strong repository of linguists and testers also helps.
Aim for translation but gun for localization. Yes, it can be in a well-penetrated way where the process touches all facets be it software, manuals, apps, branding or imagery; or, it can be a specific format but giving your content a local dimension would essentially make it readily amenable to the target audience.
Translation is a superficial exercise unless it takes adequate localization into account. Come to think of it, adapting to the target context, culture and consumption nuances is the ultimate goal of translation itself. So look for a partner who carries sharp localization expertise.
Opt for translation agencies who have a prudent mix of machine translators and human translators. Machine translation is inevitable and sometimes, quite a smart choice when volume-based/transactional/programmable/routine content is on the table. However, translation professionals are strongly needed not just for supervision, accuracy and quality assurance but also for giving the right context and impact that translation needs at the end of the day.
The Don’ts: Avoid these tendencies
Going only by big names.
Do ask for reference cases that can tell you in detail whether the agency in question has sufficient expertise in handling the peculiar needs that your industry scenario requires. Having a big army of translation resources is not going to help you when you need someone with specific industry understanding for the challenges and opportunities that you are facing.
Leave essential decisions like CMS (Content Management System), document life-cycle, regulatory archiving etc. on assumptions.
So clarify in advance and have well-drawn-out contracts that spell out every choice and accountability in clear terms with the agency.
Take the elevator and wander in the woods.
Yes, you can’t go for a picnic just because you have picked a service provider to take care of the translation. Your involvement, inputs, and co-operation would be desired from time to time. Setting the right people and processes from your side in place would help your translation agency immensely in delivering the outcomes you have set out for.
In short, don’t think of translation as an extra function. It is not house keeping. You need someone who can advise you with a strategic mindset, handle quality assurance, comes with reliable accreditations, has dependable industry experience, can promise transparency and confidentiality; and of course, who cares more than a translator on what happens to what you say, how you say and where you say it. Take this decision with the utmost discretion and pick the right translation agency which knows what it is doing.