How to Select Good Translation Partners?
Choosing a suitable translation partner is undoubtedly a task of challenges as you have a myriad of choices that all guarantee you the “best-in-class” quality. The process of choosing translation partners for your translation and localization projects requires quite some time and effort from your company as it is one of the first important steps that have a huge impact on the final results.
In today’s post, we propose a process based on our years of experience in the localization industry that we hope will help you find the right translation partners without wasting too much time.
Table of Contents
Step 1 – Make a shortlist of potential translation partners
By doing a quick search on Google, you can receive thousands of results for freelance translators or translation agencies. Another reliable source for finding good translation partners is asking around in your network. There might be someone in your social circles who happens to know or has worked with a translation partner. Reaching out to them and asking them about their experience and review will be helpful for your company and save you a great deal of time.
In this step, you should pay attention to the following information to sort out some irrelevant or unsuitable partners:
- The language pairs they provide. For example, if you need to translate your content into only 1 or 2 languages, then you should pay more attention to local or regional agencies, instead of global agencies that guarantee to cover all languages. For a better choice, you should check out whether you should work with a regional or global translation agency, check out this blog post.
- The types of services they offer. Do they cover all services you need? Working with a partner who can handle all your demands helps you reduce costs in coordination.
- The company’s portfolio or CV. These references show their real experience in the localization industry as well as in localizing content in your industries. Those with long related experiences guarantee fewer mistakes in the process and better overall quality.
After doing the research, you should have a shortlist of 5-7 translation partners that you find potential for your upcoming translation projects.
Step 2 – Compare their competences
In the next step, you should contact your shortlisted translation partners from the first step with related questions to help you better understand their services and how they proceed with a translation project. You may draft a table to compare their abilities based on the following criteria.
Which translation partners offer the rate that is within your budget? Although every company expects to have the highest quality translation at the lowest price, it might not be wise to choose whichever offers the lowest rate. Because quality and price are proportionate.
Your company should request a quote from the potential partners and compare the average rates they offer to determine a reasonable price. Don’t forget to ask if there is any discount or hidden cost/tax.
The experience of other people who have worked with a translation partner can be a valuable source for your decision. If they are translation agencies, it is worth considering the reviews from translators who have collaborated with them as well. The reason is that a good translation agency must show their respect to both clients and translators who bring them great values. And only by having good translators, an agency can bring good quality to you – the client.
You can check platforms specialized for translators like ProZ to see translator reviews. There is an unwritten rule that every professional translation company in the world should have a Proz profile. If they don’t, it may be an alarming sign. The company may have fraud or other issues that make them prohibited from Proz. You make take a look at GTE Localize’s Proz profile for your reference.
3. Customer Services
Responsive support from the translation agency is a key factor for a successful translation project. Therefore, you should take into consideration their support for you. Do they answer your questions with full and clear information? Is the responding time quick? But remember to take time differences into consideration for more accurate evaluation.
Certification is the proven records of the translators or translation agencies’ skills and ability to handle translation projects.
For translators, you should choose those who have undergone professional education and training in languages and translation (such as a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation or ATA Certification).
For translation agencies, it is highly recommended that you work with those who are ISO-certified which shows their commitment to follow globally recognized standards. Considering translation agencies with ISO 9001:2015 for Quality management system or/and ISO 17100:2015 Requirements for translation services.
Another factor you should consider is the partnership and memberships your translation partners are engaging in. It shows their commitment to expanding their relationship and network with professional translation organizations and partners as well as their continuous effort in updating their knowledge about the localization industry.
6. Other factors
In addition to the main criteria above, you should also think about the below factors:
- Their accepted currencies;
- Accepted office locations;
- Payment term;
- The ability to work with CAT tools/QA tool/other systems required by you;
- Their willingness to support other specific requirements from your company.
After considering these factors, you should narrow down the choices to about 3 translation partners for the next evaluation.
Step 3 – Sign the NDA
Before evaluating the partners by a test, remember to sign an NDA because you cannot afford to have any of your company documents leaked during the testing process. Normally, a good translation partner will proactively remind you about signing the NDA or be willing to sign it when you ask.
Step 4 – Ask them to do a test
Having the translation partners do a short test is the best way to evaluate their abilities to handle your projects. The test should contain content and terms relating to the real projects to guarantee better precise test results.
Normally the translation partners will accept a free test of fewer than 300 words per language. You may ask them to note down if they have any comment during the test so that your reviewer can understanding better their word choices, reference sources or overall, the logic behind their test translation outcome. In that way, you can make sure to not overlook the real good partners.
Ideally, the test reviewer should be a native member of your internal team who can evaluate both the translation accuracy and the suitability of the style/tone. Just remind your internal reviewer that it is still a translation/localization, not rewriting the content in the new language. We’re adding this point because sometimes, the internal reviewer may expect the test candidates to fly far away from the source text. It’s not that the candidates are not able to do so technically, but they are not in the position to do so. In a translation test, the accuracy criteria is still a big matter.
Considering the quality of the test and the factors mentioned in step 2, you should be able to rank your partners from the best to the worst one now. Then it’s simple to proceed with the best one and have the second-best one as the backup option.
Step 5 – Start the project
The real localization task only begins now, after you have done the recruitment stage. To guarantee a smooth project, your company and the translation partner should communicate regularly to catch up on the progress or solve any issues that arise.
Step 6 – Have a backup plan
In some cases, the translation partner you are planning on working with might not meet the deadlines or the quality is not good enough. To make sure the translation is ready on schedule for your company’s business plan, having a backup plan is essential. It can be another translation partner on your selecting list that can be available to handle the project on short notice.