Here are some factors to consider when choosing translation service provider between in-house and outsourced translation.
Quality & Consistency
A professional translator who has studied long and hard and has years of experience, but who doesn’t know your company’s culture or someone who knows your products inside out but who isn’t a professional linguist? Which is preferable? This is where the debate gets interesting.
The translation industry has developed multiple tools and processes such as terminology management, translation re-use, and intelligent machine translation post-editing to ensure linguistic quality and consistency. Implementation of such tools and processes can be costly and time-consuming.
Many companies find that combining the respective skills of these resources is often the best way forward. Setting up a dialogue between the product specialist and the translation agency to define terminology and preferred style before the translation starts and then letting the translator use this information to create the foreign language version can tick both quality boxes.
In our experience, there are different benefits to using both translation service provider (internal and external resources), according to whether you have a tiny requirement needed quickly or a much bigger body of work you want to have done within a few days. In-house employees are often better placed to respond to short and urgent requests (assuming they are available) as LSPs will have to complete paperwork and find a suitable linguist before they can start. However, due to the resources they have at their disposal, LSPs can achieve better results if they will respond to larger requirements that may need a team of translators working full time to turn them around on the schedule. In addition, as we will see in the following sections, LSPs often have the technology that can increase productivity and turn the project round more quickly.
This is seemingly not a problem. There is often no tangible cost associated with using an internal resource while invoices from LSPs can soon mount up with regular work. It can be a disputable issue though.
When calculating the benefits should the experts consider the cost of these internal resources not doing their ‘proper’ job needs? If your sales are suffering because your best rep is busy translating, then your cost saving can be ineffective. However, if the impact of completing the translation has little effect on the employee’s role, then it is hard to argue with the cost benefit of using an internal translation service provider.
Modern translation requirements often demand scalability without advanced notice. This can happen when an international business opportunity calls for rapid operational expansion. It means your translation service provider must have the technological infrastructure and vast linguistic resources available to scale as your translation needs increase. Even if you may have in-house teams that speak different languages, they rarely have the needed tools and large resources available for rapid scalability.
This, it would seem, is the LSP’s trump card: Translation Memories, Termbases and even Machine Translation with Post Editing can improve turnaround times and increase quality by ensuring terms translated consistently.
In addition, many LSPs offer content management system integration tools to facilitate the translation management process and can often edit non-standard file formats.
Whilst this technology has long been the reserve of LSPs, many companies with large, ongoing translation requirements have invested in the technology themselves and either appoint internal resources to do the work within their framework or even request that LSPs do the same. However, this remains out of reach for many companies who rely on an LSP to access the cutting edge technology used in the industry.
6. Workflow management
Having in-house translators makes it easier to adjust to urgent projects or respond to last-minute changes. However, projects vary in complexity and can require additional project management, engineering, and linguistic support. Noone expects in-house translators to manage the budget, project timelines, translation data or any other issues that come up during the localization process.
Project management comes as part of the service that an LSP provides. In this workflow, a dedicated team is accountable for project deadlines and delivery. Not only this, but project managers have the technology and process expertise to optimize the translation process for your project’s specific needs.
Let’s sum it up!
There is no definite answer to the debate about translation service provider: internal vs external resources. Much depends on the quality and availability of both the internal and external resources, but wherever you place your translation budget, keep in mind that a joint effort can be the best way forward. No professional LSP will begrudge you using internal resources where it works better for you in terms of costs or deadlines, but consider sharing this content with your LSP so they can include that translation in your Translation Memory, allowing you to achieve future benefits.
Likewise, if you are asking an LSP to complete a piece of work that an internal resource has successfully completed, it would be remiss not to pass on the previous translations for reference. The internal resource could even can to be a part of the planning of the project so the LSP can adapt coherent style and terminology. Translation buyers shouldn’t feel they have to pick one solution over the other, but should rather consider how the resources can best work together. LSPs must also realize that there are situations where it suits their clients better to source work internally. They should embrace this situation and work with their clients to ensure that they can still enjoy the advantages that their technology and service can offer.