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Hidden Costs of Choosing a Low Cost Translation Provider

Budgets are tight. We all feel the pressure to find the most cost effective services. Bottom line cost estimates are easy to compare across potential providers. Vendor quotes can be confusing if they bundle all of the services into a single price without providing sufficient detail. What if something goes wrong? What if there is even a small change to the content? What if the project is delayed or if the client reviewer is unavailable?

The old adage tends to ring true with localization services; you certainly get what you are willing to pay for. Because high-quality translation requires that you engage in a full formula of dependent variables. These important functions include a road-tested process, style guide and full glossary development, a detailed quote, and a commitment to high-quality results.

Proven process

I can’t overemphasize the importance of having a proven process for creating high-quality localized content. The process must be well-defined, controlled and repeatable. For a website project for example, GPI employs a 14-step process to ensure predictable, high-quality results.

1. Review & Analysis of source website assets
2. Best practice multilingual workflow based on CMS
3. Project Kick-Off
4. Subject Matter Training and Research
5. Content Cultural Correctness Assessment
6. Glossary and Style Guide Development
7. SEO – Keywords Research & Localization
8. Transcreation & Copywriting
9. Localization of any Graphics
10. Localization of any Documents
11. Localization of any Multimedia
12. Basic Online QA & Testing
13. Search Engine Marketing
14. Launch Language Versions

Some steps are performed in parallel and the exact sequence of these steps can be modified to coordinate with your specific project plans and resources. If your translation agency has not defined the process in a well documented manner, or is missing some of these important elements, STOP!

Risking the brand

Risking the brand

Undoubtedly, significant investments have been made in cultivating your brand voice, tone, and promise. Beyond simply translating the content from source to target language, extra effort must be made to ensure continuity across the localization process to retain these important brand attributes. Through creation adherence to style guidelines and the development of a comprehensive glossary, important brand consideration will be less likely to be “lost in translation”. The cost of getting this wrong is potential damage to the brand on the global market.

Change orders

Nothing can increase frustration faster than learning from your chosen, low-cost translation provider that certain key elements were not included in the initial quote. Shortcuts can be taken by not using qualified linguists, eliminating important proofreading and editing cycles, or poor desktop-publishing. You might find that getting to an acceptable level of service and quality will incur the dreaded change order process. It does not take too many little changes or additional requests to quickly find your original quote to grow very large.

Doing it twice . . . or thrice

So you made the decision to go with the lowest bid. You have spent hours of internal resources managing the project and lining up reviewers. The localized content now sits in your inbox; freshly delivered from your low cost translation vendor. It is ready for final review.

The feedback is saddening, maddening. The original work took so long to get just right and the translated content looks and sounds well . . . completely foreign. Your reviewers refuse to sign off and for good reason. Your only choice is to start the process all over again. Now you’re saddled with not only paying for the services again, but also an extended deadline and a reinvestment of everyone’s time to get the project done. Wow!

In Summary

You have a fiduciary responsibility to try to get the most for your money. And sometimes this means that the lowest bid will actually suffice. If the lowest bidder has a strong reputation, a solid process and has made an effort to include all of the necessary services to produce a high quality deliverable, you are in good shape. Heed the warnings I detailed above. Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be fooled by a vague list of services nicely packaged up into a tidy price. Do a little research about best practices and the best questions to ask. Make the agency explain why the charge for certain services and why they are performed in a particular sequence.