Tips for Choosing a Translation Vendor: Part 1

As companies increasingly conduct business across continents and cultures in today’s global economy, translation services are rapidly becoming a necessity for key company documents. Yet translated sales and marketing documents, legal materials, technical documents, and human resource materials are only effective if the language accurately connects with and meets the needs of the reader.

So, what do you look for when hiring a translation vendor for your project? Four key areas are expertise, experience, credentials, and quality control. In this post, we’ll focus on expertise, experience, and credentials.

Target Language Expertise
The ideal translator is someone who is a native speaker of the language you are translating into, or, another way to put it would be the target language of the document. Native speakers will often be more fluent in the language and more aware of the language’s nuances, style, and cultural influences than a non-native speaker.

That kind of linguistic expertise, combined with the initiative of asking questions and researching to gain understanding of the source document and its language, can help significantly increase the accuracy of the transcript as well as its effective connection to the audience.

Three types of experience to evaluate when looking for a translation vendor are target language, translation background, and industry knowledge. Points to consider in these areas are:

  • length of time the vendor has been translating into your document’s target language
  • amount of work the vendor has done in your document’s target language
  • length of time lived/living in the geographical area of your document’s target language
  • how the vendor has maintained their translation proficiency
  • kinds of documents the vendor has translated
  • work portfolio in your particular industry

Credentials complement the other two areas of target language expertise and experience. Credentials could come in the way of association memberships, workshops, and certifications. Does the translation vendor belong to any associations? For example, TTE belongs to the American Translator Association. Has the translator advanced and complemented their experience with workshops or certifications through professional organizations? How has the translation vendor kept up to date with their skills?

Translation itself, like many things, is a work of science and art woven together. A translation vendor selection process is also both a science and an art. Expertise, experience, and credentials are just a few key areas to look at when selecting a translation vendor. Others areas include cost, customer service, a good business match, and quality control processes.

Later this month we’ll focus on quality control aspects and how it relates to choosing a vendor – starting at a place you may least expect. Come back to our blog in a couple of weeks for more tips that will help make your translation project successful. Also, check out our Winter 2013 Newsletter for tips on laying a good foundation once you start a translation project.

One last thing – before you leave the blog, we’d love for you to add to the conversation. What have you found helpful in looking for a translation vendor? What kinds of questions did staff at your company ask about expertise, experience, and credentials?