Tips for Choosing a Translation Vendor: Part 2

A successful translation project starts long before pen is put to paper or a keyboard is tapped. It starts with an effective vendor selection process. February’s blog post discussed three key areas to evaluate in that process: expertise, experience, and credentials. This blog post continues on that theme with a fourth area to consider in choosing a translation vendor – quality control.

Focusing on quality control during the translation vendor selection process, BEFORE you start the project, can help you make a more informed decision and potentially avoid project pitfalls. As you begin to narrow down your options, ask for references. Maybe even do a test document with potential translation vendors. Engage with the vendor directly about the quality control processes and procedures they would execute with your document and project.

When garnering feedback from vendor references on their experience, inquire on a general and specific level. Find out:

  • how the translation vendor engaged in the project and process
  • what kind of interest was shown and initiative taken to learn about the company, product, or service for the most accurate translation possible
  • if the translation vendor asked questions for clarification and understanding regarding the company, terminology, product/service, and/or intended audience

Explore document specifics. What did the customer think about the final product?

  • Were target language nuances accurately and seamlessly incorporated into the document?
  • Did the document maintain a professional appearance in the target language? For example, text staying with corresponding diagrams or pictures.
  • Did the organization of the document still make sense in the target language?

References inherently are about putting the best foot forward. So, take a look at a sample project by the translation vendor. Or, have them do a test translation for your own company or project.

Engaging with the translation vendor themselves is the third way to explore quality control systems they have in place. Machine-based translations are notorious for producing incomplete and flawed documents, so first and foremost confirm people are doing the actual translation. Ask about the proofreading process. Find out how projects and work flow are managed. Explore what steps are in place to increase efficiency and accuracy – which also keeps expenses down and affects your bottom line cost. For example, translation memory software can aid in translating repetitive words or phrases and be a useful tool for building a database of key concepts and terms. Ask if the vendor offers certified translations.

One final aspect of effective quality control processes is the positive and professional business relationship you have with the translation vendor you select. Once you start on the project, remain engaged with them. If they ask questions, do your best to answer them. Establish a strong foundation for the project. (You can read more about that in our winter 2013 newsletter.) And then build on that foundation with open dialogue for an effective and excellent end product.

One last thing – before you leave our blog, we’d love for you to add to the conversation. What ways have you been effectively able to get accurate pictures from references? What kind of quality control elements have you been impressed with in the translation vendors you have used?