Purchasing translations: preferably centrally

When translation services are not purchased centrally within a company, then the company incurs additional costs. Plus, quality and consistency are compromised.

An example

A company’s marketing department orders an English translation of a brochure from Gemino. The marketing department, however, does not know that colleagues at a subsidiary have already ordered a similar marketing brochure to be translated into English with another language service provider. As a result, you have two service providers working on very similar texts. So what might be the problem with this? Professional translations are produced with aid of translation memory systems (TMs) and terminological databases. TMs assist the specialist translators and revisers by storing translations sentence by sentence and retrieving them for reuse during the translation in instances where identical or similar text passages are encountered. Terminological databases contain translations of company-specific technical terms and select these automatically if they are found in the text. These technologies enable consistent and efficient translation in this way.

Reusing means saving on costs

In our example, two language service providers translate two similar texts into the same language. Instead of a central TM in which all translations are saved, the service providers access two different TMs. The full potential of reusing translations cannot be taken advantage of in this case as each language service provider only draws on the content that it has translated. The more of translation that is reused and the larger the translation memories for individual language combinations, the cheaper the translations. The more entries there are in the translation memory, the quicker (and thus more efficient) the translating process is.

Inconsistency: often a consequence of a decentralized approach to contracting translations

If translations are contracted in a decentralized way, another unintended consequence is inconsistency of translations. This is because the two language service providers are not able to agree, for example, on specific terms (specialist terminology) or the stylistic handling of texts. In our example scenario, each language service provider produces its own terminological database and brings its own stylistic character to marketing texts. The translations are inconsistent among themselves.

Strategically contracting to language service providers

This does not necessarily mean that a company should only use a single language service provider. However, it does make sense to keep the number of language service providers manageable and to make strategic decisions when allocating services. This includes, for example, contracting certain language combinations to one and the same language service provider. In this case, it should be clear within the company which language service providers are used for which language combinations. It should also be clear which translation memories and terminological databases are available. Should translations be carried out internally at some point or a switch to another service provider be considered, translation memories and terminological databases can be requested from the language service providers.

The best value for money through central calls for tenders

Calls for tenders can help to source the language service provider with the best value for money. Calls for tenders are also more interesting for language service providers than ad-hoc collaboration because they allow for planning. With long-term collaboration, the specialist translators can familiarize themselves with the content to be translated. This has a positive effect on speed and quality.

Choosing too short an interval between tenders is inadvisable. A period of at least three years has been proven to be best due to the usually costly onboarding process. Where a company is fairly happy with its current solution, then longer periods can also be adopted.

Tenders also allow language service providers and companies to agree on the processes and services required and incorporate these into a framework agreement. Service and process descriptions (e.g. according to ISO 17100) are worked into a framework agreement. These facilitate the standardized, measurable and consistent quality of translations.

Our conclusion

A win-win scenario is achieved for companies and language service providers by purchasing translations centrally. In addition to linguistic quality, companies can assure themselves the best value for money with the service providers that best meet their requirements. Language service providers can ensure optimum quality and consistency.

At a glance: the benefits of purchasing translations centrally

  • Higher quality and reusability through central translation memories and ongoing cooperation
  • Reduction in administrative costs by reducing service providers to a strategically reasonable number
  • Central price negotiations and better opportunities for comparison through tenders
  • Uniform quality and service standards through contractually agreed service and process descriptions (e.g. according to ISO 17100)