Avoiding the Business Risks of Poor Translation

Last week, we wrote about how poor translation is a business risk. The business cost of a badly translated text in terms of your company’s image cannot be quantified but must be taken very seriously. At best a poor translation of a marketing text fails to convince a customer to purchase your product. At worst case a poor translation of a contract leads to a legal dispute. The possible consequences of sub-standard translation can be far-reaching. So how can companies avoid the risks of poor translation?


Good quality starts with good people

Competent Translators

When thinking about quality translation, the best place to start is the translator. There isn’t one specific set of criteria that can characterize all great translators. We look at a number of characteristics when choosing our translators. We consider: mastery of source and target languages, experience and expertise, proficiency with computer tools. (Learn more from our post on what makes a good translator)

Great Project Managers

Besides the translator, project mangers can have a huge impact on the quality of translation. After all, it's the PM who decides what resources to employ, how to break down the project into tasks, what processes to use. (We know what it takes to manage a project well. Read our post about great project managers )


Good quality takes time

Businesses often don’t realize how much time translation can take. The misperception stems in part from widely-advertised automatic translation tools (such as Google Translate) that can supposedly translate thousands of words of text with a single mouse click. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, though, you'll know that the quality of automatically-produced translations is far from dependable, and that serious businesses won’t use machine translation for their own documents, Google included.

In reality, translation is a multi-step process: The text is analyzed, the appropriate translator is sourced, the document is prepared, parallel documents are pulled and useful terminology extracted, the translator translates the text, an editor edits the text, the text undergoes any post-translation work such as desk-top publishing, the final document is proofread, the translation undergoes final quality controls. And these are the just the necessary steps for the most basic, straight-forward project.

So what do you do when a rush job is unavoidable? When time is in short supply, you need a team of competent and experienced professionals who know how to manage tasks and prioritize to favor speed without sacrificing quality. See the previous paragraph for more details.


Good quality doesn't come cheap

You won't get filet mignon for the price of ground chuck, just as you won’t get an Audi A4 for the price of a Toyota Corolla (and especially not for the price of a Tata Nano!) The same applies to translation. You won’t get a professional translator for the price of a housekeeper. Our professional translators have university-level degrees, have often spent years working in their field of specialization, maintain appropriate linguistic resources, and continue to develop their skills through professional development (See the first paragraph for more details). There will always be another translator, or another agency that can offer you a lower price. But in the world of business, you get what you pay for.

If budget is an issue, there are other ways to save money on document translation (Read our post about the dos and don’ts of getting document translation for less).




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