How to Save Money on Translations the SMART Way

July 13, 2012 // From our blog »

With this economy we are all trying to find new ways of saving money.  We also need high-quality service and products; cutting corners on certain necessities is never advisable.

Translation can be paramount to the international strategy of a company and it can be a necessary step in the success of your personal or professional ambitions.  Therefore, the quality of a translation should never be sacrificed, so how can you save on translation?

- First: Plan ahead.  If you know you are going to need something translated for next month, do not wait till the very last minute to start looking for a translator.  Try to find someone who suits your needs in advance.  It could be an agency, a small translation bureau or a freelancer, but all of them will normally charge more if a 20-page document has to be translated over the weekend.  Even if it is just one page, a 24-hour turnaround usually costs more.  So be smart and start looking for a translator as soon as possible in order to have enough time to find the professional you need, get several quotes and choose the best service provider for your specific needs.

- Second: Have the final document ready.  Having a document translated and later changing the original can result in extra costs for you.  Although it might not always be possible, try to have the final version of the original document ready before you send it to the translator.  In this way, you can save yourself some money and speed up the process.  This does not mean that you need to wait until all the originals are completed and edited to start looking for a translator.  You can start early and shortlist the translators with the experience and qualifications you require.  Later you can contact them to request a quote when the original is almost ready.  Remember to give the translators all the specifications of the project but be willing to listen to their insight.  They might suggest changes regarding culturally sensitive issues that you might not be aware of.  Take advantage of their expertise.

- Third: Provide materials in editable format.  If you are technologically savvy, you might want to go ahead and convert that PDF into a Word file.  If the formatting is a nightmare for you, leave it to the professionals, but if it will just take 5 minutes, give it a try, as you will usually pay more if the document you need to translate is in non-editable format.

- Finally: Hire the same professionals.  As finding a translator can take time-and time is money­- invest your time wisely.  Take enough time to find the right translator from the start, that is, the first time you need a translation in a particular field.  Ideally, if you are satisfied with their services, you would hire the same translator(s) over and over again.  Working with the same professionals will allow them to develop a glossary/data base with all the terms used by your company and ensure consistency in all translations, which will probably allow the translator(s) to be faster and more productive.  This may or may not result in a discount for you, but it will certainly save you time (no need to explain what your basic requirements are every time, no time spent looking for new translators, negotiating new conditions, payment terms, etc.) and guarantee greater consistency in all translations.

Though the focus should not be on cost but rather on value, try to look for savings where quality will not be sacrificed.  In my opinion, planning ahead, delivering final versions of the original material in editable format and hiring the same professionals over time, can help you save money while obtaining high-quality translations.

For great advice on how to buy translation services, check out ATA’s publication “Getting it Right – A guide to buying translation.”  It’s short and easy to read and contains real-life examples of good and bad translation-buying experiences.

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