Theoretically, anyone can find freelance translators on the Internet and have them translate a text. It is probably cheaper than going to an agency, so why do so many businesses have their translations done at an agency in the first place?
Well, part of it is due to convenience. It is nice to go to one place that does it all, but it is much more than that, especially when dealing with multilingual projects. The bit of extra money that is paid in comparison to dealing directly with a freelance translator is completely justified if you are working with a good agency. An agency offers not only convenience, but also infrastructure, project management methodology, linguistic skills, the latest translation technology available, and from a business standpoint, a high level of organization and professionalism. All of these things help business save money over the long term in addition to ensuring quality and smooth operations.
Now, let’s look at some of the issues translation offices deal with on a daily basis:
- Agencies deliver thousands of words a day in a multitude of different languages.
- Agencies deal with hundreds of topics in a plethora of subject-matter areas.
- In order to translate in so many languages, Agencies deal with numerous translators located in some cases all over the world.
- The translation projects are subject to timescales where the aforementioned has to be done in the shortest time possible to deal with the fast-moving business world of today.
First of all, there are millions of translators in the world and everyone that speaks a foreign language and has a laptop can pose as a good translator, although only a handful of them are truly skilled in the trade. A good language service provider knows what to look for in a good translator. In saying this, it is only fair to give warning that there are, of course, “translation farms” that you have to watch out for. These companies tend to be the very cheapest agencies and offer dumping prices. It is of no surprise as it is commonplace that this exists in every industry. All that can be said on that note is, “buyer, beware.”
For the most part, good agencies require translators to have a university degree in translation. They should be subject to testing and quality reviews on a regular basis to not only achieve quality, but also maintain it over the long term. In addition, they should have experience in translating within certain fields. In most cases, it is required that the translator has lived in the country of the target language for a determined period of time. Only in this way is it possible to gain an understanding of the cultural nuances and in-depth knowledge that is required for translation. Last but not least, translators should have and use the latest tools available to ensure the best quality of translations at a professional level.
Agencies do not only offer a network of translators and proofreaders. They offer tested and tried project management methods and processes to assure that the translation at hand is of utmost quality. This includes a functioning project-management infrastructure that enables a high level of organization and communication between all stakeholders. Project management processes assure not only translation quality, but also customer service.
In addition to ensuring that the delivered translation has been properly proofread, something that is often overseen is the ability of the agency to ensure unity across several translations, ensuring that the translation in Italian, Spanish and German for example share the same set of ideas. This is something a single translator is unable to do.
Furthermore, an agency ensures that a set of terminology is established and upheld over the course of multiple translations done over a period of several years. For business, this aspect is absolutely crucial. This is done by developing a set of terminology lists and translation memories. These methods also help to save the customer money over the long term. If repeated segments occur in a translation, the agency collects these to make sure that the customer is not paying full price for services that have already been rendered. Please see the article on this blog about translation memory if you are unfamiliar with this technology.
The most important role of an agency has to do with customer service. This includes everything from receiving a clear and concise translation quotation to collection of requirements, consultation, rendering of services, all the way to final invoicing and evaluation of customer satisfaction upon completing the translation. For this reason, upon beginning a translation project, a clear line of communication should be made and evaluations should be attained by the customer even after the translation has been completed to ensure that the translation has been performed in terms of all the expectations at hand. A translator can be the best one in the world and a text can be flawless, but “the customer is king” and shall always be right, even in the complex world of translation.
Working with an agency has a lot of benefits that should not be underestimated. If you have yet to deal with an agency, all you have to do is send your document to one and tell them what languages you would like to have your document translated into. They will send you a quotation and you are on your way to obtaining translation services. Judging how good the services are shall be up to you.