Translations: sourcing out or sourcing in?

Translations: sourcing out or sourcing in?

Today, communicating multi-lingually is a basic ingredient for success - and successful companies know just how to ace the delicate balancing act of matching ambitions with substantial budgets.

Organisations that operate internationally have to speak their consumers’ tongues. Companies that want to start exploring foreign markets have to localise their products or services. To be honest, globalisation is not likely to stop anytime soon - so the need for multi-lingual communications will increase without a shimmer of a doubt.

This above calls for a strategic decision: should companies invest in an internal translations department or outsource their translation work?

A number of issues have to be considered very carefully:

  • Setting up or maintaining an internal translations service is a very costly enterprise. Whilst the advantages are that in-house translators work exclusively for your company and have access to corporate jargon, the disadvantages are not to be neglected. Apart from the huge costs already mentioned, translations are very complex processes that require a lot of expert knowledge and resources that might be time-consuming for your staff to acquire. Translation agencies tend to specialise in different fields of expertise and continuously update their translation memories to new developments in their fields. Entrusting your translation work to them can be a huge time saver when your company is innovating rapidly and your multi-lingual communications staff lack the time to keep up with the lingo.
  • It is essential to understand that translations today come about with the support of complex, specialised technology. Any company looking to optimise the ROI of its translation department will need to continuously invest in new software and IT resources to support their translation and localisation staff. Translation agencies are used to working on different kinds of supports. They can also deal with different file formats. In this way, they can provide their customers with vital shortcuts in the delivery process. They also have the expertise required to tailor workflows to the requirements of each client organisation and project.
  • Translation agencies work with a much wider pool of translators and can therefore deliver a lot faster and more efficiently. They add value by coordinating translations, proofreading and editing centrally. This translates into extremely fast turnarounds in times of crisis communications. In-house translators usually do not have the necessary resources to face this kind of challenge.
  • Translation agencies will provide your organisation with the tools needed to measure ROI (return on investment) so that you can keep track of your costs and improve your processes over time. Together with an expert from your chosen translation partner, you will also have the possibility to define KPIs. These will allow you to measure whether it makes sense to, for instance, communicate in a certain language or use certain platforms rather than others (e.g. social media). With multi-lingual communications requiring so many investments already, these metrics give you the possibility to make informed choices in terms of what you should stop doing or, alternatively, do more of in the future.
  • When you start working with any professional agency, they will assign account and project managers as your point of contact. Any queries will be handled by these dedicated professionals and they will make sure that you save valuable time. But they do not act alone: in the background is a whole team supporting them, ready to step in should they fall out. This is yet another asset that is very hard to match by an internal translation department.
  • Your agency is your repository of knowledge and a resource for the improvement of your business information. This means that they will build up glossaries that ensure consistent use of language registers, jargon and terminology, as well as style guides that can be defined for each of your corporate projects. It enables you to build on what was done before and make your mult-ilingual communications sustainable. With internal staff, the risk is that knowledge dwindles or disappears when people leave your organisation, so that you will have to invest again in the same resources as a consequence.
  • Last but not least, there are tasks that have to be done before any translation project can even start. If these are not performed correctly, the outcome will not meet the expected quality requirements. IT Systems and software have to be implemented and fully mastered by the staff, translation memories and glossaries have to be updated and maintained continuously, translator pools have to be extended with new professionals in different fields of expertise, a database of reference materials has to be kept up to date, …

Does all of the above mean that it is a very bad idea to have any in-house translation staff?

Not at all!

At Presence, we believe that it is worthwhile to optimise processes where it makes sense. Everything starts with an audit of your needs and ambitions so that an informed decision can be made on whether it makes sense to outsource certain processes or in-source others.

We have helped many clients come to the solution best suited to their needs and we have learned from experience that there is no 'on-size-fits-all' approach. Every organisation requires a tailor-made approach. Sometimes it makes sense to out-source 100% of your multi-lingual communications. In other cases it makes sense to in-source certain languages or types of support and in yet other cases it is a sound strategy to do only the proofreading internally.

But it all starts with a good chat and that is exactly what we love to do!

We would be very happy to hear about your translation needs at:

contact@presencegroup.eu or +352 26 19 60 54