Manufacturers have unique language translation service needs compared with other types of firms. It can be difficult to know which translation services vendor is the best choice. This is especially true if your organization is new to needing translation services.

To help you make the best selection, here is a short checklist for evaluating translation services. This checklist includes both important things to ask yourself – and your prospective translation services provider — before deciding:

Manufacturer’s Checklist for Evaluating Translation Services

1. Is this a one-time or ongoing need?

Manufacturers tend to have recurring needs for translation services. Today you may need to translate a website, a catalog and a product user manual. But a year from now, you may need to revise these based on product updates or a new product introduction.

If you think your needs will be ongoing, choose a translation services vendor that has a reputation for providing high quality work and exceptional customer service. Evaluate the individuals you will interact with to make sure you will be comfortable and confident working with them. You want to be sure of a good fit so that you can form a long-term partnership.

Establishing this partnership with your first project will not just help things go more smoothly this time.

It will also help you save time and money on future projects. That’s because the next time you need translation services, you will work with the same individuals who already know and understand your industry, your products, and your industry specific terminology. You won’t have to spend time and effort re-educating them.

Also, if you need to update previously-translated, lengthy documents, such as user manuals, your translation services vendor will already have all your project files in a central place, along with a database containing your translated text. This means you won’t have to reinvent the wheel for simple updates and that subsequent projects are consistent and reflect your stated preferences.

2. What kind of language support and industry expertise do you need?

Manufacturers often need to translate documents into multiple languages, especially as the markets for their products grow. When partnering with a translation services vendor, make sure they have all the language capabilities you’ll need so that you will be covered as your company expands into new markets. Your translation services provider should also be well-versed in the technical terminology specific to your industry. Find out if the person doing the actual translation is a native speaker of the language into which you are translating and also fluent in the source language, and a subject matter expert. A translator who does not understand the nuances of your message, as it applies to your industry, cannot possibly provide an accurate translation. Errors can seriously undermine the purpose of your documents and reflect poorly on your company.

3. Do you need help understanding translation process best practices?

Manufacturers just entering new markets often don’t have a formal process in place for obtaining translation services. Because no one internally “owns” the process, responsibility often falls to someone who is inexperienced in this area. If that is the case, make sure your translation services vendor is willing and able to educate you on best practices for your organization to follow. This will save you time, money, and effort in the long-run.

Here are a couple of common mistakes:

A well-meaning but inexperienced individual assumes he or she can speed up the process and save money by running a document through Google Translate first, then giving it to a professional translator to “just check over”. Or, the individual asks an internal employee who speaks Spanish, but may not have the appropriate subject matter or grammatical expertise, to translate the document from English into Spanish. Either of these shortcuts typically result in errors that have to be undone or even completely redone. Unnecessary rework leads to longer turnaround times and higher costs. Make sure your translation services vendor is willing to coach you on what to do and what NOT to do – to ensure a successful outcome.

4. What final deliverable(s) do you need?

Often, manufacturers new to translation will choose a translation services provider based on the lowest price. But the lowest cost-provider often doesn’t necessarily offer all of the services needed for a trouble free outcome. Did the low quote include document formatting in addition to translation? If your original file is in InDesign, and your low cost vendor returns a translated document in MS Word, how will you get the translated text back into InDesign? How long will that take and who will ensure that no errors are introduced in the process? Be sure your translation services firm will provide you with a mirror image of the document you gave them. Also, fully quality checked and ready for your immediate use.

5. Does the translation services provider stand behind its work?

Sometimes you or someone in your firm may have questions after you receive the final translation. If you are not completely satisfied with the final deliverable, or if there are post-delivery issues, make sure your translation services vendor will respond promptly and stand behind its work. Choosing a provider with a reputation for excellent customer service that assigns you a dedicated account manager is critical to a successful outcome.


The Manufacturers Guide to Technical Translation

Learn all you need to know about technical document translation, key questions to ask, and critical pitfalls to avoid.