A new product launch involves advance planning and investments in research, packaging, engineering, marketing, and more in order to ensure product success. Unfortunately, many manufacturers don’t consider language translation services until the very last minute – and often only as an afterthought. But by then, it is already too late to properly plan and budgeting for translation services can easily fall to the wayside. This can lead to extra costs or a delayed product launch, resulting in lost revenue. It can also seriously undermine the quality of your product manuals and other important translated documents.

You can’t effectively budget if you don’t understand how translation services are priced. You also need to know which factors can make your translation project more or less labor-intensive, impacting costs. Here are some key points to consider prior to product launch to help your organization better anticipate your translation needs and streamline your process of budgeting for translation services.

Consider the length and complexity of your document when budgeting for translation services.

In general, a short product brochure will take a lot less time to translate than a complex user manual, with technical terminology, that spans hundreds of pages. Many organizations fail to take differences in length, complexity or file format into account when budgeting their translation costs for product launch. Translation services are typically priced based on word count, so the more text, the higher the cost. This is why it is a good idea to first streamline and edit your document(s) in English, to reduce unnecessary extra verbiage and save money and time.

Determine whether you will need your document translated into one or multiple languages.

Translating one document from English into French will take less time and resources than translating your document into five different languages. For example, if translating one document from English into French costs $500, then also translating it into Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, could cost $2,000 or more. So plan ahead and determine your language needs well ahead of product launch. Also, translating additional documents into the same language, as a single project, may save time and cost less than treating them as individual projects.

Some languages are more expensive to translate into than others.

In general, languages that are most commonly spoken, or for whom many professional translators exist, are less expensive to translate into than others. For example, translating a document into Spanish may cost $500, but the same document translated into Turkish or Nepali will likely cost much more. That’s because there are far fewer professional translators available for those languages. And taking highly technical subject matter expertise into account reduces the pool of qualified resources even further. Supply and demand plays a role in determining market price for technical translation services. Not taking these factors into consideration when preparing to translate documents can result in unexpected costs or delay your product launch.

Consider what technical complexities or cultural barriers will need to be addressed.

Suppose a U.S.-based company is planning a product launch for a new fly-fishing product within the Chinese market. Not only must the translator know English and Chinese – he or she must also understand the technical aspects and terminology of fly-fishing equipment. And because the product concept is not well known to the Chinese market, the translator will also have to account for cultural nuances when translating to properly convey the product messaging to this audience. Issues such as these can take more time for professional translators to address and therefore, need to be considered in order to complete your translation in time for product launch.

Have realistic expectations regarding the level of service you are getting for the price.

Good quality translation is a professional service provided by specially trained individuals. Translators are not only proficient in the languages involved and trained in linguistics and translation, but they also typically often have masters’ or other advanced degrees and industry credentials. To be effective, they must be fluent in the source language, native-speakers of your target language and vetted for their subject matter expertise. In short, they must be able to fully comprehend your content in order to translate it properly.

For manufacturers, it is especially important to use translators who also have technical and industry expertise to ensure accurate document translations for your target audience. Organizations that pick the lowest cost provider often regret that choice when the final deliverable comes back full of inaccuracies or very late. Don’t short-change yourself or undermine the success of your product launch by trying to save a few pennies. The potential cost, in terms of damage to your product’s success or company’s reputation, is not worth the risk.

Now that you have insight into some of the factors that determine translation costs, you should be better able to anticipate and budget for translation services in the context of product launches.


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.