Manufacturers that are new to needing translation services often struggle to establish and manage an effective internal planning process for procuring translation services. This lack of a planning process can, in turn, create inefficiencies and duplication of effort that lead to difficulties in getting your important documents translated accurately and on time.
Here are 7 factors to consider when assessing what type of internal planning process for translation services procurement may work best for your organization.
1. Consider the size and structure of your company.
In small companies, the responsibility for getting a document translated often falls to a department head or administrative staff. In larger companies, the responsibility might fall to the individual department needing the service (Sales, Compliance, Engineering, etc.) or to a centralized working group charged with the task. Assess how your organization operates and think about what kind of planning process makes the most sense for your company, given your size and structure.
2. Anticipate which departments will most likely need translation services.
Perhaps your sales or marketing teams are going to go to an international trade show in a few months. If so, find out if they will need to translate product brochures or other materials in time for the conference. Or perhaps your regulatory affairs team or engineering group is evolving to the point where they need translation services on a more frequent basis. Be sure to ask. Anticipating what the specific needs are and who has them can help you put the right planning process in place.
3. Establish ownership of the translation planning process.
Once you have thought through Steps 1 and 2 above, determine which individuals within your organization should own the translation process. If it will be specific departments or administrative areas, identify who the key point person(s) should be for handling translation needs as they come up. Communicate who your point people are to others within your organization. Having designated translation “owners” will eliminate a lot of confusion and last minute scrambling any time a new document needs to be translated. Assigning ownership will also help build an internal knowledge base about the translation process, ensuring greater consistency and efficiencies over time in how your translation projects get done.
4. Consider whether you want to have a centralized or decentralized planning process.
Some companies prefer to have a decentralized planning process. For example, if Sales needs something translated, Sales is responsible for procuring the translation; if it’s Engineering, then Engineering is responsible. This scenario can often work well, especially if these departments have only occasional translation needs, rather than recurring needs. However, if your company has recurring needs or documents that need to be revised periodically, such as user manuals or product brochures, a centralized planning process may work best from the standpoint of budgeting and document revision control. This means having one department in charge of all translation needs within the company as they arise. Marketing, Sales, Regulatory Compliance, and Product Development are all good possible candidates to serve as your translation command-and-control center.
5. Consider and plan around budgetary constraints.
Procuring translation services can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per document. This will depend on the length and complexity of the document that needs translation, the number of languages it needs to be translated into, and various other factors. Consider which departments have the budget to cover these needs. Administration or Corporate Communications may be a natural fit to serve as the hub for your translation needs. But because these functions don’t produce revenue, they may not have money in their budgets for translation. On the other hand, your sales, engineering or marketing groups will likely have more resources. Think through these realities and be sure to differentiate between who manages the translation planning process versus who pays for it – and get agreement up front.
6. Integrate your internal planning process for translation services into your company’s other internal document control processes.
Once you have an internal planning process for translation services established, you will want to dovetail it with any other document control processes that already exist in your company. Suppose your sales team is responsible for translating anything they need on their own. Sales will be attending their first trade show in China, so they get a product brochure translated into Chinese. But if Sales doesn’t know that Marketing will be updating the brochure with new information, the result is that the outdated product brochure gets translated. It’s important to make sure that the right hand knows what the left is doing, or you will waste time and resources by having to translate the same document multiple times.
7. Partner with an experienced and reputable translation services vendor.
A good translation services company can not only provide you with high quality translation services, but will also work with you and your company to help you sort through options and establish a planning process that works for your organization. After a few projects, your vendor should also be able to identify patterns regarding your translation needs. Based on that, they will be in a position to advise you on specific things to do internally to save your company time and money on future translation projects. Don’t hesitate to ask for the guidance you need.
Taking charge and setting up an internal planning process for translation services can be a little unsettling. But with the tools and tips provided here, you should be well-equipped to move your organization along the learning curve.