Companies planning to set up operations or develop new markets abroad often need to provide a variety of technical documentation in one or more foreign languages. Just what should a company look out for when seeking a suitable vendor to handle the translation of its product literature, user manuals, corporate guidelines, and the like? We present a few pointers for you – after all, you don’t want to have to delay a market launch because of a poor or late translation, especially in the current economic climate.
Let’s start with the content. After all, this represents your core business, and you’ll most likely want to make sure the translation reflects the high quality of your own products or services. So, if your company is active in the energy industry, the potential vendor should be able to provide evidence of expertise in your field, such as customer references, staff translators with a professional qualification in this area and projects implemented. Why should staff translators be preferred over “virtual teams” of freelancers? Well, having the translators and proofreaders in-house means the team knows each other and the customers and guarantees a consistently high level of quality. Most importantly it ensures that work can be done consistently and immediately and that you have access to a team which is always in place.
Let’s move on to another area, that of the formats of your documents. Maybe your company creates everything using standard office software, but technical departments sometimes also use specialist applications such as Microsoft® Visio® for flow charts or Adobe® InDesign® and even XML-based content management systems (CMS) or document management systems (DMS) to cope with more complex or more extensive documentation volumes. Your vendor should be able to handle these formats, and ideally have copies of the respective software so that the formatting of the translated version matches the source version. To resolve any language-related formatting issues, your vendor should preferably also have an IT department.
On the subject of tools, there are now quite a few translation programs on the market that can cut down the throughput time and costs and at the same time ensure consistency of terminology and reuse of previously translated material. Any translation company worth its salt should be able to support one or more of these programs and offer appropriate pricing models.
We talked earlier about the advantages of using competent staff translators, but what soft skills are important? Team work, for example. Good team work from sales through project management to the translation department itself means end-to-end quality: sales and project management combine to make sure your wishes are understood, project management and translation combine to make sure your wishes are fulfilled. You, the customer, can sit back and relax, confident that your work will be delivered on time, in the quality you need, at the price you were quoted.
- Established team of specialist and experienced in-house translators
- Competent and experienced in-house proofreaders for peer review
- Competent and experienced in-house IT department for software support and formatting
- Project manager as single point of contact
- Key account manager for all issues not directly relating to operations