We are currently in the era of empowered users. From music to publishing, from rental vehicles to accommodations, the Internet has allowed us to get rid of middlemen and contributed to the rise of a new so-called “sharing economy” where companies such as Airbnb, Fiverr, Uber, and even the Kindle Direct Publishing program by Amazon allow just about anyone to find almost any service under the sun directly. It has empowered users to start doing things on their own that previously required professional intervention. For instance, when did you last use a travel agent?
You might automatically assume that business localization and translation actually fall into this category too: If you spend a bit of time on Google, you will come across platforms that offer translations cheaply to anybody. Entrepreneurs that are mindful of the cost might start wondering why anybody would pay for professional translation services if cheaper alternatives can be found in just a few clicks. What value do language service providers actually (LSPs) add?
The question has at least 4 good answers:
Find and Manage Qualified Translators
One obvious advantage that an LSP has over the approach of attempting to find suitable translators for the project yourself is that all reputable agencies work with a team of seasoned translators, usually located in-country to keep up with the latest linguistic and cultural development. Rather than starting over new and untested workers, the biggest asset of an agency is its roster of reliable professionals.
It is not easy to manage these translators, particularly when you consider the fact that business projects typically involve multiple languages. Instead of just one language pair, you could find yourself working with multiple languages and a team of translators simultaneously localizing for multiple markets. Communicating and coordinating with them about the specifications of the project and scope changes, monitoring progress, requesting updates, confirming deadlines and availability, and keeping them abreast of the latest instructions requires routine and vigilance. Why not use an agency that has the procedures required in place already?
Control of Translation Quality
One mistaken assumption is that a person that speaks 2 languages is qualified to translate between the two according to AlphaTrad who provide translation services in Glasgow (Scotland). However, the reality is that translation is an incredibly specialized skills that depends on extensive study of cultures and languages together with years of experience to render the meaning of a particular language in another precisely.
It might be difficult to find reliable high-quality translators, but the difficulties multiply once specialized texts need to be localized within the tight deadlines of today. Professional LSPs have procedures for ensuring tight management of quality and feedback. At least one other professional proofreads each text after the initial translation and the project managers of the agency track reliability and performance.
The PM is responsible for maintaining term glossaries in complex work environments to ensure consistency over the course of massive translation projects as well as between languages and ensures that information is not duplicated or lost, and that final texts are delivered in timely fashion.
At first, it might not seem like much more effort is required to deal with a handful of freelance translation compared to a single translation service. However, if you have ever had to deal with international bank transfers and teams working in different time zones, you may start understanding the savings in fees and time that only an LSP is capable of offering. Instead of having to deal with repetitive tasks such as tracking invoices received and sent, confirming terms, and ensuring that payments are not missed with each translator that you work with, the LSP is a one-stop shop for handling such potential headaches for you.
Advanced File Formats and Translation Tools
The complexity of the existing formats and tools requires a high degree of specialization and experience from translators. Professional translators not only know how to use tools like translation memory or machine-assisted translation, but they also have ways of dealing with obscure file formats. If your translation is not just a straightforward text document but rather comes as part of an app or website, it is important to ensure that you work with an experienced agency that’s capable of extracting all the text that requires translation from the document - such as image descriptions, meta tags, and URLs - and fit the translations back into their rightful places. A single mistake in any particular document is enough to crash an app or break a webpage.