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April 24, 2020 |

Top 7 Mistakes Companies Make When Hiring a Language Service Provider

When hiring a translator or a language service provider for the first time, most companies don’t know what to expect. At the same time, they tend to minimize their role in the process, which can lead to misunderstandings pretty fast. 

Even the most successful translation agency can make errors when linguists lack context or receive the wrong information to work with. Luckily, you can easily avoid any faux pas if you’re aware of the situations you might encounter and learn how to protect your company when hiring a language service provider. 

Here are seven mistakes many companies make when first contracting a translation agency and how you can avoid them. 

1) Hiring Without Knowing the Scope of Your Project 

Once you decide that you want to take your company global, you need to do several things before hiring a language service provider. That’s because before you can ask someone to work for you, you should know what you expect from them in terms of workload and quality. 

You can’t get a fair price for your project or correct turnaround estimations if translators don’t know what you want and how you want it. At the same time, without a clear list of expectations and target languages, you can’t even know for sure whether the language service provider you wish to work with is a good fit for your project. It’s a short road from here to a contract that won’t help you reach your business goals, but will drain your budget. 

Start with thorough market research and decide where you want to expand your business. Only when you know the languages that you want to localize for, can you start looking for the right translation agency. 

2) Being Unprepared for International Expansion

Another common mistake that companies make when hiring a language service provider is not having a plan. When you start a collaboration with a team of linguists, you should already have a strategy in place. For instance, it’s useful for translators to know what type of content you want to translate, what population segments you want to target, and what approach to adopt for your marketing strategy. 

Translators need both background information about your brand and context to create effective messages that can generate engagement. So, you need to be specific when it comes to your brand voice, your audience and their expectations. 

3) Failing to Set a Budget

Localization is a complex process, whether you need to localize your website, app, software, videogame, or packaging. It requires a series of technical adjustments and, depending on your industry and scope, the intervention of a series of linguists and local specialists.

With so many people working on the project, it’s hard to keep track of expenses. The only way to make sure everything proceeds according to your plans is to set a budget and communicate it to your language service provider right from the start. 

If this is your first translation project, chances are you don’t even know how many types of costs it involves besides the actual translation. Most probably, images will require editing, your text will need to be formatted, or your video content will imply hiring a professional voiceover.   

An experienced translation agency will be able to tell you from the beginning what can and can’t be done based on your needs and resources. At the same time, a professional team will find adequate solutions to help you reach your goals without spending more than you can afford. 

4) Not Asking for References

Not asking for references is one of those mistakes that you can avoid with a simple phone call or email. It’s easy to fall for “experts” when you’ve never worked with a translation company. That’s why it’s better if you go beyond what’s written on their website and ask to talk with one or two of their previous clients that have had similar projects. 

A language service provider that isn’t comfortable with sharing information about previous projects is a red flag. It’s perfectly fine to work with a new company that still doesn’t have a portfolio of clients, but you should know this right from the start. So, if you’re not ready to put your international expansion in the hands of just anyone with a website, make sure you call the references. 

Ask previous clients how the translation agency has handled their localization project and how likely they are to recommend the team to a friend. This way, you’ll know whether the clients are satisfied with the service. 

5) Making Hiring Decisions Based on Prices Only

When you buy translation services, the first thing you should know about the language service provider is if its teams have experience with your target languages and your niche. Specific fields, such as medical, legal, or marketing, require skills that go beyond general translations, so make sure the agency has the right collaborators to ensure quality and compliance. 

The price can’t be the only element that influences your hiring decision. If you choose the agency with the lowest price ranges, without evaluating their abilities, you risk not reaching your business goals. 

Translation errors and failed localization projects might be funny when they happen to other companies, but it’s not something you want to encounter. Keeping costs down is wise, but not if it means sacrificing quality. 

6) Working Without a Project Manager

Working without a project manager is another mistake that companies make hoping to cut corners. However, a project manager is essential to the success of your localization project. A central figure who keeps all specialists in one place will help you to maintain a high standard of quality for your international products. At the same time, a project manager makes sure that translators and localization experts respect deadlines and stay within budget.

This person will guide you from the first phases of your project until your localized product goes live and even further, as you have to manage maintenance and updates.

7) Trusting Your Translators Blindly

The last error on the list is in regards to how you manage your relationship with the language service provider once you’ve hired them. Even if you’re not an expert in languages or international business, you still know your company better than anyone. So, you should participate in all decisions regarding your international presence. Make sure you assign people from your company to work closely with the language service provider and keep an eye on all processes. 

You may not understand all the target languages to verify the accuracy of translations yourself, but you can evaluate the processes that are supposed to guarantee quality. You can also ask for tests before going live and check their results to make sure your target audience has the excellent user experience they deserve.

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