Translation Headaches Cured: Best Practices for the Buyers of Translations

LavaCon Session Summary: Globalization Track

Presenter: Scott Carothers, Kinetic

Canada imposes a legal requirement to deliver content in two official languages (in most cases)SessionSummary-translationheadaches. As such, translating content from Canadian English to Canadian French has been part of most product development lifecycles for the majority of my career.

In my experience, the translation process (even if you only translate only one language) can be problematic, confusing, and expensive — a big headache. As such, I was very much looking forward to attending this presentation, and I  learned something that has changed my perception of translation outsourcing.

Scott Carothers is a Senior Globalization Executive at Kinetic. His session (Translation Headaches Cured: Best Practices for the Buyers of Translations) presented a new way (at least new for me) of managing the process of outsourcing translations to language service providers (LSPs).

The Vendor Dependent Approach

I’ve only ever worked with in-house translation, but I’ve gone through the process of investigating outsourcing alternatives on more than one occasion. And I’ve always looked at it from one perspective — where you move from in-house translation to selecting one external vendor (i.e., you become dependent on that one vendor).

Scott confirmed that my experience (the one-vendor approach) is consistent with the industry. This approach; however, can present several concerns:

  • There are 28,000 translation vendors out there, so why limit yourself to just one?
  • Why become tied to a vendor’s technology?
  • There are no industry standards for validating or rating vendors, so why become tied to a vendor before you know if they can deliver to your requirements and parameters?

The Vendor Independent Approach

Scott presented a translation outsourcing process that provides an alternative to the typical vendor-dependent (one vendor) approach.

This process focuses on managing translations as a commodity. Instead of being tied to one vendor, you take control of the localization process by using a translation process management system to manage a bidding process between multiple vendors. By using this approach, you create a decentralized process where you set your own parameters and requirements and, in theory, always select the best vendor for a particular job.

Moving to this process can provide significant return on investment in the following areas:

  • Best practices
  • Quality assurance
  • Informed decisions
  • Project management
  • Improved value and cost savings

I’d recommend taking a look at Scott’s presentation for more details about this process, possible benefits, and for specific details relating to how the  translation process management system manages the vendor bidding and translation workflow.

Ryan Minaker

Ryan Minaker is a professional technical communicator. With over 10 years experience in the field, he has played the role of technical writer, information architect, usability specialist, and content strategist.

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