A few tips to cut down on your translation costs

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Marie-Claude Messier | Vice President, Business Development

“Tips to cut down on your costs”… Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what a VP of Business Development is doing handing out that kind of advice. Well, if you think I’m about to give you the inside scoop on how to get a deal, think again. What I will tell you is how you can get the most out of your professional translation services. Allow me to explain.

Unlike many of my colleagues at TRSB, I don’t have a background in translation. As surprising as that may seem, it’s actually a huge plus when it comes to my work. Since I lack the in-depth knowledge of the translation process that language professionals have, I tend to ask a lot of candid questions—the same ones that clients may ask. As a trained engineer, I’m also always thinking about efficiency, some might say it’s an obsession. Thanks to the combination of these two traits, I’m also somewhat fixated on taking notes, making lists, and setting reminders. But believe me, it’s worth it in the end.

The many projects I’ve worked on since joining TRSB have given me a window into certain “mistakes” that all clients make at one point or another. (These aren’t actual mistakes, hence the quotation marks; they’re more like the consequences of inexperience or even inattention.) When these “mistakes” add up, the client inevitably ends up paying the price. The good news is that they’re easily preventable. And here’s where my little obsession pays off.

Based on what I’ve seen, I’ve drawn up a list of things to do— much nicer than a list of things not to do. That’s because I’m a “glass half-full” kind of person! Refer to this checklist often to help you manage your translation costs and get the most possible value from this service.

CHECKLIST

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate! Translation may seem like a straightforward process: replacing language A with language B, with all the essential information contained in the source document itself. Granted, sometimes that’s true. But most of the time, it’s important to provide what I call the translation brief, which specifies the target audience, the official author, the purpose of the text, any reference documents, special instructions or terminology, etc. This information will increase your odds of getting a quality translation the first time, thereby avoiding costly revisions and corrections. That said, you may not always know what information to send to your translation provider. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the project manager, who will then ask you questions to better determine your needs.
  • Ask for a quote. Even if you know your mechanic’s hourly rate, you’d never get your car repaired without first asking for a quote, right? The same goes for translation. A quote will help you stay within your budget.
  • Factor translation time into the original document’s production schedule. This will help you avoid rush rates for last-minute jobs.
  • Group your translation requests. This will allow you to benefit from efficiency gains.
  • Combine translation and formatting requests. Again, you will avoid costly back-and-forth exchanges.
  • If possible, have only the final version of your document translated. Each new update (often a rush request) adds to your costs and risks introducing mistakes. However, since things move quickly these days, it’s very likely you’ll have to translate several versions of the same document. In that case, resist the temptation to make even the smallest changes yourself.
  • Before officially launching your translated website, have your translation partner review it online.
  • Before you send your translated document to the printer, have your translation partner proofread it.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. And best practices can vary from one client to the next. Don’t forget to check in with your translation partner and send them your comments. They’ll adapt to your situation and look for ways to lower your costs.