While we can’t fully agree with the statement that size does not matter, when it comes to quality translation it’s not the most essential factor when choosing a Language Service Provider (LSP). With the translation industry expected to reach $46.21 billion by 2027 according to Verified Market Research forecast, it is necessary to find the right place for your translation project. There are a variety of LSPs on the market and you have to consider the pros and cons in line with your company needs.

Some of the factors to assess are internal to your company such as budget, language combinations, and type of content. While other factors are internal to the LSP such as number of translators they work with, type of services they offer, certain industry expertise, and many more. You need to consider them all in order to make the right choice.

Below you can find an idea of what is good to look for in your translation partner and what are the biggest benefits of selecting a small LSP for your translations.

Types of translation providers in the industry

Tthe first question you have to answer is how to recognize the right LSP. In order to find the right translation vendor, you need to be familiar with the options that the industry offers. We can summarize the various options into three groups:

  1. Freelance Translators
  2. Small and Medium-sized Language Service Providers
  3. Big Language Service Providers

Each of these options has positives and negatives depending on what your company needs and is looking for. So, there is no one size fits all solution. There are many aspects that need to be considered prior to making a decision, especially when it comes to working with a translation partner for the long run. In such cases, factors like commitment, shared values, added value are also playing a significant role in the selection. Still, even if you need a translator only for a small project or a single document, it is good to know the options. You can look at the most popular pros and cons of each vendor and make your decision.

Freelance Translators

Often considered the cheapest translation option on the market. Freelance translators work for themselves, usually from home and therefore their costs are lower (as they don’t pay rent, salaries, paid leaves and the like) and can offer a more competitive price. Price differs in different countries, so if you find the right translator for your project, you can get a quality job done at a really competitive price simply because of the location of the translator. Beware of prices that are too low though, as translation is a highly professional service and anyone offering to do it with almost no repayment is most likely using free machine translation or has no experience in actual translation. Note that knowledge of two or more languages does not make someone a professional translator. Another plus of a freelance translator is that they are usually specialized in a given field. You can find someone with great knowledge of your industry who can deal with specific tasks such as website localization, software localization, technical or clinical translation. Such people usually have a second education in addition to their linguistic training and can be helpful with issues concerning rules, patterns, or other requirements of the country you are targeting.

One of the biggest drawbacks of a freelance translator is that they usually work with one or two foreign languages so if you need your content translated into several languages, you will have to look for other translators. That may affect the coherence and overall quality of a job. Beware, as well, that it may be more difficult to get any compensation from a freelancer in case you are not satisfied with the job. Another negative is there is no guarantee that the same freelancer will be available next time you need them for a translation, which can be bad for consistency.

Small and Medium-Sized Language Service Providers

Often the best possible solution as they combine the expertise of translators working with various languages and industries with personal customer service. The main advantage is that typically such LSPs offer competitive pricing with a great ratio between cost and quality. They work with a team of translators and proofreaders who deliver a completely finished translation in a timely fashion. Most often, you have a single point of contact with the LSP who keeps you informed of progress and who facilitates the entire process. You get the benefits of a personal touch combined with the professionalism of an already established business. With a small LSP you have a guarantee that your translation will be high quality and on time, than if dealing with a freelancer you choose yourself, while still enjoying the flexibility of the business relationship you keep with the vendor. Smaller LSPs also don’t take as many clients, so personal and attentive service is usually hallmark.

A disadvantage for some of the smaller LSPs, are they may not offer a full list of the services you need or may not work with all the language combinations your company needs for a project. Always interview the company to make sure your needs will be met.

Big Language Service Providers

Big LSPs may seem like the best solution for a translation project, but they may not be suitable for your company’s situation. Some advantages of a big translation company is that they work with multiple languages, employ a lot of translators with expertise in different fields, have a well-established translation management system, and offer a great range of services. It is possible to bring your content to the agency and have it translated and localized into any format your company needs – from the software that supports a certain website, to the slogan of your latest advertising campaign.

While all these aspects look tempting, they are not a guarantee of a smooth translation process or the best quality you can get for your money. In some cases, a company may charge you more simply because they are an established brand on the market and have incorporated their brand name into the price. It’s also possible that the company has too many orders and your translation project may have delays. A final con of a large LSP you must look is relationship. Are you just another number? Will you have one contact or many? Do they value all of their clients or just the million dollar one?

Note, that we do not include in-house translation as an option on this list, as we are considering only external service providers. Based on your translation needs, however, it is possible that this can also be the right solution for your business. In this case, you need to be willing to invest in buying a Translation Management System (TMS) and recruiting properly trained translators who are subject-matter experts in your field.

In a nutshell, these are the most popular options for translation along with their positive and negative aspects. As each company and respectively each translation project differ, you may also like to adopt a mixed approach to your translation and use different vendors for different projects.

What to look for in your translation partner?

When you are shopping for a translation partner you are usually looking for certain signals that indicate the right choice. We can basically divide those factors into internal and external.

Internal Factors

Internal factors relate to your own company. It is a good idea to hold a meeting about your future translation needs with all the interested parties. You can determine important points that can guide you through the choice of a translation partner. One of the most important issues to consider is the budget that you can allocate to translation. You will also need a time table of what should be translated when and what are the absolute deadlines for its’ completion. Another issue includes the target languages that you need for your translation. Are you going to translate all of your content in all of the languages of the new markets you are targeting or you will divided it into smaller projects per type of content or per location? Take some time to decide if you need any special software that will facilitate the translation process and/or whether you will use internal employees to help with translation and localization issues. It is also a good idea to appoint a person or a team, in case you are running a bigger business, who will be in charge only of translation and make sure that everything goes smoothly – from meeting the deadlines to communicating with the translation vendor.

External Factors

External factors are those that are not related to your own company but to the translation company you are going to select. You need to devote some time to investigate LSPs and look at the advantages and disadvantages. No matter whether you have selected a freelance translator, a small or big translation agency for your project, they still have to meet certain criteria: knowledge of the language/s you are targeting, a set of translation services, subject-matter expertise in your industry, communication style, proper translation tools, and pricing. You can look for customer feedback and recommendations on the Internet as they can show another side of the story. It is also possible to ask for a sample translation in order to see if the style and overall quality work for you.

Last but not least, it is recommended to meet the translation vendor, personally or via conference call, prior to entrusting them with your project and discuss all questions and issues both you and they may have.

Big benefits of working with a small LSP

It is highly possible that you are looking to hire a small LSP for your forthcoming translation process based on the information you have found about the best translation for you. Some of the benefits that you can experience while working with a small translation agency include:

  • Personal service
  • Field expertise
  • Significant experience of each translator
  • Quality service
  • Coherence of the translated content
  • Adequate translation tools
  • Honest feedback
  • Additional advice on localization if needed
  • Affordable pricing

Keep in mind that not working with the right partner can cause epic translation fails that can cost you a lot of time and effort to fix.

Here, at ICD Translation we work closely with our customers, offering immaculate service along with personal communication and options for 24/7 monitoring of the translation progress through our online management system. Our team is proof that you do not have to be big in size in order to be a big player in the translation industry.

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