Note: A TSP or Translations Services Provider is a company that provides a range of Translation Services. We (Foreign Translations) are a TSP that has been in business since 1998.
The vast majority of businesses do not have a translations services department in-house. They rely on a 3rd-party company (like FT) to meet their translation services needs. Considering this, we have created this checklist to help businesses in selecting a provider.
- Who are we dealing with?
Who is the company – both Management and Linguists? Most times, you will go to a company’s web site to learn more about them. A major red flag to watch for is a company that seems to be run by ghosts – there is very little “about us” on the site, no names or photos are given, perhaps just a number or email to reference. Reputable TSPs will be proud to list their team – at least their management team on their site. Are the Linguists native speakers of the target language(s) you will need? Finally, how long has the company been in business (longevity)?
- Professionalism — granted, you may not be able to fully analyze the level of professionalism until you have done one or more projects with the company, but you CAN examine some clues for this. Professionalism shows in other formats, such as the company’s website, their method and manner of correspondence (emails etc.) and other written literature. Do not be afraid to ask the company for some other literature (that is NOT on their website) to learn more about them.
- Quality — again, you may not be able to fully analyze the level of quality until you have done project(s) with the company, but again, you CAN glean some clues. Check out the company’s testimonials page, their ratings on Google or other applicable sites. You can always request a couple of references as well – clients of the company that you can reach out to and ask a few questions. Also, this may be obvious, but quality includes accuracy – you want work that is accurately translated for your target audiences.
- Experience in your market sector(s) — should be obvious, but if you are in the Medical field for example, you should not hire a firm that has little or no experience in that field (and the target languages you are seeking).
- Range of Services — you want a company that does much more than translate a PDF. Look at the company’s list of services and make sure they handle translation of all types of documents, can handle all types of files, do design/assembly (DTP) work etc. If you envision needing voice-over, multimedia or other type of work, see if the company does all of this. It is much better to have one company handle all your materials – this will help with consistency and cost savings, as there will be discounts due to reuse and repetition.
- Speed & Efficiency — Ensure that the company can deliver within your timelines, without cutting corners. The best way to gauge this is by asking about turnaround times, and interviewing 1 or 2 existing clients (see “3. Quality” above).
- Flexibility — the company should be able to adapt and flex with your needs. Beware of companies that are not willing to encompass change, especially on larger projects. We all know business moves at a rapid speed, and changes are inevitable. Partner with a company who can accommodate this.
- Tech Savvy — you don’t have to know about the latest technologies of the translations industry but ask about what tools and technologies they use. You want a company who is up to date on the latest trends and can leverage cost-saving technologies in the areas of project management, file analysis and so on.
- Privacy & NDAs — a reputable TSP should have no problems signing an NDA with you, ensuring your content and data privacy and be willing to safeguard your data. This should be a basic expectation from a TSP.
- Cost — of course this is very important to everyone, BUT, it is last on this list for a reason. If you are a professional business who cares about the quality and accuracy of your translated materials, you should focus on the above 9 factors first. This is not to say all great TSPs are expensive, in fact, you will usually find that most are very cost-competitive with the “lesser” firms, due to cost savings they can pass along from efficiencies, technology and internal money-saving world-class processes.
References and Related:
- FT Blog article: What is a Quality Translation
- FT Blog article: Translation Standards
- FT Services web page
- FT Team web page
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Foreign Translations is a professional translation services company serving clients nationwide since 1998. We specialize in language solutions in the fields of document translation, localization services, desktop publishing and much more! Using advanced software and top-notch human linguistic experts around the world, we enable clients to affordably reach target audiences in the languages and channels necessary for their success!
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