In a global economy, both private companies and public sector organisations are facing the growing need to provide information in foreign languages. If your organisation needs translation services on a regular basis, it might be wise to consider concluding a long-term cooperation contract with a single translation agency. But how to choose one from the wide range of service providers? Which translation agency will be the best match for you? You’ll have to look at the factors that are most relevant to your company or institution.
What matters most to you?
Translation agencies are different, as are their areas of specialisation, their style, and quality of work. Before making up your mind, take some time to answer the following questions:
- How often will we need translation services and what volumes are we looking at?
- Will our orders be urgent?
- How much are we prepared to pay?
It is rare in life that you can get everything you want (or need). Your choice will have to be based on which of these three factors matters most to you: regularity, urgency or price.
The most effective way to start is to select several agencies which seem eligible and to send each of them a small fragment for translating. This is also a great opportunity to ask any relevant questions about the potential cooperation. The responses received, as well as the price and quality of the translated text will allow you to compare your options and choose the most suitable one. Even the smallest details such as speed of response have implications on how well the agency is organised and their ability to react quickly.
Be sure to make careful consideration of the following: is the quality of the translation high enough? Does it offer value for money? Was the deadline met? Was communication smooth, constructive and welcoming? It is not a bad idea to award points for compliance with each criterion – this will allow for objective evaluation of the agencies.
Mission Impossible: good, cheap, and fast
Surely you’ve seen it before – a diagram showing three key features: good, cheap and fast, but you can only pick two. Well, this principle applies to translation agencies as well: you will never get a well translated text cheap and quick. That’s where you need to recall which factor you prioritised at the start, and which ones you might be willing to compromise on.
No doubt, if the volumes you need translated are large, price will be an important factor when choosing a translation service provider. If price is your most important criterion, it may be worth starting with that. But it is just as important to remember that a lower price might entail a sacrifice on quality.
Search results for “translation agency prices” show that prices range quite widely. But what determines these differences in price?
Highly qualified, experienced translators will charge more, as will agencies who have their translations revised, i.e., proofread and edited. Therefore, a low price could mean either lower quality or hidden extra costs, such as additional charges for complexity or urgency.
In any case, a significantly higher or significantly lower price than the others requires further investigation to understand the reasons for this and whether it is something you are willing to accept. The reasons for a higher price can be varied, for example, a translation agency located in Riga, especially in the city centre, would be forced to pay more for renting and maintaining office space.
No matter our best attempts at planning, most translation jobs are urgent, making speed a critical factor. And again, this might mean a compromise on quality, as no rush job will be as perfect or thought-out as it could be with more time.
A translation agency that works with many vendors will always be able to get the job done faster. Also, your documents will be translated a lot faster if the material is not overly complex and specific. These and other factors must be considered when assessing the proposed timeframe.
You should also keep in mind that translating requires a lot of concentration. Even though translators are paid for work done instead of by the hour, it is only natural that they need to proper rest to be able to do their job well. They can hardly be expected to pull an all-nighter just because you need your documents early in the morning Quality of work will be affected the most.
Other criteria worth considering
If you can’t choose between two or more similar translation agencies, you may need to look at other selection criteria. In the case of long-term cooperation, these factors might prove to be important.
Does the agency offer a full service?
It is much more convenient to work with a translation agency that provides full service – translation and machine translation, editing, localisation, notarisation, interpreting and other translation-related services.
A partner which will not refuse a task on the pretext that it is not part of their standard range of services is essential for a lasting partnership. A personalised, welcoming and proactive approach may be the deciding factor in your choice of future partnership.
What about security?
The higher the sensitivity of the documents you plan on translating, the higher you should prioritise security. Does the translation agency have ISO certification? How seriously does the agency take the security of personal data processing? If necessary, can they ensure full confidentiality of the translation?
In order to properly formalise the cooperation, it is essential to conclude a contract. A contract must set out the responsibilities and obligations of both parties and the terms of the cooperation, such as the payment procedure and deadline. Avoid unnecessary restrictions, such as a minimum volume or amount of translations. It must be worded correctly, precisely and unambiguously, and the responsibilities of both parties must be balanced. In case of a dispute, the contract provides equal protection to both parties.
A translation agency – your proven assistant
The world is becoming more global, and so is business. A reliable and professional translation agency can be a great partner to navigate this world. It can help you reach new markets, improve cooperation with customers in different parts of the world and exchange information faster and better. Discover for yourself!