In Translation/Localization

The responsibility of centralizing the organization’s translation needs is now yours. Your boss heard that early in your career you took control of a small, local company’s translation spend and process, reducing costs by 30% and decreasing turnaround times by four days. Wow, you really impressed him with those great numbers! Did he happen to read their company profile?  Your previous company was on a very different scale, only translating materials from the HR department and some marketing material into Spanish. But no worries, you’re ready for the challenge!

Now here you are in a different, much larger organization, with locations nationwide and around the globe. Projects currently in the translation pipeline include the website, marketing materials, operation manuals, HR documentation, customer service support, and legal documents. And these translation projects span beyond just Spanish– you’re finding 40 different languages. Wow! You quickly worry if you’re getting in over your head. But, how hard can this really be? You can take those skills from the small company and put them in place here, no sweat. Saving 30% on spend and decreasing turnaround times by four days with this company will give you the ability to show how you can bring process and spend efficiencies on a much larger platform.

Day One: Where Do I Begin?

You are trying to get your head around translation spend, process and well, just who in the heck is doing the translation. You reach out to Accounting to get spend reports. Their response: “Oh, we don’t track that spend separately; each department just puts it into its operational cost.”  Okay, then let’s start with department processes. As you dig into the process, here is what you find:

HR process:  Betty in Accounting is from Canada and speaks French, so she is doing all the French translations. Carmen in sales is from Texas and speaks Spanish, so everyone sends their Spanish requests to her. Okay, well what about the other 38 languages?  No one seems to know what we do for those.  Since this is HR, I assume they must have an in-country reviewer to ensure we are producing quality translation. Turns out, we don’t. We just trust the team. And what about the spend?  We already pay Betty and Carmen their normal salaries, so we have no translation spend.

Marketing Process: Here, they use a local lady to translate all their Spanish materials. What is her native language? Spanish! Is she European, US based or Latin American?  The answer again: “Spanish”. The VP of Marketing doesn’t have time to provide any additional information and suggests I go to the Director for help locating past translations, invoices, budget dollars, and process (or which I assume at this point there is a lack thereof). You receive a three-inch-thick file of invoices and a USB drive with a promise of some additional files via email.

The Outcome: These are two of the main departments with translation activity, neither of which has a consistent process, a plan for quality checks, or any legacy files. No one knows what they are spending and there is no consistent brand management or tone to protect the company. This might be tougher than you originally thought.

Day two:  It Is Time to Start the process! 

You send a message to each department leader letting them know your findings in just the first two departments you explored. You highlight how the company is at high risk for injuries, miscommunication with clients, and employees not understanding benefits. Additionally, you let them know how much you value their internal employees with multilingual skills and suggest freeing up their time by removing the translation responsibilities from them. Instead, you suggest they take on the ever-important role of in-country or company-reviewer for you.

The professional translation company assures you their linguists are native, in-country, and subject matter experts. That’s good to know. Now you have a good external team to partner with while still being able to utilize the skills and knowledge your internal employees have.

Next, you get to work on streamlining the process of requesting translations. First, you ask for the names of the people in each department requesting translation, the target languages needed, and subject matter of the translation. You immediately put a stop to the mailing of confidential or proprietary company information, avoiding the possibility of mishandled information. Moving forward, the new process is to upload all files directly into a secured web-based system, giving accessibility to anyone in the company.  

Ensuring the company does not lose past work, you decide to send all legacy files to the translation company to start to build a translation memory and other linguistic assets.  Having this all centralized in one system will allow the entire company to benefit from past translations, improving process, spend, and turnaround times. 

Day Three: Let’s Get the Show on the Road

In just two days, you’ve been able to wrap your head around the next steps to formulate a real (and might you add, good) translation process. Next up is a two-day meeting with the translation vendor to train, set up, and customize a program best-fitting the needs of our company.

We all know that it is sometimes “easier” to let an employee translate a small document as your company begins communicating in another language for the first time. However, when your company goes global and the company needs become much greater, it’s time to seek help

Here at Vocalink Global, we form partnerships with companies like yours each and every day to streamline translation processes and needs. Connect with us today for more details on our language services available.

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