Tips for Translation Buyers at Software Companies: How to Manage Your First Project
Are you a globalisation or global marketing manager at a software company that’s beginning to set foot in new markets? If so, you may be in need of a professional translation service to help with your company’s marketing and communication efforts in these new territories. But where do you start? What are the key things to look for when choosing a translation provider?
We know first-time translation clients are often overwhelmed by all of the things they need to take into consideration, so let’s take it step by step.
In this post:
- Devising a translation or localisation strategy
- How to establish your translation budget
- Setting up a translation workflow
- Example of a typical translation workflow
- Finding the right translation services provider
- Aspects to consider before choosing between a freelance translator and a translation company
- Automating your translation process
- CAT tools
- Translation Management Systems (TMS)
- Translation memories
- Glossary management tools
- What’s next?
Devising a translation or localisation strategy
One of the foundational things you need to do before starting your marketing translation project is to devise a translation or localisation strategy. This document will outline your company’s goals for the translated content, such as increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, or increasing product sales.
Some questions you can ask yourself to help you develop a strategy include:
- What markets are you targeting?
- What is your target audience in these markets? What is the message you want to communicate?
- Which languages do you need to translate your content into?
- What type of content needs to be translated (website, brochures, marketing materials, software UI, etc.)?
- Are you going to use translators or a translation agency?
- How does your localisation strategy fit in with your global marketing strategy and the company’s overall business goals?
It’s important to have a solid strategy in place before starting your translation project, as it will help you make better decisions that will save you time and money in the long run.
How to establish your translation budget
One of the first things you need to do when starting a translation project is to establish a budget. This will help you stay on track financially and make sure you’re not spending more than you can afford.
A vital part of budgeting is understanding the different types of translation services available and what each one costs. Some of the most common translation services are:
Localisation: Adapting texts for a specific market rather than translating them directly. This involves taking cultural and regional differences into account, local habits, preferences, and idiomatic expressions
Transcreation: A more creative service that involves reworking advertising content to make it appealing to a local market. It focuses on the intended impact of your message. In other words, transcreation goes one step further than localisation because it creates a new text from scratch that will maintain the intent, style, and tone of the original. Transcreation is often used for slogans, taglines, Google Ads, etc.
SEO translation: The process of translating website content to make it search-engine-friendly for a foreign market. This is different from regular translation in that the translator doesn’t just translate the text, but also researches suitable target-language keywords and phrases to include in the translation. You can read more about multilingual SEO and SEO translation here.
Machine-translation-post-editing: This is a newer type of translation service that uses machine translation as the starting point, followed by manual editing by a professional human translator. It’s less expensive than traditional translation services, but it’s not suitable for all types of content.
Other services: There are a number of other translation services that you may need depending on your project, such as transcription, proofreading, editing, subtitling, and desktop publishing.
Once you have a good understanding of the different types of translation services available, you can start to develop an estimate for your project. The next step will be to get quotes from translation agencies or translators to get a more accurate idea of how much the project will cost, and to decide how you’ll measure the return on your investment.
Setting up a translation workflow
Once you have your translation strategy in place, it’s time to start setting up your translation workflow. This will involve everything from deciding what departments will be involved in the process to creating translation style guides and centralising all work in one place.
The goal is to have a streamlined process that will make it easier and faster for you to get your translated content out into the world. Automation can be a big help with this.
The most important thing is to make sure all stakeholders are on the same page and that everyone understands their role in the translation project. It’s also helpful to establish clear guidelines for things like tone of voice, cultural sensitivities, and brand terminology so that there is consistency across all translations.
When creating your workflow, some things to keep in mind include:
- What format will the source files be in (Word, Excel, HTML, etc)?
- Who will be responsible for creating and sending the source files to the translation provider?
- Who will be responsible for monitoring the translation progress?
- Who will be responsible for quality control?
- What format will the translated files be in (Word, Excel, HTML, etc)?
- How will the translated files be delivered to stakeholders (via email, FTP, etc)
- How will you manage updates to your translated content?
- What tools and software do you need to help with the translation process (translation memory, glossaries, etc)?
- How will you manage deadlines and work schedules?
- Will there be any instant messaging or other communication tools used to help with coordination?
- How will you prevent bottlenecks in the process?
After you have set up your translation workflow, it’s a good idea to test it out by translating a small piece of content. This will help you iron out any kinks and make sure everything is running smoothly.
Example of a typical translation workflow
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s take a look at an example of a typical translation workflow. In this example, the source files are automatically imported from a software company’s source-code repository into a Translation Management System (more on these tools below).
- The files are imported and assigned to a project or localisation manager, who then assigns them to a translator. The translator works in a desktop application that connects to the Translation Management System, which automatically saves all translation progress and stores the translated files in the correct location.
- The project manager then quality checks the translated files and sends them to the software company’s marketing team for review. Once
- then translated by a team of professional translators, who use a translation memory tool to help with consistency. The translated files are then proofread and edited by another translator, and finally published on the company’s website.
- The source files are automatically imported from a software company’s source-code repository into a Translation Management System
Finding the right translation services provider
When it comes to finding the right translation services provider, it’s important to do your research and ask for referrals from colleagues and friends. The first thing to decide is whether you’ll hire a translation agency or use freelance translators.
Whichever you go for, you’ll want to find a provider that has experience in translating marketing materials, as they will be familiar with the style and tone needed. It’s also important to find a provider that has a good reputation for quality and customer service.
Aspects to consider before choosing between a freelance translator and a translation company
- Volume: How much text do you need translated? If you have a small project (1,000 words or less), a freelance translator might be the best option. But if you have a large project (10,000 words or more), it’s probably more cost-effective to hire a translation company. Software companies usually have recurring translation needs, so it’s important to find a provider that can provide a long-term partnership.
- Specialisation: It’s important to find a translator or translation company that specialises in your industry. A software company that sells medical devices, for example, should work with a translator or translation company that not only has experience working with software translation but also has experience translating medical content.
- Quality: What are your translation quality requirements? Do you need a human translator or will post-edited machine translation suffice? Translation agencies typically offer a higher level of quality assurance than freelance translators, but it’s hard to find one that’s highly specialised in a particular industry. In other words, they tend to be generalists. You might want to consider the workaround of working with a team of freelance translators who can work together to meet your quality requirements.
- Tasks: The translation process is complex. After translating itself, comes editing. After editing, comes proofreading. A single translator might not be able to do all of these tasks on their own (and it’s not recommended they do!). Once again, a team of translators and editors who can work together can be a great solution.
- Flexibility: Do you need someone to be available on short notice? Translation companies generally have a wider pool of translators, so they can assign one as soon as possible. Freelance translators might not always be available when you need them because they might already be in charge of other clients’ projects. However, a rotation of translators could negatively impact the quality of the translations as consistency issues could arise.
- Cost: Translation companies may be able to offer special discounts for large volumes. Plus, their rates usually include TEP (translation-editing-proofreading), so you won’t have to pay extra for those services.
Automating your translation process
One of the best ways to save time and money on your marketing translation projects is to automate as much of the process as possible.
Manual tasks like translating in spreadsheets or communicating through never-ending email chains can be extremely labour-intensive and time-consuming, and can often lead to mistakes. Automation tools can help you speed up the process, improve accuracy, and reduce costs.
There are a number of different automation tools available, such as CAT tools, translation management systems, machine translation engines, and traditional technology such as translation memories and glossary management tools.
Computer-aided translation tools are a type of software that helps translators speed up the translation process. They do this by allowing translators to segment their translations into smaller, more manageable units (usually sentences) and to view the source text and target text side-by-side. This makes it easier to spot errors and to ensure that the translations are faithful to the source text.
Most CAT tools also come with a range of features that can help improve translation quality, such as translation memories, glossaries, term bases, and machine translation engines.
Translation Management Systems (TMS)
A translation management system (TMS) is a software application that helps organisations manage their translation projects. TMSs typically allow organisations to:
- Upload and manage your source files easily
- Collaborate with translators online
- Create and manage translation memories and glossaries
- Track the progress of your project
- Perform quality assurance checks
- Integrate the tool with your existing systems, such as your content management system (CMS) or marketing automation platform
There are a number of different TMS providers to choose from, so do your research and find one that fits your needs. A key feature to look out for is whether they’ll be able to integrate with your existing systems and to provide visual context to translators, e.g. in the form of UI screenshots or design mockups.
A translation memory stores segments of text (usually sentences) in a database, along with the corresponding source and target language versions. This allows organisations to keep track of past translations, reuse translated content, and improve translation quality.
Most modern CAT-tool and TMS solutions include translation memory features, but that doesn’t mean that every linguist has to use the same tool. As a translation or localisation manager, it’s also possible to compile your own translation memory by importing TM files that your linguists send you from their CAT tools. This way, you’ll have a single repository of translated content that can be used across all your translations projects regardless of the toolset your linguists or your company are using.
Glossary management tools
A glossary is a collection of terms and their definitions, usually in one or more languages. Glossaries can be used to help improve translation quality by making sure that all translators are working with the same terminology.
Glossaries are often used to ensure translation consistency and accuracy, as well as to help translators understand specific terminology or jargon used in a particular industry or sector.
Most CAT tools and TMSs include glossary management features, but there are also standalone glossary management tools available.
If you’re new to translation buying, there’s a lot to learn. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.
Author: Maria Scheibengraf
Maria Scheibengraf is an English-to-Spanish marketing and SEO translator specialised in software (SaaS, martech, fintech), and Operations Manager at Crisol Translation Services, which she co-founded in 2016. With a solid background in programming and marketing, Maria has an in-depth understanding of the technical intricacies involved in software programs, websites, and digital platforms. Maria is also the author of The SEO Translation Bible.