Important Questions To Ask Your Translation Services Provider

This article was originally published on November 3, 2015. It has been updated and expanded.

Background photo of a waterfall with text overlay, important questions to ask translation providers

When you need translation services, it’s understood that you’re placing quite a bit of faith in the translation agency you are working with, assuming that your content is being accurately translated and proofread. It’s best to view your translation agency as a business partner, as you will need to work as a team as you venture into new languages and markets.

The questions included in this blog post shouldn’t be difficult for qualified and experienced translation providers to answer, and the questions haven’t been crafted to catch anyone off-guard. Rather, these questions are intended to give trusted translation agencies the opportunity to prove their value and encourage you to invest in the services they provide.

When your company considers working with a new translation company, make sure you take the time to find the best suited company and services for your needs. Not all translation agencies function in the same manner so it’s important to take time up front to ensure you find a company that fits well with your goals and culture. Consider asking any prospective translation agency the following questions to gauge their skill and ensure the success of your translation projects.

Have You Translated Subject Matter That Is Similar To Mine?

High-quality translations are dependent on a translator with ample subject matter expertise—not every translator will be able to understand your industry’s terminology or specific processes. It’s important to know whether or not the translation company has linguists who understand specialized industry knowledge. For instance, you wouldn’t ask an HR manager to review technical documents. Basically, it’s important that you’re hiring a company with translators knowledgeable about your industry. Ask for references or a chance to review the translators resumes, since you will most likely be communicating through a project manager for most of the project.

Do You Work With Other Clients Similar To My Organization?

Ask the translation agency that you are speaking with to provide references! At the very least, ask them about clients that are similar to your organization. Although this isn’t an end all, be all, it’s still comforting to know that the provider has experience with your specific industry.

What Are The Typical Document Formats You Work With? 

An experienced translation company should have the ability to offer translations in almost all formats, including XLF files, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, HTML and others. Regardless of their capability to work within a certain format, if you want to keep your translation costs to a minimum, ensure the text in your files is accessible and editable.

What Is Your Approach To Customer Service?

Sometimes trying a company’s services is the best way to get to know if they are qualified for larger projects. Some translation providers offer a free sample, but we suggest that the best approach is to assign prospective companies a small translation project so you can understand how well their customer service works. If you end up with a negative perception of their services, you can continue your search for another translation company that can consistently meet your needs. Another option is to talk to them about how the process works. Does each client have a dedicated contact to manage their account? Does this contact vary project to project? Most companies will be open to discussion about this and you can determine how well their process may fit with the way you prefer to work.

What Does the Translation Process Look Like & How Does This Affect Cost?

Every translation agency has a slightly different approach to the translation process. Some agencies send your source files to one translator and that same translator reviews it themselves before sending the final version back. Others send the source file to one translator and then send the translated file to a second linguist for proofreading and editing. Some include an internal review by a project manager in their cost. When you are comparing different agency quotes, it’s important to understand what each includes in their price per word. Cheap costs may seem attractive but you may be getting far less service which leaves room for errors. Talk to them about what’s included so you can make an educated decision on how to move forward.

What Is Your Confidentiality Policy?

Whether or not the material you need translated is confidential, it’s best to discuss data security and confidentiality with your potential partner. Once you begin working together, you may at some point need sensitive documents translated so talk about their data network security, how documents are stored and transferred up front so you can feel at peace knowing that there is no risk. Most translation agencies will be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement or may already have a template on file, as well.

Additional Questions To Ask Throughout Your Review

  • Does the company have professional translation project managers to ensure materials are accurately translated and delivered on time?

  • Does the translation company have a reputable record of success using the languages that your materials will be translated into?

  • Will your translated material be compared with the original text for cultural context, accuracy, and tone? Will the work of the primary translator be checked and proofread by a qualified secondary translator of equal skill?

iTi | Translation Services

iTi’s dedicated and experienced teams offer a wide range of multilingual solutions for domestic and global corporations in a variety of industries. With our extensive resources, you can take advantage of communication services on a global scale, creating, managing, and distributing your content in any format. You are welcome to contact us to request a quote for your language translation project. If any of these questions to ask your translation provider have brought about more questions, feel free to contact us.


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