Enterprises with growing localization programs often grapple with how best to staff their translation teams. Choices include a dedicated, named translation team, a flexible resource pool with a large number of translators, or a combination of the two. Most multilingual LSPs support any of these approaches, so how do you choose the right model for you?
First, a bit about the two approaches: In the dedicated team model, clients know the names and credentials of all translators, and have direct contact with these people. A dedicated team is likely not larger than 20 translators. Work can be tracked on an individual basis. On the other hand, when using a resource pool, translators are anonymous, though their qualifications are matched to the specific client needs. The resource pool can contain hundreds of linguists. Work is tracked at the project level.
A dedicated team of known translation resources can often be the best way to ensure you meet the quality and consistency goals of your translation projects. But a resource pool of translators can best flex when your localization volumes ebb and flow. So what factors should you include in your decision?
6 reasons to go with a dedicated team
- Optimal controls. Direct and daily contact with a team of known translators allows you to have high visibility to their activities, monitor quality levels per resource, and establish a close feedback loop.
- Personal relationships. A close relationship — both among themselves and with you — drives clear and frequent communication and strong collaboration.
- Retained knowledge. Very intensive and thorough training is possible; retention of knowledge is more secure across a team that isn’t going anywhere. Knowledge sharing is also more likely within a team where translators know each other.
- Best-fit selection. You can hand pick your dedicated translators, ensuring exact qualifications and “fit” for your team.
- Continuity of resources. A dedicated model ensures that resources grow in experience handling your content, which helps with consistency of translations. Also, stakeholders new to translation often have more trust in the process if the team is consistent.
- Clear accountability and escalation path. For example, the translation team lead can quickly resolve status issues if you are in direct contact with them daily.
6 reasons to choose a flexible resource pool
- Managing peaks and valleys. Most enterprises don’t have steady localization volumes. A broad team of flexible resources can handle large upswings, and they do not sit around when work is slow.
- Tighter cost management. Flexible resources often charge per word. On the other hand, dedicated translators often expect full-time work in order to remain dedicated, and they sit around when work is slow, adding unnecessary cost.
- Performance management. If there is a flexible resource pool, your vendor can quickly switch a translator if you don’t like their performance. Nearly no time is required to recruit, hire and place a translator on a job.
- Language breadth. It’s easier to find resources for different languages or areas of expertise within a large resource pool.
- Less oversight. In the flexible resource model, there is less people management or handholding — it would not be possible with such a large pool. The MLV takes care of this, interfacing directly with the translators, managing the work as well as the people. Your project managers are able to spend their time elsewhere.
- Ensured holiday and weekend coverage. There will be more “takers” for holiday and weekend hours within a large resource pool.
Making the decision
A dedicated model is the best choice if you’ve got management bandwidth to support a lot of direction to the team, if you have very specific requirements that you need to convey to a team, if you want ultimate controls over linguistic process as you begin to trust your vendor, if brand voice is crucial, or if it’s the start of a vendor relationship and your stakeholders need comfort.
Flex can be better if brand voice is not higher priority than cost or time efficiency, if your volume grows and shrinks considerably, or if your small project management group wants to offload all translation management. Enterprises often move from dedicated to flex, once the vendor relationship and process become solid. Yet, relying on either model exclusively may not work for a localization program growing in complexity, volumes and velocity.
Over time, a mix of the dedicated model and the flex-pool model is an effective answer for most of the issues described above.