Lately, we have been hearing a lot of conversation in the translation and localization industry space about single sourcing and multi-vendor localization models. While we at Moravia comfortably work with both, we think it might be high time for some commentary about what this means for clients.
In my recent webinar, Localization Single Sourcing Explained, I discussed the various factors that will lead clients to choose between in-house localization, single sourcing, and outsourcing to multiple suppliers.
Let’s note first that we are not going to advocate for one approach over another. As in almost all other areas, determining the “best” solution to a problem is about assessing the situation itself and understanding its unique circumstances. Sometimes it makes more sense for you, as client, to have more vendors in your supply chain, for example. Sometimes it is the better choice to work with just one. I have personally worked in both models for years and have seen both models working well.
But let’s focus on just how one of these factors — security — can raise the stakes for your investment in one model over another.
How In House Works
It is unsurprising that highly sensitive, high-profile projects make security a major factor in choosing a localization model. You might find crowdsourcing a great choice for localizing Twitter, but you are unlikely to crowdsource the localization of medical device software or a medical app, for example. Unsurprising then that a client in a highly competitive or patent-driven marketplace would see the attraction of the in-house model.
The strength of this model relies on oversight and surveillance. Translators, testers, engineers and others — all are located on site, giving you as client the power to surveil them, under camera, controlling everything that is coming and going. For example, there are some programs where translators are brought in and actually sequestered in a translation workroom. Again, the benefits are derived from the control you have over everybody and everything that flows in and out of the secured space.
The disadvantages of this model, however, are part and parcel of the geographic restriction — you are limited by which resources you can get to come in house. In some cases, you will want to bring the best human resources to you from other parts of the globe, flying them internationally to your doorstep. (I’ve actually seen that happen.) This creates other issues, such as the overhead and costs of transportation, lodging, and the rest.
Where Single Sourcing Excels
Does this mean that in-house single sourcing is the only right option for the security minded? Not exactly. Let’s imagine that you are a startup or a small organization. In situations like these, for example, a localization supplier might have tighter security than you do, the result of many years of experience and practice with clients with similar needs.
This is why, in general, it is very unlikely that any single language vendor (SLV) or multi-language vendor (MLV) could ever pose a serious security risk, even for global companies. Large suppliers like Moravia especially are already well-practiced in data security and have very tight security control over both buildings and servers.
Moreover, with the right language partner, the single sourcing model can mean that your network is set up as a secure section at their site. Through high levels of transparency and collaboration, as well as strict attention to security protocols, you can enjoy all of the security benefits without suffering typical in-house infrastructure costs.
Why Using Multiple Suppliers May Be Risky
Would such an answer be possible under the outsourcing to multiple suppliers model? Absolutely. However, and this is a serious caveat, using multiple vendors naturally multiplies your risks. More overhead, more site administration, and more chances for security failure — these are not necessarily problems but they certainly are challenges worth considering in making the right choice.
I’ll be writing more about the factors that influence client choice regarding single sourcing. Do you have questions or comments? Post them in the section below.