More Languages, Same Budget? Seven Things You Can Do
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More Languages, Same Budget? Seven Things You Can Do

More Languages, Same Budget? Seven Things You Can Do


It’s that time of year again. You need to plan and budget for translation to support your company’s international expansion. Incidentally, you plan to launch your company in many multilingual markets, but somehow your localization budget hasn’t grown much, or at least in a way that corresponds to the number of markets being added.

Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Organizations sometimes fail to fathom the need for translation to accompany global product launches. And many times, organizations simply aren’t aware of the translation process: what it involves, how much it may cost, or how much time it may take.

Also, you may think you’re all set for translation, when suddenly your chief marketing officer tells you that the number of languages you need to add just doubled. So, even if you started out with a decent translation budget, you may have to face a resource crunch.

Here are some steps you can take to stretch your localization budget:

1. Centralize the translation function

More than one department in your company is requesting translation, most likely. Each could be following its own translation method, workflow, vendors, and tools. All these efforts need to be brought under one roof to achieve economy of scale and cost. When you centralize localization at your company and transform it into a shared service, you will be able to leverage translation memory to its fullest. Different groups are probably ordering translation for words that already have been translated, but are locked in multiple translation memories.

2. Single source

Or at least consolidate vendors. It’s the logical next step after you centralize localization. Spreading out your translation work among many vendors pushes down your bargaining power. Not only does single sourcing fit in nicely with your centralized localization program, but you also start building a deeper relationship with your vendor, which in turn can positively affect quality and reliability. However, even if you just consolidate your vendors, that’s a good start.

3. Outsource

Of course, there are companies that do translation in-house, but it’s usually a limited part of their overall requirement. Smart global companies bring their overhead down and control cost for when there is not much translation by outsourcing. You can also tap into the expertise of professionals while retaining flexibility.

4. Use technology

If you’re already using some tools, list them by consulting all translation stakeholders in the company. Understand why some groups prefer one tool over another. Next, make a choice and consolidate tools. It simply won’t do to spend many times over on different tools that may in turn affect the central availability of translation memory (TM).

If you aren’t using translation software, however, this is a good time to start considering investing in one. Tread with caution, though. While the right tools can help you do more with less, unnecessarily heavy investment in some may ultimately impede you and further stretch your budget.

5. Prioritize content

Not all content is born equal. Nor does it all need to be translated — not all at once, anyway. Identify the different content types your organization owns and select the ones that are mandatory for the market you choose to enter. The usual content types are marketing, legal, user interface, and support documentation. Prioritizing content lets you stagger translation expenditure, test the waters in a new market, and save your localization team from unnecessary burnout.

6. Use different workflows and translation methods

Depending on content types, you can choose from among human, professional translation, transcreation, machine translation, or crowdsourcing — or mix them up as it suits your company. These methods all come at a different cost. Hence, instead of transcreating all content, which could be very expensive, you can transcreate only the highly visible content, such as that used in advertising campaigns; professionally translate website content; and even use machine translation, if required, for less visible content like support documentation.

7. Prioritize languages

Finally, speak with your CMO and your translation vendor about which languages you can absolutely not do without and which can wait until the next round of localization. Try not to add the longer-tail languages too quickly, as they’re usually more expensive than the high-demand languages. Assess the local market demands — sometimes it may not be translation they seek immediately, but perhaps a more convenient payment option.

It’s possible to reach out to your most critical markets and not lose sleep at night. If you’d like to know more about how you can go about localization in a systematic and scalable way, download our ebook on this topic.