If you are a global company, it’s entirely possible that you are using any number of localization service providers—sometimes without even realizing it. Depending on what needs localizing, you could have several business functions across multiple territories all with their own suppliers, with jobs done on an ad hoc basis and no coordination in terms of procurement, costs or processes.
Apart from being incredibly inefficient, this also runs a real risk of variability in the quality and accuracy of the content you rely on as part of your business. With all these disparate, far-flung vendors, it is virtually impossible to ensure any type of linguistic consistency, streamline processes or technology or grasp the company’s overall spend on localization services.
Localization companies or an in-house team?
What are your other options? Well, instead of outsourcing to localization companies, you might be tempted to keep the translations in-house. This can be done by either assigning translation tasks as additional work to employees who speak the necessary languages or by setting up a dedicated translation team.
Realistically, giving localization work to existing employees will only be effective if it is small and simple enough to be done without impacting their day-to-day jobs. You should also bear in mind that you will be asking for professional translations from people who aren’t professional translators.
If you get the right recruitment, training and management structures in place, an in-house translation team can solve some of the aforementioned problems, but that is a big if. The risk that comes with an in-house team is its large fixed cost and inherent inflexibility. If your localization needs are seasonal or fluctuate throughout the year, you can end up spending a lot of money on people twiddling their thumbs or having to outsource work during times of high volumes, putting you right back in the multi-vendor scenario.
Why one localization company makes more sense
So, if in-house and multi-vendor models have pitfalls, then what is your best option? The truth is that outsourcing to a single, global localization company actually makes far more sense than any of the options listed above, and there are six very simple reasons why.
You need good value for money
Naturally, cost is always a major factor when it comes to choosing a localization service. By consolidating to a single localization supplier, you are in a better position to negotiate discounts on the increased volume. And, as your localization program grows, so does the value you can achieve, because a single vendor can deliver process efficiencies over time that will positively impact your bottom line. Finally, you will always have both control and visibility of costs and benefits. (This said, make sure you don’t buy on price alone.)
You can’t compromise on the job or deadline
When your work is farmed out to a fragmented group of small suppliers, it is often because they specialize in a particular set of languages or subject areas. The same is true for in-house teams. Problems can arise when you need something done that is bigger, more urgent or in a language or specialism that they just can’t handle. With a single, global localization service provider, this ceases to be an issue. Need a culturally appropriate Simplified Chinese legal translation by tomorrow and 100,000 pages of training material localized into Brazilian Portuguese by Friday? One phone call will do.
You value your brand
The credibility of your brand is at the mercy of the quality of your translations. The more fragmented your approach, the greater the likelihood that mistakes or deviations begin to creep in, with unacceptable variation in things like your tone of voice. Without that central control, it’s not always easy to find and fix quality issues before they cost your organization both your reputation and budget. What’s more, a central localization service offers shared language assets (glossaries, translation memories and style guides) to ensure better consistency and quality assurance.
A translation memory database links source phrases or segments with their translations, allowing for cheaper, faster and more consistent translations in the future. A single localized style guide preserves your brand identity through predefined rules for everything from date and time formats to tone of voice, acronyms and key terminology. Finally, working with just one localization service provider also means a single glossary of synonyms, antonyms, product names and their translations.
You want to avoid tech headaches
While asset-sharing is possible in a multi-vendor environment, it’s not without its risks. First, you have to trust that each localization company is following the same process when it comes to keeping glossaries and translation memories updated and shared. If not, version control issues can run rampant. Next, different technologies used by the various localization service providers and their linguists can mean restricted access to content, incompatible file formats or extra time spent converting files back and forth. Lastly, if they all use different workflows to receive and deliver your projects, that’s extra admin time for you. (See the latest on translation technology here.)
You want better control over your data
Oh GDPR. The acronym has struck fear into the hearts of every legal and HR department since its introduction in 2018. As a data controller, the consequences for breaches have become severe, and in trying to manage multiple small localization suppliers, you risk losing track of exactly where your confidential translations have been stored. Some of the benefits of a global localization supplier include far tighter control over data security, including secure, cloud-hosted platforms where work is stored, and regular audits of linguists’ security protocols.
You prefer to keep localization simple
One localization service provider means one point of contact. You send them all the work and its deadlines, and they are accountable for ensuring its completion. That’s it. You can have one weekly meeting to go over status and issues and then get right back to the tasks that should be taking up your time. It’s less admin and less time spent on managing multiple relationships. This also means only having to familiarize your organization with a single system of technology and processes, ensuring a much closer level of collaboration with your supplier. This can contribute to better time-to-market planning and predictability—things that can make a real difference when it comes to proving the value of your localization program.
The truth is that companies with relatively small localization needs may not feel this approach is right for them. But for any organization with a large or growing localization program, a single, centralized provider makes the best use of your time, money and resources. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to explore your options for outsourcing localization.