Site icon Microexcel

The Number One Reason Why Corporate Translation Initiatives Fail

Tuesday Perspectives

The Number One Reason Why Corporate Translation Initiatives Fail

Published: August 14, 2018

Contributing writer: Travis Healy, Business Development Manager, Microexcel CSD Division; Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse

To expand the reach of your global content delivery initiatives, translation is of course a must.

Whether you deliver your message by localizing web content, delivering printed materials in foreign languages, or by providing subtitling and voice-over to your videos, there is one key element that is rarely considered but stands out as a separating factor between hitting and exceeding corporate content delivery initiatives…and just plugging along.

That key element is the lack of a viable and quantifiable translation strategy.

The most common approach to translation, is that a team is given the initiative to translate various content for distribution. The firm then either conducts the translation with in-house linguists, or shops around for a translation services provider. This is where the waters of effectiveness start to get a little muddy.

The translation services industry is a $40B a year enterprise…there is and continues to be a high demand for the translation of corporate content. That makes for a very competitive situation wherein translation service providers are typically driven to compete for your business on a per word translation rate basis.

Securing the lowest rates for your project is a must. Neglecting the creation of a solid translation strategy first, can be very detrimental over the long haul.

Companies that succeed at delivering content globally have a solid translation strategy in place, and they also actively monitor that strategy. Before beginning your next translation project, here are 3 of the 10 key questions a team should ask before beginning a translation project.

Basic Translation Strategy Staging

1. What are the corporate goals for executing a translation project? Is it to increase sales, communicate safety protocols, expand branding opportunities? Etc. The end goal of the translation project should be as specific as possible.

As the target focus of the translation project is defined (marketing, sales, safety, policy, etc.), you will then have a basis to ask the translation services provider a very direct and appropriate question…”The focus of my translation project is to increase sales in Mexico City. Does the linguist you are providing have direct experience in translating content related to increasing sales in the Mexico City marketplace?”

Many times, linguists are not vetted and certified to provide the direct expertise that the team is looking for…to achieve an end result. Having a price focus up front, dilutes your content delivery effectiveness. Everyone wants the cheapest rates possible…even fewer consider the total project cost for such a focus. Having the right linguist on your project is of great importance. Here is one big reason, why… and that is unearthed in the next question…

2. Once your target language and project focus have been defined, what considerations for localization do you need to be aware of?

As an example, there are multiple variations (locale) of Spanish. To name a few, there is U.S. Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Mexican Spanish and European Spanish. Correlating this information to your translation project is critically important. The word “Slacks” may be common in Spain, and the word “Pants” may be more common in the contextual delivery of U.S. Spanish. That slight difference in preference, applied to contextual translation may make or break your overall translation goal.

To optimize your translation strategy, you must ask about and consider the impact of correct contextual translation in your pre-defined target markets. This question should also be asked of your translation services provider and applied to the linguist assigned to your project. “Does the linguist on my project have contextual translation experience for delivering content in XYZ location?”

3. What visibility, communication options and analytics do you have access to during the course of your translation project?

The number one complaint that most companies have in relation to active translation projects, is related to lack of visibility. Most external translation projects are set up and conducted with little project management or oversight offered to the client. Historically, the material to be translated was sent to the translation services provider via email, with an order to translate the information from a source language to a target language. The service provider provides a delivery estimate and in turn those files are emailed from the service provider to the linguist. There may be an occasional email or phone call to you about the status of the project, but in all likelihood, it will be you who initiates that call to request the status.

Upon completion, the translation services provider sends you the translated file. With most translation service providers, your visibility is limited to submission, a mid-point communication perhaps, and then final delivery.

Companies that succeed with a translation strategy ask for and get access to the various stages of a project, typically via a Translation Management System, which is much like a project management tool, except geared toward translation projects. As you craft your translation strategy, ask the provider about project visibility, additional costs associated to that visibility (some charge, some don’t) and ask about how your personal project will be managed.

In summary, the primary key to delivering global content effectively starts with a solid translation strategy. Doing the careful preparation work up front, before beginning your project will ensure that your translation project is delivered not only at the best possible cost, but will also be contextually accurate, targeted and quantifiable in ways that will justify the investment and effort you will go through.

For the other 7 keys to an effective translation strategy, please feel free to reach out to me direct. For more on translation strategy, visit and ask for Devin Andersen.

Exit mobile version