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    Language Service Provider Quality

    4 reasons why translation references cannot represent the quality of a language service provider


    If you’re a company looking to outsource your translation projects to a language service provider, chances are you’re looking for quality recommendations from acquaintances or searching online. But such a search can be hefty. According to Statista Research Department, the global language services market has doubled in size over the past decade. The market is also forecasted to reach somewhere between 47.5 and 48.4 billion U.S. dollars into 2022. The number of options out there can be very confusing for first-time users. In particular, when you can’t tell the quality of a language service provider at first sight.


    We are one of those language service providers who you will come across in your search. And we understand the concerns you have. Most companies assess their options based on language and technical capabilities, testimonials, and support availability. And of course, price. Yet, the quality of a language service provider remains hard to measure. As a result, companies request translator CVs and translation references. Though it appears logical, viewing translation references is not the way to assess the quality of a language service provider.


    Why aren’t translation references the best way to assess quality?


    Many companies believe that translation is a simple task. They believe translations only have one goal – to create understandable words. Instead, translations can serve multiple purposes. Translated work can target different niches, and fulfill specific business needs. Translations often involves more than working on a source file. Here is why we are against using reference samples to assess the quality of a language service provider:


    1) Companies even in the same sector are rarely doing the same thing


    Translated work references for clients from the same industry can be very different. The outcome is not solely dependent on the language service provider’s capability. The client’s source documents and their position in niche segments has a part to play as well. Their product, price, promotion, place, and people (what we call the 5 P’s of marketing) can completely change a piece of translation. Therefore, translation references will be different from what your company wants to portray.


    2) Clients works fit their specific needs, which are different from yours


    Translation is a process between the language service provider and the client. It takes time to develop such a relationship. The language service provider has to maneuver between strict brand guidelines and corporate style. At the same time, keep terminology consistent across all communications. Also, they must understand how literal versus adaptive the translation needs to be. As a result, final copies are tailored to the client’s subjective preference and feedback. So, translated work references are unlikely to fit your preference.


    3) Many translations are from incomplete, work-in-progress source files


    Language service providers often translate bits of a sentence or a paragraph. A case in point would be the update of a specific product spec within an original document. Usually, the language service provider did not write the original document. Hence, the quality of the original document is not controlled. Worst yet, it can be very low. That limits the quality of the translation. Sometimes, clients update translated works themselves, resulting in a different final version.


    4) Client confidentiality


    Language service providers may state vast amount of clients they have, but have very little reference translations to offer. That is because language service providers often need to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to protect the client’s internal processes. Therefore, this limits the types of translation references that can be provided.



    Questions you should be asking to evaluate a language service provider’s quality


    Companies must understand that each piece of translation is different. They cannot act as a representation of the abilities a language service provider can offer. Considering ourselves, we have over 1,000 linguists operating in over 80 different languages. A single CV or translated work reference simply cannot represent our scope of capabilities. Instead, we suggest companies to ask agencies for a test translation of the company’s materials. That will act as a much better evaluation of quality. However, there is even more that can be considered.


    Clients should ask the language service provider the following questions:


    • What procedures are in place to follow our style guide or glossary of terms?
    • Is there a quality procedure? What happens if we receive a translation and don’t think it matches expectations?
    • If we like a particular translator, can you dedicate them to us?
    • What is the number of translators you have for our given target languages?
    • How are translators hired, trained, and retained?
    • Can the same or similar terms be consistently translated over time?
    • What is the specific content you have translated for a particular client?


    It signals quality if the language service provider adheres to adequate answers for the questions above. Furthermore, if the language service provider can provide several translator options for the client to choose from, it indicates they can take on large volumes of work. Of course, this would be unnecessary if the project is one-off and only consists of around a thousand words.



    We believe how an agency answers all of the questions above will explain its processes with much more clarity. And at DataSource, we not only provide substantial responses to your inquiries, but we also provide a Translation Management System (TMS). The system manages our clients’ linguistic assets. It logs the entire history of each client, translator, job source, and delivery content. The system can track every translated segment and the translator who produced with the click of a button. A client’s glossary can also be loaded into their TMS account. Therefore, our translator can access, use, or change terms real-time(if deemed necessary for the context). As you can imagine, this streamlines the translation process. That is why we can guarantee efficiency, and quality as a whole. Our solution is perfect for clients looking for a structured way to tackle their translation needs.


    If you are interested, reach out to our sales team. We are delighted to answer any questions and give you actionable suggestions more effectively than any translation references can.