Buying translations

8 factors that can considerably reduce what you pay for translations

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Any company that does business in more than one country will need to produce texts in multiple languages. But while the need for translations is likely to grow year on year, the budget for them will usually remain unchanged or may even be cut. That’s not a reason to switch to a cheaper provider! There are various options that can help reduce what you pay for translations and save your company money.

You get what you pay for, as they say. That applies just as much to translations at it does to anything else, but there’s usually considerable potential to optimize workflows and to save money without compromising on quality. So it’s worth taking a closer look at the individual factors – you’ll be surprised at how much you can save!

But what options do you have if you’re looking to reduce your translation costs?

Switch to machine translation

First things first: not all texts are suitable for machine translation (and when we say machine translation, we mean machine translation with professional post-editing – all documents for external use absolutely must be checked for errors by a human being!). Technical documentation is a good example of texts suitable for machine translation, provided that there isn’t too much specialist terminology and the sentences are short and simple. In cases like these, you can expect to pay around 30% less for your translations.

» More about machine translation

Use state-of-the-art translation technology

Does your in-house translation department produce the translations in the documents themselves? Or do you work with a translation agency that does the same? It’s worth rethinking what you’re doing – switching to a CAT tool with a translation memory system, for example, can save you enormous amounts of money. If you have lots of technical documentation, you’ll know that the same sentences often come up in multiple texts. In these situations, a translation memory is an invaluable money-saving tool. Each translated sentence is saved in a translation memory, so when it comes up again in the same or another document, you don’t have to pay to translate it again.

» More about translation memory systems

Buy your translations from one place

The bigger the translation memory at one translation partner, the more money you can usually save with every subsequent translation. So it’s a good idea to get as many of your translations as possible from one translation agency, rather than sending each translation project to a different agency. It’s easy to think that the cheapest quote each time is the best option, but this approach won’t pay off in the long run – sending translation projects to different agencies on an ad hoc basis means you won’t be getting the most from your translation memory, as it isn’t being “fed” consistently. And generally speaking, you’ll get better rates (think bulk discounts) if you centralize your translations.

» More about centralizing translations

Draw up suitable framework agreements

Sensible, well-thought-out framework agreements make working with a translation agency every day much clearer and simpler. Ideally, this agreement will be a document that covers all requirements and eventualities, so it’s a good idea to think things through carefully beforehand to make sure you have a clear idea in your mind of what exactly you want, need and expect. Everything should be included in the agreement, including important issues like loss or damage, errors, privacy and confidentiality obligations, right of withdrawal and cancellation conditions, review period, prices and discounts, calculation methods, flat rates, CAT grids and more.

» More about drawing up framework agreements

Make use of interfaces

Anyone who has kept track of time when copying and pasting text knows how time-consuming the process is (not to mention the errors it can cause). The hours really add up, particularly when content needs to be regularly copied from a content management system (CMS), sent to a translation agency and then copied back into the CMS – and this is time that could be used much more productively on other things. This is where intelligent interfaces can make a big difference. They enable automated and encrypted data exchange between two systems: your CMS and the agency’s system. Content can then be sent directly from the CMS to the agency, and it’s easy to integrate it back into the CMS once it has been translated. You don’t need to place a separate order with the agency each time, and this automated workflow also makes life simpler for the agency. Plus, in some scenarios you can get discounts for projects created using interfaces.

» More about interfaces

Start using an authoring system

An authoring system doesn’t just help you produce texts more efficiently – it also makes it easier to reuse content. As we explained above in “Use state-of-the-art translation technology”, this form of recycling will in turn save you money in translation, as you no longer have to pay twice for repeated sentences. And an added bonus is that the consistency of your source-language texts will improve.

Optimize your source texts

You’ll only get true value for money from your translations if your source texts are well written and suitable for translations. It’s all well and good to get creative with word and design choices, but it can be expensive and is best avoided if possible. Optimizing your texts before you get to the translation stage will help you avoid unnecessary translation costs.

» More about source text checking

Make the most of terminology management

We’ve already explained how repeated content in texts can reduce the amount you pay, and the reverse is also true: varied (i.e. inconsistent) terminology can add to your translation costs. If you haven’t defined your terminology, this issue can be widespread in technical documentation. All too often, companies use multiple terms for one and the same component.

For example:

Switch off the unit after use.

Switch off the device after use.

If these two sentences occur in a text, you’ll end up (unnecessarily) paying to get six more words translated than if you had used the same word both times. And if these sentences are translated into 25 languages, that’s another 150 words you’re paying for. Small details like these can quickly add up to big sums of money that could easily have been avoided. That’s where terminology management can make a big difference.

» More about terminology management



Not convinced? Contact us and arrange a cost check and we will figure out together how your business can save money!


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