For a business serving multiple target-language markets, it can seem like an endless debate. To outsource, or not to outsource? If you’re expanding into a new market, it’s one of the first decisions you have to make – after all, it will define your approach to the entire localisation process. But even if you already have a defined process in place for translation, somehow the question keeps coming back up. If you currently employ translators in-house, it can be tempting to restructure your approach for the sake of streamlining. If you currently use an external provider, you may well find yourself entertaining the notion of opening an internal translation division.
If you’re getting tired of the constant back-and-forth, we have good news for you: there is a clear and simple answer to the question. In fact, there are strong reasons for every business to outsource its translation work – whether it involves large volumes or small, one language or dozens. Allow us to break it down for you and explain how your business can benefit from this approach.
First, let’s compare the two potential workflows side by side. If your business employs in-house translators, the translation process might look something like this:
- Your marketing team (or some other department) produces a new document for translation
- The document is sent directly to an in-house translator, who converts the document into its target language
- The document is sent back to the original department for publication
In contrast, outsourcing to a translation agency might look like this:
- The marketing team produces a document
- The document is sent to the translation agency
- The agency selects a translator from its database and sends them the document
- The translator converts the document and sends it back to the agency
- The agency carries out proofreading, editing, and other quality control tasks as well as DTP if needed
- The document is sent back to the client for publication
At first glance, one of those workflows looks a bit more straightforward than the other. In the strictest sense, that’s true, but don’t be fooled – it’s a false economy. What you gain in efficiency right away, you’ll lose through complications down the line.
The reason why is simple: if you only work with in-house translators, then the pool of experts available to you is going to be very limited. That’s assuming you’re able to select the right experts in the first place. Hiring experts from abroad is never a straightforward task – and make no mistake, they may well need to come from another country. Since you will need people who are native speakers of the target language, a language that is presumably not local to your company, finding translators who are currently nearby you could be a real struggle. On top of that, you then also need to invest significant time and effort vetting candidates in a field which has very little to do with your core business. What skills and qualifications are most relevant? How can the quality of these applicants’ translations be assessed if you don’t speak the target language yourselves?
Certainly, the hiring process will eventually be over. But at the end of it, you will still only have a fixed number of translators to work with. They’ll be able to translate documents into their specific target languages, as long as the subject matter falls under these individuals’ areas of expertise. Any translation job outside these narrow restrictions, however, is likely to suffer in terms of quality and readability.
At the same time, you had also better hope that you’re constantly producing exactly enough translation work to keep all of your translators busy. In the future, if your translation workload grows even a little bit, you’ll have to go through the hiring process all over again. If it shrinks, you’ll be paying your translators to sit idly at their desks. It’s hardly an ideal situation.
Compare this with the experience of working with an external translation provider. A translation agency takes care of the recruitment and vetting process for you – with a few added bonuses. First, this means that – as far as you’re concerned – the translation process can operate like a “black-box” system. Documents go in, translations come out, and you don’t need to worry about what goes on in between because the experts are taking care of it for you. So as far as you’re concerned, the translation process is actually simpler this way!
The second benefit is flexibility. Because a translation agency will tend to work primarily with freelance translators, they offer immense potential for growth but can also handle very small volumes of work. A typical translation agency can have hundreds or even thousands of translators on its books, offering experts in any number of languages and specialist subjects. The agency takes care of vetting their skills and contracting them for each individual job, allowing you to reap the benefits of expertise on tap whenever you need it. Translating something outside of your normal field? Not a problem – just engage a translator who handles this kind of content every day. Expanding into a new target market? You don’t even have to think about the linguistic side of things; adding an extra language is the easiest thing in the world for an external provider.
The third benefit is the immense breadth of expertise that a translation agency can call upon. For any given job, the translator who works on it will be an expert in this one project’s specific field. Don’t underestimate the value of subject-specific expertise: a professional translation provider knows how to handle every aspect of a translation job, both in terms of the translation itself and all the associated project management work.
Finally, there are the additional services that a translation agency can provide. Having all those names on call at any time means your translation partner can also find all kinds of other experts: proofreaders to check and correct work, subject-matter specialists to examine terminology and confirm that a text is factually accurate, and even other specialists like subtitlers, copywriters, layout designers, IT engineers and web developers – so no matter what kind of content you produce, they’ll be able to keep up with you.
All of this goes to show that the greatest overall benefit of outsourcing translation is convenience. Yes, you could handle it yourself – but why bother? As we’ve seen, an in-house translation department can be a cumbersome, overcomplicated distraction. It’s rarely a cost-effective strategy. By contrast, outsourcing the process means that a competent, experienced provider can take responsibility for everything, growing alongside you and leaving you free to concentrate on your core business. If you’re looking for efficiency and adaptability, it really is a no-brainer.