You have a budget for translation and localization and must now plan how to get the most out of it. After many years in the translation business, we can tell you one thing with absolute certainty: Preparation is everything. An ill-prepared rollout or translation project can result in missing translations, mixed-language screens (in the case of software localization), inconsistent terminology, and multiple review cycles. But you can avoid much of this and still make the most of your budget. We’ll walk you through those steps in this article.
Identify Your Needs
This sounds obvious, but what does it mean for translation projects? Ask yourself these questions:
- How important is multilingual marketing and communication for my company?
- Do I need documents translated where subject matter expertise is critical, e.g., legal, medical, or technical documents?
- How many languages do I need to translate into?
- How important is consistency? Do I mind if my company sounds different in different languages? And what about within one language but across multiple platforms, marketing collateral, and media?
Talk to Your Language Service Provider Early
We can’t emphasize this enough. Whether you plan to carry out most of your translation project in house with some external support or you want to outsource everything, bring your language service provider (LSP) on board as early in the process as possible to discuss your roadmap. They will add their expertise garnered over years of working with a range of clients to your specific situation.
Set Priorities According to Your Translation Budget
Which material should be translated first? Which target languages do you want to prioritize? Is it critical to translate all content into all relevant languages at this point? Ask your LSP to suggest different language combination scenarios. You might find that a specific language proves to be a more cost-effective source language for several target languages than the language in which the content was originally written. Depending on the native source language of your content, going through a “pivot” language might surprisingly be your best option.
While it’s always best to localize your content for the intended target audience, some markets are more open to reading and processing information in another language. So, not only do you have the option of putting some target languages on the back-burner, but you can choose to only localize certain types of content.
Also consider market preferences. For example, some markets prefer dubbed audio and some don’t require it. For the latter, subtitles are a very cost-effective alternative to voiceovers. That way, your intended audience has access to the information in their native language even though the audio remains in the source language. This may not be the best option for every situation, but it may suffice for tight budgets. Your LSP can advise you on that.
Streamline the Translation Process
Talk to your LSP ahead of time to find the best workflows for your needs. Some projects, for example, lend themselves well to machine translation with human oversight. Or your LSP may offer tools you haven’t heard of before. At text&form, for example, we use one of our in-house solutions, tf-connect, to connect your content authoring system with our translation management systems. This eliminates tedious manual exporting, sending, and importing content during the translation process. Can you imagine the errors you’d save by avoiding that manual process?
Your LSP can advise you on which type of translation technology would work best for your content and update cycles.
Optimize Your Files
Did you know you can prepare your content in ways that help streamline the localization process? That of course turns into time and budget savings. Here are just a few ideas:
- Send the original editable source files (xml, docx, indd, etc.) instead of PDF output.
- Flag certain elements in your XML as new content, content to be reviewed, UI elements, etc.
- For graphics with translatable text, opt for “localization-friendly” formats such as SVG or maintain vector layers that can easily be extracted and re-imported for localization purposes.
Manage Your Terminology
Managing your terminology goes above maintaining a style guide for your documents and content. It lists words that may and may not be used, sets standard terms, etc. Use this for all languages your company communicates in and include established translations. This will result not only in higher-quality content but in less ambiguity in the source. This in turn increases the efficiency of translation memory solutions and helps cut costs. At t’works, we can use our in-house solutions, or work with your terminology management solution.
Executive Summary: Don’t Fly by the Seat of Your Pants
There are many ways in which you can stretch your translation budget if you go about it strategically and start early. Contact your language service provider before you place your translation orders. In many cases, they will be able to guide you or suggest technology for optimized workflows that better suit your translation budget.