How to Reduce the Time and Cost of Translation

You have a pile of KPIs tied to speed to market and budget efficiency. It’s easy to think your translation partner’s KPIs are just the opposite. Of course, you know that’s not true, but you can’t help feeling that way.

“Everybody wants to save money on translation, but you can’t just use Google translate,” warns global marketing expert Faith Brewitt, founder and CEO of Beijing-based Have Faith In Your Brand. “Don’t do it if you’re not going to take it seriously. If you really want your marketing to have an impact, you have to invest.”

That investment doesn’t have be solely monetary. Yes, you want to buy the best translation services you can afford. But it’s also important to put some energy into the way you plan, prepare and process translation projects. The return on this investment is high.

The American Translators Association has published some ways to reduce the time and cost of document translation. Here’s our take on the ATA list:

ATA says: Take the burden off the words

Emphasize visuals like diagrams, illustrations, maps and data visualizations that rely primarily on images, not words. Strong, localized graphics keep word counts to a minimum, which translates into lower cost and faster cycle times.

ATA says: Think international from the start

Avoid linguistic short cuts like metaphors, similes, idioms and clichés, which are efficient in their native languages, but can fall flat in foreign markets. “Loss of meaning…is the second-worst possible outcome,” says UX expert Jeff Gothelf, principal at Neo Innovation in New York. “The worst would be offending a population inadvertently and subsequently hurting your brand.” Skip these high-stakes terms and take the time to prepare them to be translated universally.

ATA says: Define purpose and audience

Knowing who the content is for and what results you want it to create are valuable insights for translators. This information helps them focus on how best to convey the information so it’s on target, and reduces unnecessary questions and cycles.

ATA says: Decide what really needs to be translated

Not every word of every piece of marketing content requires translation. For instance, some regulatory or legal content many not apply in foreign countries. Or perhaps you can use a summary translation instead of translating the entire document. “At least translate your website,” Brewitt says. “That’s your first impression.” A more judicious and strategic approach to translation saves time and money. 

ATA says: Finalize your text before starting the translation

You know how time-consuming and frustrating it is to edit a document that’s not finished (you just have to start over), or to get last-minute changes after you’re most of the way done. Your translation partner feels the same way. The practice not only breeds ill will, but it adds time and cost to the budget. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, complete all creation and approval before submitting for translation.

Another important way to increase speed without increasing cost is to standardize the hand-off procedure. Creating easy-to-follow guidelines that everyone in your department uses to transfer projects to your translation website partner. Many providers offer online portals to help clients standardize hand-offs, monitor project status, and get an enterprise-wide view of translation work in progress.

Use these tips to reduce the time and cost of translation as well as increase speed to market. For those in need of immediacy, consider our real time translation services.