It is not easy to buy translations from translation service providers. I’m sure there are also others who have experienced this by the hard way. Projects tend to continue over due dates. Costs rise. Back and forth communication takes a lot of time. And through all this the buyer keeps wondering why it is so hard although the task is so simple: to rewrite one piece of text in another language.

However, this is the translation buyer’s point of view. The translation provider has a different angle. Everyone who is a professional in some field knows so much that the subject becomes less simple. When the buyer understands that translating is more than just replacing words, he is taking the first step of becoming a better translation buyer.

Translation providers and buyers come from different places, and thus there are biases and presumptions. Wrong, nonexistent or incomplete information usually leads to misunderstandings and dissatisfaction. People tend to fill in the empty spots and interpret messages through their worldview. Without open communication the risk of misunderstanding increases.

Everyone can decrease this risk with their own actions. Follow at least these points to become a better translation buyer:

  • Provide enough information about the case and situation. What type of material needs to be translated? Where will the translation be used? Who is it for? Who is the customer, reader or user? These are some of the things that will make a difference.
  • Communicate your goals and needs precisely.  What is the target language? Do you look for a certain dialect or style? Is there a limit to the length of the translation? Is there any terms or words that should or shouldn’t be used? Do you want that every word (including for example product names) will be translated? In what format is the translation available?
  • Make an agreement with all the important points. What is the price? When is the delivery? What is the schedule? Is there a delay penalties or discounts? How does the process go? Who is in charge? What should the delivery include? How confidential is the project?
  • Prepare your material ready for translating. Once you and the translation provider have all the things crystal clear, your job is to prepare and deliver the material to the translator. It should be in such a format that it is easy to work with. If you pay for a translation service you can’t expect that the provider has high technical skills. If you pay for a localization service then the provider may (or may not!) be able to execute also more advanced technical stuff. Again, communication is the key to find out all this. Similarly, you can save some time and money by agreeing upon delivering also a pre-produced translation memory. If you don’t have any, you can create one with advanced translation technologies.
  • Ask if there’s anything you’d like to learn more. Asking questions is a good way to make sure you’ve got it all right. Every professional translation provider answers to your questions with pleasure. Likewise, be polite and kindly help your translation provider with all his or her questions.


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