Many options are available to fill this need. Here is a list, along with the pros and cons of each.
Using existing internal resources
With the perception that this option will eliminate translation costs, management sometimes opts to utilize internal resources already in place to perform the needed translations. This is the least likely option for success. Internal resources are already burdened with other duties, and they often lack the knowledge needed to incorporate a coherent localization and translation process. The resulting output will most likely be a late product with serious quality problems.
Hiring independent translators on a contract basis
Hiring professionals to perform the translation job is always the way to go, but it is only part of the solution. Keep in mind that releasing your product in multiple languages is not just a job of translating text. It also requires flawless project coordination, along with expert desktop publishing, engineering, and quality assurance. Contract translators often lack these capabilities.
Also, using independent contractors demands that you locate, screen, train, and oversee translators for each project. This investment of your time and resources may not be justifiable, since it is a lot of work for a short-term gain.
Hiring permanent internal translators
Hiring internal translators will preserve the company’s investment, as well as allow continuity in the style, quality, and requirements of the translated product. Often, however, translation tasks need to take place within 6-12 weeks of the release of the source product. Responding to these peaks (as well as the valleys) in demand for technical translation services requires the ability to staff up and down as product release dates dictate – creating scheduling nightmares with each project.
Outsourcing to single-language vendors
Outsourcing to single-language vendors will give you a larger pool of translators to help you deal with the peaks in translation demand around your product release date.
Using many single-language vendors will, however, require coordinating amongst them to make sure that each one has all your requirements, uses a consistent localization process, supports the same translation memory formats, and owns the needed tools and expertise to deal with your product requirements. Also, single-language vendors frequently operate overseas, making different time zones a potential issue.
Delegating to distributors and VARs (Value Added Resellers)
Distributors often hold excellent knowledge of the country they operate in. However, their task is to sell and promote the product. The staffs that run your distribution channel are sales professionals, not professional translators and localizers. Delegating to distributors can lead to the availability of a localized product at the cost of potentially losing control over quality, time-to-market and ownership.
While leveraging distributors can be a great way to test the validity of a localized product in new markets, it is often not a long term solution. Product localization should be a strategic function implemented by product development and supported by corporate management. Read Delegating localization to distributors and VARs?
Outsourcing to a multi-language vendor
Outsourcing to a multi-language localization vendor offers you several key advantages:
- Consistent translation methodology for all languages.
- Consistent quality standards for all languages.
- Consistent schedules and delivery for all languages, enabling simultaneous product roll-outs.
Additional services that a multi-language vendor offers will expedite the translation process and protect your long-term investment:
- A single point of contact for the client, minimizing internal coordination efforts.
- Professional desktop publishing, layout, engineering, QA and project management when you need them.
- Access to large pools of translators in all languages.
- Use of the latest efficiency enabling technologies.
- A knowledge base that is built and maintained for the long term.
The cost of working with the correct localization company may at first appear to be higher than those of the other options addressed above, but not when you factor in additional internal efforts and an honest account of potential opportunity costs for each scenario. Make no mistake about it: A six-month slip in product release, coupled with quality problems in a strategic geography, can severely impact the financial health of your company.
About the Author
Nabil Freij is the author of Enabling Globalization and the president, founder, and owner of GlobalVision International, Inc. (www.globalvis.com), a Software Localization and Translation specialist. He is trilingual and holds an MSEE from Brown University and an MBA from Bryant University. Freij has worked for 25 years in the hardware, software, and localization industries. He has traveled the world and lived in five countries. He is frequently published and quoted. Nabil is married and has two children. He currently resides in Palmetto, FL. Mr. Freij can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can read his blog at: http://blog.globalvis.com.