questions to ask translation company

15 Questions to Ask a Translation Company Before Hiring Them

By Beth Worthy

Businesses often need their content translated to other languages for various reasons. For example, a law firm may need a partnership contract to be translated or companies entering new markets may need translations of their marketing content to increase their brand awareness among their new audiences.

Regardless of why you need your content translated, it pays to do your research well before selecting a translation company. Hire a translation company without doing any research, and you may end up with embarrassing translation goofs that can severely damage your brand.

Here are 15 questions you should ask before hiring a translation company.

1. What is your area of specialization?

Every industry has its own jargon, which may not mean the same thing in layman’s language. For example, industries such as medical, legal, manufacturing, and finance are filled with industry specific terminology.

Find out whether the translation company is specialized in translating the terminology used in your industry.

2. What credentials do your translators have?

Most translation companies hire contract workers to undertake their projects. This is not a deal-breaker.

However, you will want to know how the company screens and qualifies its translators. Ideally, you want a company that hires seasoned professionals, who may have been certified by various industry bodies, such as the American Translators Association.

3. Can you tell me more about the project process?

Inquire about the process that the company typically follows when handling a project. Depending on the complexity of your project, find out whether the process can be customized to your requirements.

The process should include measurable milestones that will ensure the project is on track to be completed within a reasonable time.

4. Who will be in charge of my project?

Find out who will be in charge of your project. Depending on the translation company that you hire, the project may be handled by two people or a team of professionals.

Small companies typically have a translator, who may also double as the account manager.

5. What technology do you use?

Consider the basic technology that the company has access to, especially if you will be sending a bit larger video or audio files for translation.

Large media files can consume a lot of bandwidth and take more time to be uploaded to the server. Does the company have adequate hardware and storage servers to access or host your files?

6. What data security and compliance measures do you have?

Data security is an important thing to consider when handing out your translation project. Find out what security strategies the translation company has in place to ensure compliance with your industry data security requirements such as HIPAA.

7. Can you handle projects of my scale?

Do you have a large project that needs to be completed fast? Inquire whether the company can handle projects of your scale. If you have a huge amount of content to be translated, you may want a translation company to assign multiple translators to your project.

8. What happens if I need some changes made?

After the company has started working on your project, you may want some changes done. How will this affect the project?

Inquire about the company’s policy on changing orders. In particular, find out what impact any changes will have on the order delivery date, cost, and quality.

9. How long will the project take?

Find out how long the company will take to complete the project. Most companies will ask for a sample of your translation work and ask you about the formatting and delivery requirements before quoting the turn-around-time. Generally, the more complex your project is, the longer it will take to be completed.

10. Do you follow a quality assurance process?

Inquire about the company’s quality assurance process. This is important, especially if you are looking for translated content that is ready-to-publish. Companies with strong in-house quality assurance policies are expensive but worth it.

11. Can you handle multilingual typesetting?

If the content that you need to be translated will have to be embedded in your images and graphics like the source text, find out whether the agency can handle multilingual typesetting. Ensure the company has the correct tools for the job, especially if the content has to be translated into left to right languages, such as Arabic.

12. How much will the project cost?

Ask about the cost of the project. Some companies will charge you an overall figure for the whole project, while others will charge you for every translated word.

Cost shouldn’t really be the main factor to consider when evaluating different translation companies. However, it still helps to compare quotes from different professional translation services providers.

13. Do you have a dedicated translation memory?

In some industries, particular words appear frequently and have to be used in the same manner to ensure the translation consistency. In such a case, a translation company may have to create a dedicated memory for the vocabulary.

Find out whether the company has an existing translation memory for the topics in your industry or whether it would create one for your project.

14. What are your terms and conditions?

Find out the terms and conditions of the company concerning the project. The terms should indicate your obligations as well as those of the company.

Any agreements that you make with the company should be in writing.

15. Can I see some of your references?

Finally, ask to see a few projects or case studies the company has that are related to your project. This will give you a good idea of the company’s capability to bring your project to fruition. Ideally, you want a company that has experience in handling the type of project you have.

There is more to choosing a business translation services providing company than just looking at the price. Asking the above question will increase your odds of finding the right company to hire.

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Beth Worthy
Beth Worthy is the President of GMR Transcription Services, Inc. overseeing client relations, human resources, and new business development to accomplish the company's mission and goals. The company offers affordable transcription, translation, editing, and proofreading services with a guaranteed 99% accuracy. Outside of work, Beth likes spending time with her husband and two kids.

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