There are some good reasons why you may want your employees to handle your translations. Employees understand your company and industry lingo, and they are accessible so you can ask them questions. But before you go down this route, there are some additional considerations that you need to think about.
1 - Lost productivity
It takes about the same amount of time to provide a quality translation, one that really captures the meaning of your message, as it does to write it. If your bilingual employees are spending time on translations, they have less time to dedicate to their primary, value-added responsibilities.
2 - Translator qualification
If your employee isn’t fully bilingual and educated in proper grammar and style, the quality of your translation will be compromised. One example is an employee who reviewed one of our professionally translated documents and the employee changed many of the words to others that were simply incorrect. When our native-speaking translator, who is also PhD educated, read the reviewer’s changes, he was able to explain why they were incorrect. If your employee isn't fully bilingual, you are taking the risk that they're going to make mistakes in both meaning and grammar.
3 - Cultural adaptation
The translator needs to completely understand both cultures and both languages to do a proper, culturally adapted and appropriate translation. That way, if something doesn't work, they understand why and can communicate it to you.
4 - Clarifying words with double meaning
Unless your employees are professional translators, they won’t know how or when to ask for clarification. For example, if they're reading something that could have a double meaning, they may not go back to you and ask how you want to handle it. If they simply pick the meaning they assume you want, your translated document could be sending the wrong message.
5 - Quality control
It is always important to have an extra set of eyes to proof your translations. If you've got internal employees doing the translation, who is going to review it? You would be better off having a professional translator do the actual translation and then have the employee review it to capture any company particulars or industry terminology in the material. This can be done relatively quickly, so your employee can add their best value to the process with little interruption to their core responsibilities.
6 - Version control
If your employee does your translation and they have the original document on their computer, what happens when somebody else edits it and keeps that version on their computer? It's good to have a centralized process where all final versions are captured in one place, so they are easy to access and review by the professional translator when changes are made.
7 - The specialty
Just as you would never have a technical writer write your marketing material, you really want to think through who was doing the translation. You wouldn't want to technical person doing translation of your marketing material because they may not use the correct tone or they might miss the marketing message you want to convey.
In a professional translation agency, we spend a lot of time thinking about selecting the right person to do the translation. If you're just picking a bilingual employee to do the job because they know the language, you could run into some issues.
Choosing Who Will Do Your Translation
Always consider the ROI before choosing your translator. Here are a few factors that will help you make an informed decision:
- How critical are the materials to your net earnings? If the translated content is for marketing purposes, or if it's something that can affect your brand, it’s best to hire a professional translator who understands what you need and how to deliver the best, most cost-effective results.
- Potential liabilities. Any legal documents, such as contracts, agreements, or release materials may cause potential liability and end up in a legal case. Translators who are experts in the legal field can help you address any issues such as deciding on which language is more likely to triumph if there is a question about the translation.
- The value of accuracy. Professionally trained translators can ensure you get correct punctuation, grammar and word choice so your brand is always reflected well in the marketplace. If 100% accuracy is important, you will want to get the most competent translator to do the work.
- Accountability over version control. Version control is hard to manage when you just have anyone do your translations. If you have edits to your materials, it will not be as simple as making the changes and redoing the translation. Multiple versions from different sources makes the process more challenging and time consuming.
- The translation ROI. Today, more companies are recognizing translations for their ROI instead their cost. The shift comes down to the analytics. Now companies can measure activity on their website and see whether people are consuming their translated materials. Companies are also seeing the research that confirms viewers’ preference to consuming information that is delivered in their native language. Many are even willing to pay more for goods and services provided in their primary language.
These are just a few tips to consider before deciding on your translation services. Learn more about creating a plan for translation.
See how Rotary International optimized their global communications by moving away from employees doing their translations.
Read about managing a global workforce in our blog: The Language of Global Business – Managing a Multilingual Workforce.
Rapport International specializes in multilingual communications, providing language translation and interpretation services that are accurate and culturally appropriate. We use the right voice, correct terminology to avoid liability, customize services to your needs, and deliver on time and within your budget. And with our 100% satisfaction guarantee, you can trust that it’s done right. Contact us today if you would like more information or to get a free quote.
Image credit: Career Employer (https://careeremployer.com/)