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If you’re looking to order translation services, understanding how translation agencies work can be hard to get your head around. Believe it or not, understanding what goes on behind the scenes can really help when it comes to the quality of the language services you receive. That’s why we’d like to take you on a journey into the secret world of the language industry so that you know how to optimize every single aspect of your translation services and get the quality you deserve.

How the translation industry works

Let’s start right at the beginning with how the translation industry works! Rather than just being a network of freelancers, the translation industry is actually worth a whopping 46 billion USD.  It’s made up of translation agencies, freelancers, technology providers, and consultants.

Believe it or not, there are different types of translation agency, and these are MLVs, RLVs and SLVs. MLVs (multi-language vendor) are companies who handle all major world languages, just like us. We use our own network of tried and tested freelancers, but some MLVs outsource to other smaller language agencies, too. RLV stands for regional language vendor and as the name suggests, they handle their region’s languages. A good example would be a company who deals with Asian languages. Then you’ve got SLVs, who are single language vendors. These are normally small or boutique-style agencies who purely focus on their native language, e.g. only providing translations into Spanish.

In the language industry, you’ve got worldwide industry associations such as the ATA, GALA, and then more local ones, too. Translation services also have their own ISO certifications, so if you’re looking for a vendor, make sure that they stick to ISO 17100 or ISO 9001 workflows (which we’ll be looking at in a bit more detail later!).

Translation services – who to work with

Choosing who to work with when it comes to translation services is a pretty big decision. Not only are you entrusting your company documents, translators quite literally have your brand in their hands. This is why it’s really important that you choose a reputable agency.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people and even companies out there who think of translation as something every bi-lingual can do, which isn’t the case. When you work with freelancers, make sure they have professional experience, translation qualifications, they’re native speakers, and you get references. Or, if that sounds like a lot of work you can use an agency for your translation services, just like us! We do all the testing for you and make sure that the translators you’re working with a professional and represent your brand to the fullest

Translation services workflow

Next, let’s take a look into translation workflows. As a translation services buyer, there are quite a few options out there! What’ll always happen, though, is that you’ll send over your request, one of our project managers will take a look and send you over a quote. Then, it’s all up to you if you decide to go for the quote or not. 

If you decide to confirm the quote, then our PMs will choose suitable translators for you. This’ll all come down to the language combination and the type of document you’re looking to get translated. If it’s a marketing text, you’ll get a translator who’s used to creative writing, and if you’ve got something technical, they’ll have experience dealing with the type of speciality you’re dealing with.

Once the team has been chosen, the translator will get to work. Once they’ve finished they’ll send it to be proofread by a 2nd linguist to ensure it’s perfect. After that, your project manager will do final quality checks before sending it back to you. This is when DTP will also happen if you’re looking to implement graphic design to your translations.

Dealing with complex projects

If you’ve got a big project or tight deadlines, there are ways we can help you out with your translation services. We can put together teams of translators so that everything gets done a bit faster. There’s also technology (which we’re about to touch on!) that can help automate much of the translation process which helps to speed things up. So, even if you think your project sounds impossible, just let us know what’s going on and we’ll try and find a way to adapt our translation services to what you need.

Translation Services Technology

Just like any other industry, translation services have modernized in recent times and now benefit from numerous technology solutions. There are many options available, but we’re going to touch on the main ones you’ve got to choose from:

  • TMS

Standing for translation management system, a TMS is a piece of software that helps you manage your translation projects. They’re not only here to help you manage your translation budgets so you can see exactly where your money’s going, but you can also automate things like sending your projects for translation.

The main industry TMS are Plunet and XTRF, but there are also smaller/cheaper options like QuaHill and Protemos.

  • CAT tools

CAT tools stand for computer-aided translation tools. Not to be confused for the likes of Google translate, they simply help translators speed up the work they do by remembering phrases that have already been translated. That way, if you’ve got a technical document that has lots of repeated sentences, you don’t have to translate them from scratch. And most importantly you don’t have to pay for them twice!

Again, there are a number of different solutions. Some are server-based, some are software, and some are cloud solutions. The main ones are SDL Trados, MemoQ, Across, Memsource, plus there are also many more to choose from!

  • Machine Translation (MT)

Now, this is the professional Google translate! Machine translation engines are specially trained on your documentation to ensure good quality. They’re great for finding out what a text is about, but aren’t quite ready to replace human translators just yet!

If you’d like to know more about the world of translation services and how to optimize the way you do things, get in touch. We’re here to partner with you and help you out!


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