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The In-house Approach

By: Edward Vick, CEO - EVS Translations GmbH

23 February 2017

The translation industry has enjoyed consistent growth over the last decade, even during the global economic downturn of 2008. During this time, acquisitions of translation companies saw consolidation of the market and the emergence of large providers who were able to dominate smaller competitors.

This, however, did not deter a flurry of new start-ups coming into the market, perhaps because of the relative ease of starting a translation agency: the basic requirement being a coordinator to outsource work to freelance translators. Across all industries, however, the pressure to gain competitive advantage is driving the need for differentiation. Those who can deliver on this might find themselves ahead of the competition—at least for now—but how does a Translation Service Provider do this?

EVS Translations has positioned itself in the market as a provider to large international corporations with language service departments and complex multilingual assignments. For our business model, building a sizable in-house staff has proved critical in order to offer the level of expertise and reaction time demanded by these types of clients and to compete with market leaders.

It is, perhaps, more of a traditional approach in an industry which is now experiencing a surge in translations produced as a result of the latest technological innovations: machine translation or even crowd-sourced translation delivered from a fully automated system. While these software-based solutions certainly can realize huge benefits for their end-users, EVS Translations responded to a different call and has continued to grow its in-house team of translators to meet the demand for translated content that meets the expectations for externally published content.

We have seen that the in-house approach is a differentiator but also the natural product of meeting the specific type of demand EVS Translations has faced over the past 25 years. In its early days, however, it really stemmed from a desire for maximum quality control through a tight network of reliable experts working to standardised processes.

It is not a business model that will suit, or even be effective for, all types of Language Service Providers operating within the industry, but read on to find out the ways in which it has proved effective for us.

Key Internal Benefits of In-house Translation

1. Reliability - In this deadline intensive industry, reliability is key. We know our team, and many of our translators have enjoyed a long career with us. We understand our translators’ different individual areas of strength, so we can quickly asses their suitability for certain types of projects.

2. On-going professional development - Initial and ongoing training is central to the company culture at EVS Translations. We can continue to develop the linguistic skills and subject specialist knowledge of our staff, as well as provide in-house IT training for the latest industry software. 

3. Tighter communication for quality and support - Our translators have regular meetings with our in-house proofreaders to discuss any issues that arose during a translation project and feedback from the proofreader. This quality assurance process provides an opportunity for clear communication and a means of support. It ensures high standards are maintained and helps us to retain our translators who appreciate the positive working environment. It’s program of continuous support is rare, to say the least.

In-house Translation and Customer Value

1. Familiarity - But going back to differentiation and customer value, we've noted clear benefits for our clients, too. When a regular client comes to us with their latest project, it makes sense to use the translator who worked on their previous project. This ensures higher quality, since the translator most familiar with a client’s work completes the project.

2. Better response times - It also eliminates the time needed to bring a different translator up-to-date with a client’s requirements. We can’t always predict the schedules of freelance translators, but we can organize the schedules of our in-house staff.  We already have our expert in-house translator teams in place and their schedules can be coordinated to meet the requirements of our regular clients. Our in-house translator teams allow us to react quickly, work consistently across projects and meet tighter deadlines.

3. Agile workflows for a reliable and quality outcome - For a large project with a short turnaround time, once again, good communication is a key factor in ensuring a successful outcome. When the translator is in close and direct communication with project managers, IT staff, and proof readers, work suddenly becomes a lot easier and it results in higher quality and reliable deadlines for the client.

Potential Challenges

Inevitably, however, there are challenges. Investing in an in-house team creates a pressure to fill capacity. If orders are quiet, you are still paying your staff, which is not true for your network of freelancers, so the Translation Service Provider has to be prepared for times like this and act accordingly. For new start-ups or smaller LSPs, the in-house approach may simply not be feasible.

Is the In-house Approach for You?

The demand for translation is huge and the industry looks set for continued growth over the coming years. Providers operating in the market, however, will need to think outside the box to survive as they are under more pressure to provide technological solutions that support demand, offer great value and source the kind of complex or large projects that require a diverse range of value-added services.

The in-house approach may be the right strategy for your business, or the answer may lie in other areas. Differentiating your business to gain competitive advantage drives us all, but success comes from knowing the market and your particular target segment within in.

Edward Vick

Edward Vick founded EVS Translations in 1991. The former one-man operation has developed into one of Europe’s largest translation companies and today has over 150 in-house employees and a network of freelance translators across the world.