Should SME choose global or regional translation agency?

What are the differences between a regional translation agency and a global translation agency? Answering this question will give you a clear solution for your choice of a translation agency which has never been an easy task for any companies, especially a small and medium enterprise who is planning to enter a new market.

In this post, we will compare a regional translation agency with a global one and help you decide which one you should corporate with.

  Regional Translation Agency Global Translation Agency
Number of languages Specialized in some regional languages such as Asian, European, Arabian, etc. (normally below 15 languages). Numerous languages worldwide (can be up to hundreds of languages).
Costs The rate that a regional translation agency offers you in most cases is lower since they often have a compact structure and work directly with in-house translators or freelancers. The costs you pay for a translation project by a global agency tend to be higher.
They are likely to outsource the job to other subcontractors (such as a regional one), making the overhead costs higher.
Quality As long as you work with a professional translation agency, regardless of their sizes, the quality is guaranteed.
Number of services  Core services (translation, editing, proofreading, DTP, or QA). Core services and additional services (AI and data-related services, technical testing, technical writing, SEO optimization, etc.)
Technical infrastructure Can work with standard CAT tools and Translation Management System (TMS). Can provide more sophisticated systems such as Content Management System (CMS).
Customer Services Can be easily adapt to your specific requirements. Normally at a high standard, but should be less adaptive.
Coordination You might have to work with a couple of agencies if you need translations for different regions. You only work with one agency since they cover numerous languages worldwide.
Capacity & Turn-around time Both types of agencies can cover large-volume projects with similar turn-around time.


What is the best choice - Regional Translation Agency or Global Translation Agency?

As you may guess from the table above, there is no right answer for all situations. The answer lies in your own demands.

If the number of languages you need translating is under 15 languages, one or two regional translation agencies can definitely cover your needs. Besides, when you only need core services such as translation, editing, and proofreading, there’s no need to work with a global translation agency since a regional one can meet these requirements while your localization costs are significantly reduced.

On the other hand, if your projects include numerous languages and additional services (SEO optimization, technical testing, etc.), it will save you time and money for the coordination process to work with a global translation agency who covers all the required languages.

For example, giant companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple are localizing their contents into over 100 languages, with a much more generous budget than average ones. Therefore, it would not efficient for them to coordinate 10 regional translation agencies at once. A top global agency should be the right choice.

However, if you are an expanding company with less than 200,000 USD annual budget to cover 15 languages, working with 2 regional agencies may save you up to 30% of the cost while coordination efforts and all other factors are almost similar.