Just Enough Cooks in the Kitchen: The Benefits of Centralizing Translation
By: Elżbieta Pętlicka (Account Manager) - Venga Global
24 October 2017
Creating good translations is a collaborative effort. But sometimes, translation networks in large businesses or multiple departments can get too large for their own good, leading to confusion, unnecessary expense, and worst of all, errors in the finished product.
Centralizing translation work, or strategically centralizing some parts of the process, can save you time and your clients money, while reducing redundancy and errors. When client companies have a lot of translation or localization to complete across multiple departments or offices, centralization can enable them to streamline the work and do it faster.
Let’s take a look at a couple of common scenarios where centralization could help companies deliver a better product.
Before: The local offices of a small or medium-sized company request their translations from local vendors. Upper management is not involved with the process, so a single marketing manager delegates translation work to local offices, who then make their own decisions. Working with multiple translation vendors means each department has multiple contacts, and this often results in delays in communication up and down the chain.
In this case, centralization would work best for departments that want to centralize translation of their assets or newcomers to the translation business that could use some advice or guidance from a mature localization provider.
After: The client company designates one contact person at a translation company for all translation work (usually a project manager). By centralizing, they add a partner who answers directly to them, coordinates localization and linguists, and should help coordinate with local branch offices. Now, the project manager manages all communications between the company’s headquarters and its regional offices and streamlines all the workflow and standards. All the translation memories (TM), glossaries, and style guides are stored in one place, so every local office and linguist can access them.
Everyone from the regional offices to headquarters can see the same material and update it in real-time. So if a linguist identifies an error or changes terminology in one document, it’s applied to all documents at the same time. The client doesn’t have to get in touch with linguists or providers for each language separately because the translation partner will take care of managing the updates for all files and all languages.
For this type of client company, centralizing doesn’t mean getting rid of existing relationships with linguists. If they have favorite linguists, they can be easily included in the new workflow.
So by centralizing their translation through a single vendor, this company has saved time, administrative hassle, and money, all while increasing brand consistency. Ordering translations in bulk from a single vendor means they can be offered volume prices and spend less time managing projects.
Here are a few situations from our experience that could have been improved by centralization. One of our clients learned that a local department had a very close relationship with a local language service provider. That wasn’t a problem until we learned that the provider was rewriting some of the content and producing new collateral that were quite different from the approved English ones without notifying the marketing manager. Without the proper restraints in place, the message that the marketing team at headquarters worked so hard to develop was lost.
Switching to a streamlined, centralized system can pose some challenges at first.
Local teams might feel like they are losing authority and give you some pushback, so it’s important to handle these transitions with empathy and transparency.
As a localization partners (and not only vendors), we should first set up a call with local teams to introduce ourselves, break the ice, and see where we can be helpful. When we get to work, we try to match our linguists to the content carefully and provide linguists with all the reference material, glossaries, and archived translations we can get our hands on. With the proper preparation and integration, centralization can be a huge asset.
Before: Each department in a large company has their own translation vendor. The company decides to centralize by selecting one vendor for all departments. In larger companies, it can sometimes be wise to create another internal department just to manage translation.
When they centralize, this company has a couple of options: they can pair up with an existing vendor or a selection of vendors, perhaps ones they have good working relationships with. If the company does enough translation, it can sometimes be smarter to create an in-house translation/localization department, like Google or Apple has done, so that they have dedicated people within their company who will manage the localization process and communicate with translation providers.
After: The company designates a translation project manager (or a few managers, depending on the size) to coordinate between executives, departmental managers, and regional offices. The process works much like the centralization process above, except now the project managers can help a company develop a strategy that sees the big picture and can break down a vision for particular departments.
Here, centralization provides the ability to share resources, translation memory, and vendors among departments. Doing so builds a consistent brand and establishes consistent processes across the company.
Since a company is buying localization for several departments, rather than one, they save time and money, and can have more control over their budgets. The localization partner takes care of all the governance and reporting issues, reducing the opportunity for errors and yet again saving the company money and time.
Know what is right for your client
In both scenarios above, the role of a translation or localization partner is to enable clients to do their job in the most efficient way, and to advise with best practices for the whole company. No situation is exactly the same, but if you utilize your knowledge of centralization strategy, you can help your clients mature in their translation and localization efforts.