Once you have prepared your technical translation project, the next step is to choose a language service partner to handle the job. Price and turnaround time should not be your primary considerations. Good technical translation can take a little longer and cost more than ordinary translation, so the best price and quickest turnaround time probably means the worst translation, and, in the long run, may end up costing your company more.
Here are some things to consider before you make your final choice.
Ask your colleagues in your own company and in any networks you are hooked into about their own experience with translation services. Don’t just ask for the names of translation companies. Ask what kind of translation they had done and what languages were involved. Also, ask about what they particularly liked and disliked about their experience with the translation agency. This can give you clues as to what to ask about when you contact potential partners.
For technical translation, look for an agency that assigns professional translators with experience and educational qualifications in your company’s general field (e.g. electrical engineering, biochemistry, etc.). There are translators who hold themselves out as all around technical translators and will take on jobs in a wide variety of fields, but you want someone who’s familiar with the specialized terminology and usages of your industry.
Technical translation experience
Concern with terminology
The technical translation agency you choose should act as a language partner with your business—one who is concerned with getting the foreign-language equivalents of the specific terminology for your industry and company correct. They should ask for the kinds of things (existing glossaries, style sheets, and reference materials) that you will have gathered in preparation for the project.
Prior to starting the starting the project, they will want to prepare a bilingual (or multilingual) glossary of specialized terminology used in the documents to be translated so that these terms are used consistently throughout the project. If your company has access to its own reviewer, the agency will suggest that have the reviewer check that terminology for accuracy before the whole translation process begins.
If the translation project is for marketing materials or other types of materials where you want the content to be completely fluent and error-free, you will want to make sure that there will be an independent qualified linguist assigned to the job as proofreader. If proofreading is important for the English version of the materials, it is also important for the foreign-language versions.
Planning for Translation Reuse
If your company will or might have other similar materials translated in the future, you will want to be sure that translation agency maintains a Translation Memory. This will ensure consistency across translated materials and can save money. Repeated content is charged at a lower rate than new content. The savings can be significant in the case of documents with a lot of the same boilerplate text, such as a company description or warranty information.
Other language services needed
Finally, you should consider any related language services that you may need, such as software or app localization and foreign language desktop publishing. Using a language partner that can provide all of these services will make the whole process easier for you and more efficient in the long run. There will also be one center of accountability for all services should there be any problems; no arguing about who is responsible for an error.