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Ordering professional translation

Before I order a translation (2), what should I ask… the translation agency?

When key company documents or materials that could affect corporate image are at stake, it is essential to choose the best translation service provider.  There are numerous translation agencies operating in the market. They include both large global organisations, medium-sized agencies, usually operating mainly in Poland, as well as small translation offices, sometimes called ‘boutique’ agencies.

How do we choose the best agency for us? What questions should we ask our potential providers? Here is a list of crucial questions to ask a translation agency.

Question 1: What experience does it have in my industry? Experience is a combination of years of practice and millions, or even hundreds of millions of translated words. Translation memories and term bases are all the better the more pages translated in a given industry. Experience also means a network of regular collaborators: translators, editors and proof-readers who are top class specialists and keep track of trends, innovations and the language of scientific studies.

Question 2: Can I confirm the credibility of a service provider? If so, how? The credibility of each service provider can be measured by the number of satisfied customers. Check the names of companies from your industry; ask about thematically similar projects. Ask for a copy of customer references. You can also ask for contact with people who can tell you more about their experience with a particular provider.

Question 3: What are the standards of service? Does the company have a team of experienced and reliable employees? Are people listed with their full names? Will it appoint a dedicated account manager so that you can approach him/her not only with translation needs, but also with doubts or comments? Does the company have appropriate processes to efficiently manage translation projects and react in crisis situations? Does it have a customer portal which enables you to monitor orders and check settlements? Will it quickly respond to an unusual situation? How quickly?

Question 4: Is the service provider flexible and will it try to adapt to my needs? If you represent a large corporation with a complex structure where translations are ordered by several people, check if the translation agency has a process in place to enable effective cooperation. It is not your job to change procedures. The translation agency has to adapt its logistic solutions to your company. A good agency can work in different commissioning modes: it may accept orders only from an authorised representative of a customer, from a shortlist of employees or from every member of the company’s staff. It has an efficient system for accepting quotes, orders and settlements. It also has secure and convenient file sharing solutions.

Question 5: Can I count on efficient service if I have any comments/complaints? It is only those who do nothing that make no mistakes. What matters here is how a translation agency will respond to your comments and apply solutions. Does it have a system that ensures following customers’ instructions and comments in future projects? How long after completion of an order are you entitled to make a complaint?

Question 6: Will the service provider protect my data adequately? Your documents may sometimes contain data which are confidential and crucial for the functioning of your company and its public image. When you transfer data to a third party, you have to be sure that they will not be destroyed or made available to other entities. Check if the employees and vendors have signed non-disclosure agreements. You may require your provider to have an information security management system in place.

Question 7: What benefits can I expect from a particular provider? Ask the provider why you should choose their offer. What are the benefits of working with this particular provider?  Will it fully cater for all your translation needs so that you can focus on your business? Will it give you peace of mind?

Choosing a translation service provider is often a decision made for several months or even years. Time devoted to setting up work with the company, the preparation of terminology and adjustment of processes is expected to pay off in subsequent years. Therefore, it is advisable to prepare well and choose a company which will make you feel safe even in crisis situations, which occur in every business.


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