By Rebecca Canan
This is the first in a two-part series about corporate translation services. This post will outline the primary options for translation services. The second post will offer insight into how communicators are assessing translation vendors to ensure a good fit with company needs.
Hello, ciao, guten tag, hola, 你好, olá, bonjour, こんにちは.
If you’re a communicator working at a company with stakeholders who don’t all speak the same language (read: almost all companies), translation can be a real headache. An expensive, time-consuming headache. On one hand, you want your messages to be accessible to employees in other countries, to customers in other markets, and to various stakeholders who come across your content when they’re surfing the web. That said, you likely also face the following challenges:
- You worry about the quality of translated material. You need translators who possess both professional linguistic skills and an understanding of your company’s terminology and tone.
- Translation services get really expensive. It’s hard to determine what’s most cost-effective for your translation needs. In-house translators? External agencies? Technology? Free-lancers???
- The turnaround time for translated messages takes too long. The timing of messages is important, especially with financial announcements or during times of crisis. Many communicators, especially those that rely on volunteer employees for translated messages, report slow/unreliable turnaround time.
- You’re not sure what material needs to be translated. You can’t possibly translate everything, but you want to be sensitive to those who don’t speak your company’s native language. What about the newest training material? The CEO’s recent blog post?
In response to these challenges, we’ve seen companies taking a few different approaches to translation:
Based on conversations with CEC members, it seems that most use a combination of agencies and employee “volunteers” to help translate content. I recently heard one member saying that she wants to introduce an “open translation project,” which will be supported by wiki platform where employee translators could share projects and collaborate on the more day-to-day translations (e.g., stores posted on the intranet home page, video casts, etc.).
What about you? What have you tried? What’s worked and what hasn’t worked? Please share!
Related CEC Resources: