Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a translation agency? You may have if you or your organization have ever needed the services of a translation agency.
Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a translation agency? If so, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we share all the inner workings of translation agencies to remove the mystery of what happens to your text and other media during the translation process.
Table of Contents
The Role of a Translation Agency
A translation agency is a professional organization that offers translation solutions. You may also hear a translation agency referred to as a translation company.
The agency comprises professional, native-speaking translators and project managers who deal with translation projects for their clients. A translation agency may provide the following services:
- Desktop publishing (DTP)
- And other language-related services
Businesses seek out the services of a translation agency for several reasons, including:
- Expanding their companies
- Saves time
- Cost-effective solutions
- Translation services can help avoid legal problems
- Market to a global audience
- Avoid communication issues
- Increase sales and improve brand image
On the other hand, an individual may need the assistance of a translation agency for these reasons:
- Immigration to another country
- Assistance with translating important documents (medical information, marriage licenses, and more)
- Help with foreign job applications
- And more
There’s no question that a translation agency offers valuable assistance and insights when hired for a project.
The Translation Process
Many translation agencies use a three-step translation process, which includes a pre-translation phase, translation, and a post-translation phase. You can learn more about each step in the following sections.
The translation process starts with an assessment of the client’s needs. This is the pre-translation phase of a project. During this time, the translation agency determines the need for translation and other factors, including:
- Language barriers: one need for the translation is a language barrier that exists between you and a partner or between you and a target audience.
- Legal requirements: in some cases, the translation may be required by law. This may be the case if a business operates in a country where the official language is not English. You may have to translate legal documents (including contracts, permits, and licenses).
- Customer need: translation may be necessary if your customers speak a different language. You can achieve better customer satisfaction by providing content translated into their language.
- Branding & marketing: companies may need translation services for their branding and marketing efforts in new global markets.
After the initial assessment, the translation agency next considers the target audience. Why is this important? Because the translated content must be customized to fit the language and cultural preferences of the target audience. Here are some considerations the agency reviews when determining the target audience:
- Language proficiency
- Cultural context
- Age and education level
- Technical knowledge
The next step in the pre-translation phase is defining project requirements. This is a crucial step in the translation process. During this phase, the translation agency considers the following points:
- Scope of the project
- Source content format
- Desired format of the final translation
- Timeline for completion of the project
During this phase, the workflow of the project is established. Translation agencies generally use this workflow:
Project initiation: the first step in the process, which defines the project scope, establishes project requirements, and chooses the translator.
Source content analysis: once the project has begun, the agency analyzes the source content to determine its complexity, formatting requirements, and if subject matter expertise is needed for the project.
Translation: is when the source content is translated into the target language. The process may make use of machine translation or human translation; however, it may include a combination of both.
Editing & proofreading: once the translation process has been completed, the content is then edited and proofread. This step ensures the translation is done to the required quality level. During this step, the translated content is checked for errors, terminology consistency, and culturally appropriate content.
Quality control: during this phase, the content is checked to ensure the translation is accurate and consistent. There may be a collaboration with another translator or editor to ensure the content reaches the desired quality level.
Formatting & publishing: now the translation is ready to be formatted for final delivery to the client. The content can be formatted for a website, for printing, or for other uses.
Follow-up and feedback: after the content has been delivered to the client, the translator seeks feedback to ensure the final product meets their requirements. The feedback can also improve the translation process and ensure the translation agency offers high-quality services to future clients.
Choosing the Right Translator
Choosing the right translator/translation agency for your project is important. A professional agency offers a broad range of translation and localization services. However, there are some crucial factors to consider when choosing the right translator, including:
Experience and expertise: it’s essential to find a translator with enough experience and expertise. Are they familiar with your industry? Does the translation team include experts in your field? Is the translator proficient in both the source and target languages, as well as the culture?
Quality control: a translation agency should know your work or industry. The company must also use quality assurance measures, such as review and proofreading. They should also have a system to take care of errors and inconsistencies should they arise.
Project management: is another essential factor to consider when choosing the right translator. Do they have a project management system in place? Will they get the project done on time and on budget? Do they have several communication channels to ensure you’re updated throughout the project?
Reputation and references: finally, you need to consider the translation agency’s references and reputation. Do they have an excellent reputation for high-quality translation work? Have they worked with other clients who had similar needs to yours? Are they able (and willing) to provide references and case studies to showcase their expertise?
Once you’ve found the right translator, it’s crucial to determine clear project requirements and effectively communicate these to the translator. This ensures the project meets your needs and expectations and achieves the right outcome. Establishing project requirements also helps to develop a positive relationship with the translator, especially if you offer helpful feedback.
Translation Tools and Technology
Translation agencies use a wide range of modern technology and translation tools to ensure they produce high-quality translations. They use some of the following tools and technology for their translation work:
Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) Tools
CAT tools are software programs that assist translation agencies to work more efficiently. These tools include features such as translation memory, terminology management, and quality assurance checks. Some of the most prominent CAT tools include:
- SDL Trados
Machine Translation (MT) Tools
Machine Translation tools are also popular with translation agencies. Three main types of MT tools are used the most often, including:
- Rule-based (RBMT): is an older approach to translation. This tool uses grammar and language rules based on linguistic information retrieved from dictionaries and grammar.
- Statistical (SMT): these tools generate translation based on statistical methods founded on text corpora. This method is often used by web-based translation tools such as Google Translate. The tools learn to translate through analyzing and accessing pre-existing human translations.
- Neural (NMT): these tools use artificial neural networks to predict the likelihood of a sequence of words. They generally model entire sentences on a single integrated model.
Project management software: translation agencies use these tools to streamline the workflow, assign tasks, track project progress, and manage deadlines and resources more effectively.
Quality Assurance (QA) tools: check each translation for errors, including grammar and spelling issues, consistency, and adherence to style guides. They work to ensure the final output meets the quality standards of the agency’s client.
Localization tools: these are specialized software used by software developers, project managers, and translators to localize software, apps, documents, and other types of content. Localization ensures the content fits the target audience’s language and cultural preferences/nuances.
Quality control is an essential step in the translation process for a translation agency. This step ensures that the final content has been translated accurately, is consistent, and meets the client’s requirements.
Editing & Proofreading
An editor for the translation agency reviews the translated content during the editing review. They may improve the text’s grammar, style, and overall clarity. They also correct errors, inconsistencies, and awkward phrasing.
Proofreading is done by a proofreader on the translation agency’s team. They conduct the final review to fix any errors, including typos and formatting issues. Proofreaders also ensure the text is polished and ready for the client.
Cultural and Linguistic Review
The cultural and linguistic review is an essential part of the review process for a translation agency. During this step, they ensure the translated content is grammatically correct and culturally and linguistically appropriate. Here are the steps involved to provide cultural and linguistic accuracy:
1. The translation agency assigns a native speaker
2. The reviewer must understand the target culture’s customs, traditions, and social norms.
3. Cultural and idiomatic expressions are also reviewed to ensure they are accurately translated.
4. Contextual understanding is also done by the reviewer. They check the content for its broader context and ensure the translation aligns with the cultural context of the target language.
5. The reviewer also checks sensitivity to local variations at the translation agency. Here, the reviewer ensures the content meets the regional variation and dialect of the target language.
6. Respect for taboos and sensitivities is also reviewed within the content. The reviewer ensures the content avoids sensitive topics. Taboos, and more that could be offensive or inappropriate in the target culture/language.
7. The reviewer next checks to see if the translation meets the guidelines and preferences established by the client regarding cultural and linguistic nuances.
8. Finally, the client reviews the translation work done by the translation agency. They will offer feedback or guidance if needed.
Client feedback is essential to the translation agency, and it’s part of the company’s quality assurance phase for the translation project. Incorporating client feedback ensures that the final translation meets the client’s expectations. Client feedback may include the following steps:
Client review & feedback: after the client receives the initial translation, they can review the translation and offer their feedback.
Feedback analysis: project managers usually analyze the client’s feedback, identifying any specific issues, concerns, or revision requests.
After these steps, the translation agency compares the client’s feedback with the original project requirements and any instructions given by the client. Feedback is then assessed to see if it aligns with the project scope and objectives.
Next, the feedback is categorized and prioritized based on its impact on the quality of the translation project. Critical issues and client-mandated changes are given top priority.
After the client’s feedback has been implemented, the translation is again reviewed and goes through an additional quality assurance check. This is done to ensure that revisions do not produce new errors or other issues.
Once the translation agency confirms the final quality assessment, the client can review the translated content again. Once the client approves the translation, the translation agency can close the project, and the final version is given to the client.
A translation manager is the person who oversees a translation project’s entire process, from beginning to end. They manage the schedule, team budget, and the translation team and ensure the accuracy of the translation. The project manager is usually the client’s main point of contact at the translation agency.
Timelines & Deadlines
Managing timelines and deadlines is crucial for a translation agency. The project manager usually manages these. The project manager usually manages timelines and deadlines using time management tools, including digital task management tools and software. The tools make it easier to visualize the workload, create reminders, and more to ensure the translators stay on top of the project’s priorities.
The project manager must also identify high-priority projects, ensuring these are done first. And they work to set realistic goals that align with the client’s needs and expectations.
The project manager also works to consider the team’s capacity and whether they can take on additional projects.
By these methods, the translation agency and its project manager can maintain and meet their project deadlines.
Client communication is crucial to a successful translation project with a translation agency. Most agencies make the project manager the client’s primary point of contact. This makes contact fast and easy. In addition, the client can always count on speaking with the same person every time. That person is the project manager in charge of the client’s translation project.
The project manager may stay in touch with the client via email and/or phone. These are the usual communication methods for a translation project.
The project manager contacts the client with any questions or issues that have come up. They may contact the client about extending the deadline, etc.
Translation agencies usually have subject matter experts and industry-specific team members. These individuals specialize in various industries, such as medical, legal, and technical.
Having subject matter experts allows the translation agency to offer their clients a one-stop solution and save them money.
Certified translations are another specialization a translation agency may offer. A certified translation is a translation that comes with a signed statement saying the translation is accurate and complete to the best of the translator’s knowledge and ability. The certification also ensures the translation has been done to the highest standards.
Certified translations may be needed for the legal documents that have been translated. They may also be required for government documents, such as marriage licenses and birth certificates.
One of the challenges that a translation agency may face is language variations in a translation project. These challenges sometimes relate to dialects, regional variants, and language nuances.
In these cases, the content may need to be localized to fit the language of the target language’s region or country.
A professional translation agency takes security seriously. They use a combination of data encryption, access controls (for their team), authentications, data backup & recovery, along with monitoring and logging access to confidential data.
Data that is prioritized for secure measures includes:
- Personal information
- Sensitive data
- Financial records
- Confidential business information
This data is usually encrypted to keep it safe and secure.
Scaling and growth should be included in a translation agency’s business plan from the very beginning. Of course, the plan may need to be modified over time; however, having a plan ensures scaling the business is a success.
As with other businesses, successful translation agencies manage their growth with these steps:
- Define their scaling strategy
- Pay attention to the quality of their translations as they grow
- Expand their translation team
- Invest in marketing and promotion
- Build their agency’s brand
- Standardize their operations
- Use more automation
- Monitor outcomes
- Rinse and repeat
As a translation agency grows, it must pay close attention to the quality of its translations. If quality drops as the company expands, it’s possible the agency could develop a bad reputation that could forestall its growth. The goal is to provide translations of the highest possible quality and to be much better than the competition.
As a professional language service provider, the translation agency must provide their clients with predictable, high-quality services. This is the best way to establish trust.
Being predictable means demonstrating continuous expertise and professionalism and by being committed to high-quality translations. This is how a translation agency can gain their clients’ confidence and build trust with them.
Long-term client relationships benefit the client and the translation agency. When they continue working with the same client over and over, the translation team becomes used to the client’s style, preferences, and more. This allows the team to improve its overall translation quality for the client.
A successful, professional translation agency offers consistent, high-quality translations for their clients. They do this through a combination of having the right translation tools, a dedicated project manager and translation team, and developing long-term relationships with their clients.
Choosing a reputable, suitable translation agency is crucial to the success of your translation project from beginning to end.
What does a translation agency do?
A translation agency offers various language solutions such as interpretation, translation, localization, voice-overs, and other language services.
How do I get a job in a translation agency?
You will need the requisite experience with languages and related work experience. It is possible to offer freelance translation services. In that case, the client would want to review your CV and portfolio.
A traditional translation agency will want a copy of your CV, and they may give you a test assignment to see if your language abilities align with their quality standards.
How do I find a good translation agency?
You can follow these tips to find the best translation agency for your project:
- The translation agency should have quality assurance processes in place
- The translation team must include translators and editors who are familiar with your industry/subject
- The translation agency should offer 24/7 customer support in any language
- The company and its translators must have the proper certifications
- See how fast the translation agency can complete your translation project
- Be sure to review the company’s reputation, reviews, and references
- Ensure the translation agency provides localization services