Making translation part of your business plan
Businesses often think about translation at the very last minute.
Let’s take a small beauty company for example. They have a new product they want to launch in Greece. They sort out all the legal and technical product requirements first, then a week before the official launch, they realise the packaging is still in English, and the marketing communications have not been thought through with this new target market in mind. That’s simply bad business planning.
When we talk about business plans, we refer to targets, goals, numbers, figures, new market segments, new product launches, increasing customer reach etc. To achieve these goals, businesses break down the journey into steps. Undoubtedly, translation is one of these steps, especially when a business aims to reach a new market.
Making translation part of your business plan will allow you to properly prepare your organisation in terms of processes, budget, timeframes, project management, product development and marketing communications.
So, let’s take a look at some key numbers to help you plan for translation.
Let’s start with the big question: money. How much will it cost? Unfortunately, there isn’t one answer fits all. How much does your product cost? How much time have you spent creating it? What are your ROI projections? The translation price should be reflecting all the above.
But to give you some figures, a translator might charge from £30 per 1000 words (too little, run away!) to £250 per 1000 words or more. Or maybe they'll charge per hour or per project. There’s a huge difference between these numbers but think!
What do you expect from a professional profile? Do you want someone who happens to speak a couple of languages? Do you want a qualified translator? Do you want a qualified translator + expert in your area of business + experienced?
An idea would be to approach a few professionals, request quotes, brief them and establish long-term relationships with them. Ask for their price lists and use that information to budget for future projects. If you didn't budget for translation this year, this will help you budget for it next year.
Also, there are plenty of survey results online listing the average translation charges per language pair. These can provide you with a good idea of what to expect more or less.
As a rule, translators can deliver from 2,000 words a day. But, it’s all relevant. If your translator is a true specialist, uses translation technologies and can focus, they will be able to deliver more. The 2,000 words per day figure can help you build a project timeline but remember it’s only an indication.
Don’t forget to allow time for proofreading. Anything that is for publication, should be proofread. Allow half the translation time for proofreading. For example, if 5 days are allocated to the translation task, then 2.5 days should be allowed for proofreading.
Another tip here is to allow time for potential questions, phone calls and finalisation. Ideally, you would have written an excellent translation brief and you would have sent it with the relevant reference material to both the translator and the reviewer.
This means fewer questions and more agreement in style between the translator and the reviewer. If you want to explore more about what you can do before translation to facilitate the process, read my tips on 4 things to do before translation.
Once your translation is finalised and delivered, make sure you check it before you send it off to your designer, web producer or printer. Make sure you have ensured everything is there in the right colours, fonts etc.
If you want to know more about what you can do after translation, read my 5 tips here. This phase is known as pre/post-production checks and it’s very important. It can make or break your brand. So, make sure to factor in time for it.
Now that you have a better idea about timescales, you can allocate the appropriate amount of time for translation within your project plans.
If this is your first time contracting translation professionals, or if you’re adding a new language to your portfolio, you need to have an established process for this.
For example, do you have Terms & Conditions specifically tailored for translators? Do you have a test in place and a brief that you always send out before deciding to go ahead with a translation supplier? Do you have an NDA template? Do you have a new supplier form?
And how do you choose whether to go for an agency or a freelancer? Here is a post on that to help you decide.
If you have your eyes on a new market, you have to budget and plan for translation. The only way to expand your presence in a new market is through translation. It’d be a huge shame if you oversaw or underestimated the time and cost involved in translation.
I’ve seen product launches delay for 1 or 2 years either due to bad planning for translation or simply due to bad translation. And usually, when you plan for translation, it rarely ends up being bad.
To help you further, I have created the below checklist.
These are some of the potential areas within your organisation that touch on translation:
- legal department: preparation of NDAs, Terms & Conditions, Contracts for translators etc.
- marketing team: writing content intended for other markets, crafting marketing communications to be translated, acting as a liaison between translators and your organisation, replying to translators' queries, planning new product launches in countries abroad, writing briefs for translators, exploring multilingual SEO.
- accounts: setting up new suppliers, following through invoices, payments etc.
- IT team: deploying, testing and publishing new content in foreign languages (often a challenge!)
- product management team: analysing ROI, tracking product performance, developing new ideas, writing briefs for translators, answering translation queries regarding the products, writing content for translation such as user guides, FAQs etc.
- business developers/analysts: looking for talent, outsourcing translation to suppliers, analysing ROI, prioritising projects, looking into new opportunities in new markets, budgeting, planning, hiring, etc.
- C-suite: making decisions on which languages and markets to prioritise, signing off budgets, influencing the roadmap, ensuring alignment between translation projects and business strategy.
This list is certainly not exhaustive but it shows clearly how translation can be found in the core of your business and how it can affect the workload and productivity of several teams within your organisation.
Making translation part of your business plan and strategy, will allow you to prepare for it and establish business processes. By doing so, everyone in your teams will know their role and how to deal with translation. This means better time management, increased productivity, efficiency and therefore a drop in internal costs.
So what are you waiting for?
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Vasiliki is a translator, interpreter, transcreator, blogger, consultant and director of Greek to Me Translations Ltd. She works with English and Greek and specialises in legal, creative, and psychometrics. She is a Chartered Linguist, member of CIoL, ITI and PEM and she is registered with the Greek Consulate as a certified translator and interpreter. She holds a BA in English and Masters in Business Translation and Interpreting. She is a Steering Group Member of the CIOL Translating Division and CIOL Business, Professions and Government Division. She is an Associate Lecturer in Legal Translation at London Metropolitan University, a public speaker and writer for industry magazines. Her mission is to help you achieve your goals through the power of words. You can follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.