Language quality can make or break your company’s localization program. Any project can run into trouble without a rigorous process to find and correct errors in translation. And even the most skilled translators need feedback to perform their best work.
But who should tackle the vital challenge of assessing and improving language quality?
You have three basic options: rely on your translation vendor to provide QA, turn to your internal staff, or outsource the work to a third-party service. If you’re investing significant resources in localization, outsourcing may be your best bet—but only if you partner with a truly unbiased language quality management team.
Who Vets the Vendors?
Translation agencies normally edit their own work, and they may also perform an additional round of quality review. Even so, vendors may have trouble acknowledging faults in their own translations; they may not even realize what mistakes they are making or how their work could be improved. Meanwhile, flaws in translation may be subtle and hard to spot. For example, the translated content could clash with the client’s brand message or invoke inappropriate cultural references, even if the language is technically correct.
In short, translators may be able to fix some of their own errors—but they risk missing other problems that a fresh pair of eyes could have caught. If you entrust QA to your vendor alone, you’re taking a leap of faith.
Alternatively, you could assign the responsibility to your firm’s internal team. There’s a level of comfort in working with people you already know and who know your business from the inside. Your in-country personnel may know the local language and culture. You may also appear to save money in the short run.
On the other hand, in-house staff rarely have the specialized expertise to provide top-quality feedback to translators. In addition, their other responsibilities and priorities mean they have limited time to spend on vetting and correcting translations. As a result, the QA process can easily run into bottlenecks, leading to costly slowdowns for your localization program.
How Outsourcing QA Can Boost Your Localization Program
A third-party team has advantages over both your vendor and in-house staff. By outsourcing QA, you can reap multiple benefits that increase the success of localization.
- Gain an independent, unbiased perspective
By outsourcing, you can obtain an impartial perspective on the quality of your translations. It’s simply easier for a third party to examine your vendor’s work and provide objective feedback, free of the biases that can interfere with the review process.
Outsourced third-party experts can not only spot errors your vendor has missed, but also offer fresh insights about the best approach for your product and brand. That gives you an extra level of confidence in the results of your localization program—as long as your QA team offers a genuinely independent point of view, and is not engaged in competing with your vendor.
- Provide professional feedback to your translators
Internal QA often falls to in-country marketers, salespeople, or others who lack a background in linguistics or translation. Such untrained reviewers tend to provide vague or inaccurate feedback, or subjective feedback that reflects their own personal style preferences, rather than objective standards of quality.
By contrast, an outsourced team of QA experts produces detailed, structured assessments and language quality metrics that professional translators can readily understand and use. Such concrete, actional feedback not only leads to immediate enhancements in quality, but also helps translation teams reduce their errors and improve their own work over time.
- Maintain control of your messaging
When in-house teams are left to vet language quality on their own, you can lose valuable control over your messaging. For example, the in-country staff at a satellite office may alter content to match their own ideas and preferences, disregarding the strategy and guidelines developed at headquarters.
Conversely, third-party language quality specialists work directly for you. They align translated language with your company’s wants and needs, without changing the meaning of the original content. Outsourcing thus enables you to centralize your messaging and ensure consistency across all regions.
- Streamline the localization process and shorten your time to market
Through outsourcing, you gain a dedicated team focused only on the mission of language quality assurance. That not only reduces the burden on your internal staff, but also keeps bottlenecks and delays from clogging up the review process—so your localized products and content can reach markets faster.
Outsourcing doesn’t mean sacrificing intimate knowledge of your business. Professional third-party QA experts work closely with your staff members, gaining an insider’s view of your product and brand so they can tailor their recommendations to your needs. In this way, you can have the best of both worlds.
- Avoid the hidden costs of staying in house—or neglecting QA entirely
Outsourcing requires a financial outlay up front. But it’s important to weigh those expenditures against the indirect costs of relying on your in-house staff, instead of professional third-party experts.
An inefficient in-house QA process can slow down the localization process—and it can sap valuable resources that are needed elsewhere in your organization. Likewise, flawed quality reviews allow errors that can harm your brand image, degrade the customer experience, and undercut your ability to attract and retain customers. Such problems can easily cost you more money than you save in the long run.
Finding a Truly Independent Team
When you decide to outsource, you confront a new challenge: how to obtain truly independent assessments of language quality. Some vendors offer third-party QA services, in addition to their primary translation and localization services. But can you trust them to evaluate their own competitors fairly?
Full-service translation agencies may have an interest in replacing your existing vendor—so it’s hard for them to claim an unbiased perspective. At the same time, your vendor may have difficulty accepting feedback from a potential rival. When you hire one agency to assess another’s work, you risk injecting competition into what should be a collaborative relationship.
To avoid this problem, you may want to hire a dedicated language quality management provider. This kind of company doesn’t sell primary translation services at all. Instead, its only mission is to evaluate and improve the quality of translations performed by other teams—so its experts can focus solely on providing support to your vendor and performing impartial assessments of language quality.
The right independent provider can offer localization industry expertise, deep experience in the specific challenges of language quality management, and a laser focus on your needs, with no bias or hidden agenda. That’s a proposition worth considering if you need superior QA and world-class localization.