Three Ways to Build A More Effective Translation Team

Here at Glyph, we have an obvious bias towards outsourcing translation solutions. Beyond the fact that it’s our core business, there are a number of very compelling reasons to look for out-of-house help in planning and executing your localization program for international markets.

But… if you are convinced that you are better off going it alone, never let it be said we didn’t want to lend a helping hand. Here are the three most effective strategies we use when we build our own world-class translation teams.

Use Native Speakers:

Time and again we get frantic calls from clients whose translation projects have either flopped or hit a brick wall in their new market. More often than not, the root problem lies in the fact that the translation team are members of the home office staff who happen to have some experience with the language in question. While it is always great to see someone step up and offer to dust off their old minor in Italian, these translators often lack both comprehensive knowledge of idioms and usage and a deep understanding of the dynamics of that market itself.

Whenever possible, include translators who are not only native speakers of the target language, but who also have extensive travel or living experience in the source language market (typically the US or the UK).

Concentrate on Project Management:

As strange as this sounds, many in-house translation projects are derailed because they are not part of the organization’s core project management system. You would think that the move into a foreign market would see companies concentrating heavily on the process behind the translation elements of the campaign. But this is often not the case because translation, localization, and transcreation are not processes that are already baked into the organization’s culture. As a result, they become a single “box” in the development flow chart rather than a distinct and measurable process in their own right.

Think of the case of a US based culinary school preparing to launch a recruiting drive in South America. They will list all of the assets they’ll need, do some research on where they think they will get the best traffic, prepare to develop new web assets and so forth. But more often than not, the project plan will only substitute “translate copy” in place of the copy writing stage instead of outlining a process for accurate and effective localization of each key piece together with a plan to measure effectiveness and fine-tune the campaign.

Build Feedback Loops:

Many translation projects are seen as “one and done” on the part of management. And internal teams contribute to this approach because they are seldom in a position to have localization comprise the majority of their work day. “Getting the brochure done in Swedish” is something to check off a list rather than part of a cycle of continuous improvement aimed at communicating as efficiently and effectively as possible in the target market.

Be sure to build in some capacity for gathering feedback on your market’s reaction to localized pieces and incorporate that feedback into successive print runs, packaging updates, and website content.

If you keep these three tips in mind when putting together an in-house translation team, you will be well on your way to developing a more effective and powerful localization program for your international markets. If you are having trouble with any of these stages, get in touch. We can help.