Translated technical documentation, whether in manufacturing, agriculture, transportation or engineering, is crucial to creating a positive experience with your international customers.  When done well, your customers get what they expect: the ability to use product quickly, safely and without hassle.

When done poorly, your international customers may be frustrated by confusing or unclear instructions and they will be unable to use your product as expected.  This may prompt your customer to call your service department to resolve the issue.  This costs you time and money and unnecessarily reduces your profitability. Customers may also complain about their experiences via social media, which may further damage your international reputation.

Worse still is the potential for a misunderstanding that leads the customer to use the product incorrectly, possibly damaging it and/or hurting themselves in the process.  This could be very costly indeed! Therefore it’s important to choose a qualified translation vendor and for the right reasons.

Quality over price

Though it may seem so on first glance, not all translation companies are the same.  Choosing hastily or on price alone without understanding more about the company, its people, production processes and vetting of linguists can lead to some of the headaches mentioned above.  You may end up having to rework translations that are done poorly or that don’t use the right terminology.

Understand the outputs

If one vendor’s price is far cheaper than another’s, this can be a false economy.  They may use cheaper and less qualified translators or they may not be including the same level of quality control that the more expensive supplier does.  Query this to be sure you understand exactly what you are getting for your money.   Be sure you understand:

  • The exact process the translation company uses to complete the work.  Are you paying for translation only or does the translation process include quality control steps such as editing by another translator and/or final proofreader to ensure the highest quality possible?
  • If the linguists are true specialists in your field, find out how much experience they have.  Many translation companies claim to specialize in everything, yet may not have the depth of linguistic talent they claim. Cheaper prices sometimes reflect cheaper and less qualified translators are being used.
  • The value of glossaries and terminology clarification requests.  Good translation companies ask if you have preferred terminology, have a glossary of translated terms or if you don’t, whether you’d like to have them do so. They should be able to clearly articulate the value of these and the quality of translated output and consistent use of your preferred terminology (especially useful when a team of translators is required to complete the work).
  • Good vendors will articulate the price and quality benefits of certain translation technologies and optimize them for you.  This will save you a great deal of time and money in the future.
  • A good vendor will suggest to you how you can optimize your technical writing style and structure to save time and reduce costs.

Do your research

We’re all under pressure to deliver outputs faster to meet our customers’ needs at the best price possible.  Be sure to “lift the hood” on your translation vendors to ensure you avoid the costly pitfalls of buying on price alone.

Coming soon

Our next blog post will provide you with tips on how to do exactly this. It’s a how to prepare your documents for translation that reduces confusion on the part of translators and makes them easy to process for translation.  This alone will save you a great deal of time, effort, money and headaches.

Gateway Globalization can help you create the most translation-ready technical documentation and extend the benefits right back to you by delivering faster and more cost-effectively.




309 Court Avenue, Suite 328
Des Moines, IA 50309

[email protected]
Monday-Friday: 7am-7pm