The Return on Investment of Technical Translation Services

When companies begin planning their expansion into new markets, they quickly realize that technical translation is vital to their success. Accurate translation—delivered on-time and on budget—can make or break an expansion.

In other words, an investment in technical translation services is an investment in the company’s future growth. But all too often, translation and localization are wrongly perceived as a cost center.

In reality, a Common Sense Advisory report suggested that companies that increased spending on translation—even in a shaky economy—were 1.5 times more likely to see an uptick in revenue than peers who did not invest.

In this article, we want to highlight the results that several of our clients experienced when they decided to approach technical translation as a profit center instead.

Increased credibility

Error-ridden translations can be damaging to a company’s public image. When you are trying to do business in a new market, you want both your partners and your end customers to feel that you are committed to them—and that means that you need your translations to be flawless.

Our client JSI Telecom creates software that handles data collection and analysis for law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In other words, their clients are laser-focused on accuracy and precision.

To save time and money, JSI tried using machine translation to translate their software, but the end product was not acceptable to their exacting clients. Users in the field would regularly express that the translated interface was difficult to understand. 

Worse yet, their business development representatives were having a tough time closing deals due to translation quality issues.

“We’d be standing in front of a client at a presentation, and they’d be reacting to the translation on the screen, and the quality was literally so bad our audience would laugh out loud. Trainers trying to explain something in a different language would often get caught out with a mistranslation on the screen and have to apologize as they explained things,” says JSI’s senior technical writer.

After JSI hired Art One to localize their software and the associated documentation, they quickly found that the improvements in translation quality helped them win new business. No longer were clients spooked by translation errors in sales decks or demos.

These improvements are due in large part to our quality assurance process, which we have honed through years of experience. Not only do we have stringent requirements for the translators we work with, but we also have a multi-step QA process. Each step is assigned to a different linguist so that a fresh pair of eyes can pick up on any errors or problematic verbiage. 

Cost savings

It may seem counterproductive but finding the right provider for technical translation services can lead to cost savings in the long run.

Convinced that translating technical documents will be a cost center, companies try to save money in myriad ways: employing machine translation, asking existing employees to tackle translation projects, or outsourcing to the lowest bidder.

In reality, these cost-cutting strategies can lead to additional expenses, from quality control to retranslating error-filled documents, and even damage control related to translation errors.

A language services provider that specializes in technical translation services can deliver high-quality translations without breaking the bank. For one thing, they have an existing network of expert vendors that they can rely on. Additionally, their experience means that they can detect potential problems in the translation workflow and address them before they can cause costly delays—or errors that incur other costs such as reprinting.

When we began working with JSI Telecom, mentioned above, they were surprised to discover that our processes actually saved them money when compared to machine translation. In particular, technical issues with Arabic had led to significant cost overruns on previous projects. They found that working with Art One Translations allowed them to save over $50,000 on a recent project—and to trim over two months’ time from the project lifespan.

(Read full JSI Case Study)

Reaching new markets

The Return on Investment of Technical Translation Services

When they invest in technical translation services, companies receive a warmer reception in the new markets they are targeting. A well-localized product can be the differentiator in a competitive bidding process. 

Our client Recollective knew that this would be the case. Their software is used by market research firms to gather feedback on a wide variety of products. 

As their COO Phil Dame states, “You’re not even a player in this research market with an English-only platform. Even serving market research firms only doing work in Canada, you need French. In the USA, you need Spanish.” And those markets were just the beginning: “We were starting with a few languages, but knew we were going to grow to dozens of languages, eventually.” 

To win new business internationally, Recollective realized that they needed to team up with a language services provider focused on technical translation services. The logistics of translating their entire user interface—and then keeping it up to date with each new release—was more than their internal teams could handle.

Additionally, the localization process gets more challenging as companies begin to deal with unfamiliar languages. No longer can internal resources assess the quality of a translation or provide insight into language-specific challenges. As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Language Services Providers (LSPs), on the other hand, have seen these issues before. They have a wealth of knowledge on how to handle issues such as right-to-left text or choosing between variants of a target language. 

By partnering with Art One, Recollective was able to launch into multiple new markets. Dame says, “Our sales to international clients are certainly tied to us having an available language.” They have also found that having a reliable localization partner is a huge asset during the bidding process. Dame added that “reliability and quick turnaround time [enable] us to win the contracts over our competitors. Being able to get things done in weeks and not months is critical to getting these deals done.”

(Read full Recollective Case Study)

The same is true of Thoughtexchange, another Canadian software company which operates in the education sector. Aggressive plans for growth meant that they needed to translate their interface into multiple languages, or risk losing business in key regional markets. 

By working with Art One, they were able to get their software localized quickly, allowing them to meet—and even exceed—those growth targets. As a bonus, they felt “more inclusive” when it came to their international customer base: “Being able to provide the experience in someone’s native language was huge,” says a member of their software release team.

(Read full Thoughtexchange Case Study)

Freeing up internal resources

Carrying out technical translation projects in-house can be time-consuming. If a company chooses to reassign employees with language skills to work on a project, those employees are not able to maintain their regular workload. Likewise, even if they outsource the translation itself, managing a large-scale localization project with multiple stages is a significant undertaking that will require dedicated personnel.

Our client Copperleaf Technologies discovered as much when they first launched their analytics software in French- and Spanish-speaking markets. They had planned to use internal resources to localize the software’s user interface and documentation, but they found that the process was moving more slowly than they would have liked—and that it was challenging to do at scale for additional languages.

Hiring contractors was not the ideal solution either. They would need to find, hire, and train multiple linguists in each language pair, then develop a process to validate the quality of their work. While internal resources might not be doing the actual localization, they would still be needed to supervise the process.

When they hired Art One to take over translation for the user interface as well as the marketing materials, they found that the release cycle took a week, instead of the months required when working with an overloaded internal team. Meanwhile, their internal team members now had the time to focus on their areas of expertise, improving productivity elsewhere in the company.

By working with an external provider, Copperleaf also found that it was easier to scale their localization effort, and they have since been able to add millions of dollars’ worth of revenue by expanding into new markets.

(Read full Copperleaf Technologies Case Study)

More often than not, our clients find that these outcomes go hand-in-hand with one another. Companies looking to save money or free up resources by working with an experienced partner also notice an improvement in translation quality, which in turn can lead to more sales. And companies who are looking to expand quickly or scale their localization process often do not realize how much money or time they are spending internally until after they hire a new partner and the savings become apparent.

If your company is looking to reach new markets—or if you need to save time or money on your technical translation process—Art One Translations is happy to show you how our experience will benefit you. Time and again, our clients have been delighted with their return on investment in our technical translation services.

Do you want your translations to be done on time and on budget?

Contact us to discuss your project, or request an obligation-free quote.

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