Article by Valeria Nanni.
When it comes to managing localization from the client side, the tendency is to rely on two main pillars: language support and translation technology. The standard approach in the industry is to assign these key areas to two separate parties, usually outside the organization. Oftentimes, companies choose to also have linguistic quality reviewed by an additional third party, which brings the headcount to three different vendors. However, an increasing number of providers now offer a full-meal deal that includes linguistic, quality and tooling support.
There is no single, straightforward answer to this question, so here are some points for you to think about and use to evaluate the risks and benefits of selecting a single vendor versus working with multiple providers.
Working with a partner who can provide language support using a tool they own has the undeniable advantage of centralization, enabling your workflows to be much faster and more efficient — with the added benefit that you won’t need to worry about training resources on the tool or serving as the middleman when the platform doesn’t work as expected. Additionally, costs can be reduced considerably since you normally get a better deal when using the same provider for both the localization work and the translation management system. However, although working together on the same platform can provide a great foundation for seamless processes while lowering your costs, it’s also essential that a tool has all the features and automation abilities you need. A dedicated translation technology provider might be better placed to offer such features as connectors to content management systems and comprehensive data management and visualization functionality. So before you decide to move to a different platform, make sure you review it in-depth to see if it ticks all (or most) of your requirements.
Vendor management can take a long time, from everyday communications, feedback sharing and quarterly business reviews to more bureaucratic procedures (such as paying invoices and contract renewals). Maintaining a relationship with one single vendor can simplify your work and grant you more time to dedicate to optimizing the workflows. The downside is that you might miss out on the knowledge that two or more vendors can provide and be less exposed to what different players in the industry are currently able to offer. If you choose to go for a single partner, make sure you keep up on your knowledge of what’s out there in the localization industry in other ways and continue to foster relationships.
Working with the same provider means closer feedback loops. This is even more true when you split your language work between an agency for translation and another one for QA work. When you are working between two partners taking care of your language quality, you may find that it takes some time to get the feedback and to pass it on, provided that no disagreements arise that will require even longer for you to resolve. It goes without saying that this setup can slow down the QA process, your learning curve and, therefore, the quality of your localized content. By working on the same tools and with agreed processes with just one provider, you can speed things up considerably while building a true partnership with a single vendor. This means you’ll have enough transparency and freedom to evaluate together which areas deserve more investment in terms of efforts and resources. Many companies decide to outsource quality checks to a different provider out of fear that the vendor supplying the translation work will lack objectivity. This is a fair point and something to consider. Therefore if you are thinking of centralizing your language efforts to one single vendor, it’s worth testing your partner’s quality evaluation, for example by leveraging internal language resources. Even checking just a set of the languages can give you an idea of how thorough and objective the results are and will help you decide if it’s a good idea to proceed.
The idea of relying on one single provider can make you feel anxious as it may lead you to think you don’t have options in case you want to stop working with that partner or that you lose negotiation power when the contract renewal is due. The risk that things go wrong does exist, so if you are thinking of going with a single partner try to identify what it is that you are worried about and imagine how you can mitigate that risk. For example, if you are concerned about having an easy way out if you are no longer happy, ask yourself how long it would take you to move away from that provider. Keep in mind that this is true for both parties, the vendor also doesn’t want to lose the client! This can push both parties to work together towards a more collaborative approach and become true partners.
If you are tempted by the idea of fully integrating with a single provider, see if you can work in phases. For example, you could work with the tool they offer while still having a separate vendor for the language part, or the other way around. This way, you get an understanding of what it is like to collaborate with the partner and understand what quality they offer as well. When you build enough trust you can then decide to do a proper pilot with a fully integrated approach and see how everything works out.
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