Alex Parr, sales manager, talks about the differences between outsourcing translation projects and using in-house teams. Her thorough comparison will help you decide which approach would suit you best.

Outsourcing vs. In-house resources

Nowadays, businesses that need translation or localisation services have several choices: use in-house teams, send to freelance contractors, or work with a translation services company. It can be difficult to decide which path to follow so in this video I will talk about how both options have their own unique advantages and disadvantages.

The positives of using in-house teams

Using your own staff will guarantee both product knowledge and a strong awareness of correct terminology and tone of the documents. This approach will always produce a high quality product.

There will be little or no learning curve involved as the in-house team have already been immersed in the culture of the company and they share the company’s vision.

Potential mistakes during the early stages of a project will also be avoided due to inside knowledge of the documentation and business requirements.

The downsides of using in-house teams

Lack of translation experience means translations will take longer, increasing turnaround times and costs.

Also, the lack of utilising technology, as it is unlikely a company will invest in the expensive software used by translation companies which can lower costs by up to 30% and reduce translation time by as much as 50%

There’s also a lack of flexibility in several areas including target language and project start date. The company may only be able to complete in house translations for certain languages and fast turnarounds may not be possible if the in-house team is busy on other projects.

Limited scalability, as you will only have a certain number of people able to complete the translation project and if they need to take on extra work they probably won’t be able to cope.

Cost of using in-house staff compared to lower cost external staff. It’s not only the cost of the translation which will be slower due to lack of experience and software but also the hidden cost of using the staff time on translation when it could be used to increase revenue for other parts of the business.

The positives of using freelancers

Sourcing of professional translators for large volumes of work through the internet is easy. Worldwide networks can work in different time zones creating faster turnaround times It’s also cheaper to use freelancers for one off or low volume projects.

The negatives of using freelancers

Good translators can be difficult to find and must be tested to determine suitability. This can be a long process and use up a considerable amount of recruitment time. Managing the project can be difficult when using freelancers in different time zones and multiple languages.

You may not be a priority, freelancers will have work coming in from a number of sources there is no guarantee you will be high up on their priority list. No accountability, if they don’t deliver on time or decide to go AWOL there is little you can do about it.

It’s unusual for freelancers to be able to afford all the latest tools and technologies to increase speed, quality and lower costs. You may get an inferior end product which has taken longer to produce and cost more overall.

Now we have looked at using in-house teams and working with freelancers, the third way of dealing with your language projects is by outsourcing through a LSP.

The positives of using Language Service Providers

LSPs offer a centralised management and take responsibility of both the human and language resources. This takes away the time and effort needed by the company to look after their translation resources. This is particularly useful if you complete multi-language translation where the time to contact and explain each project is multiplied by the number of languages.

Your company will not need to purchase costly technology required to increase speed, improve quality and lower costs because your LSP will have this in-house. Access to a variety of expertise and language combinations that have been tested and are fit for purpose. Most LSPs will provide a dedicated project manager who is accountable for deadlines and quality.

The negatives of using Language Service Providers

The initial cost will be higher using a LSP although this will be mitigated by the additional costs of using in-house teams or freelancers. The translation will only be as good as the reference material you provide, lack of this information at the beginning of a project can result in the wrong terminology being used.

To sum up there is no right or wrong answer, its more a question of your company’s needs and the level of translation you require. Smaller, simple one-off projects are probable better suited for in-house resources or freelancers. Whilst more complicated multi-language projects which would not require the employment of full time team into your organisation are better suited for LSPs.

Cost is not the only factor, you should also consider the level of service, expertise and the benefits technology could bring to your translation needs.

These factors will determine the path your company should take.

 

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