Dealing With The Hidden Costs Of Localization

Dealing With The Hidden Costs Of Localization

Companies spend a lot of money making sure they get the branding right when launching new products and services.

For those with a global target audience, part of this budget has to include the provision for top quality localization, as failing to place a high importance on accurate translations will make it harder to build long-term trust with local clients, investors or employees.

There will always be more translation costs than meet the eye regardless of the size of your organization. However, the type of localization model used (centralized, decentralized or blended) plays a major role. 

Very few companies will be able to afford to build and maintain a dedicated pool of in-house translators, so it’s important they carry out thorough research before choosing a localization model and language service provider. 

So, what are the hidden costs (not all financial) associated with the respective models and how can they be dealt with?

Outsourcing
This requires placing a lot of trust in your localization partner. For example, if a company’s local offices lack translation and localization expertise, this could lead to poor, unsynchronized brand messaging, which will decrease the value of branding. Frequent time delays also lead to higher costs by slowing down time-to-market. This is why developing specific messaging strategies are so important, as it allows companies to speak with one voice. Outsourcing to freelance translators may also result in quality issues, as many may not have the right support structures in place to ensure thorough proofreading and quality assurance takes place. 

Staff costs
Contrary to what many purchasing managers might think, translating documents in-house can actually cost more. While in-house knowledge of the subject-matter may be thought of as an advantage, having highly specialized engineers and managers translating company literature not only takes longer, but it keeps them away from their job responsibilities. Outside of specialized translation tools, companies also loose the cost saving, quality and consistency enhancement advantages that translation technology brings. Any reputable translation company will have the support of third-party subject matter experts and terminology management solutions, and processes to involve company stakeholders without requiring full-time commitments from senior company representatives.  Centralized management and decentralized outsourcing have been proven to result in a higher quality translation, for less cost and produced in a fraction of the time.

Translation quality 
Local staff or local translation firms may not take the time to develop a terminology glossary, so specific company terms or industry ‘buzz words’ could end up with completely different translations across different corporate communications channels. Editing and proofreading by independent linguists may also not take place, which inevitably has an adverse effect on quality. Different translation firms may also have different quality standards and these could vary vastly. For example, the decentralized approach, where each country develops and manages its own translation, makes it almost impossible to properly monitor quality control.

Formatting problems
Many local offices lack the professional desktop publishing or HTML engineering skills required for high-quality localization. This means that outsourcing to a local firm is the only affordable option and so the costs of in-house staff doing the translation, their time spent sourcing and dealing with a local partner and the fee-for-service the vendor charges has to also be factored in. Last minute time delays or quality problems also push costs up.

Time 
Centralized models where companies build an internal translation group take time. In fact, it takes an average of ten to 15 times longer to produce a lesser quality translation, not including time for formatting and engineering. This will cause costly delays in getting localized products to market, especially if there are multiple products that need to be updated and re-released several times a year. Every second staff spend on translating is also time away from regular duties.  

Local vendors
The typical services offered by local translation vendors can lead to an increase in costs, as very few vendors will be able to offer a turnkey translation service, including formatting, desktop publishing and localization engineering. This will add significant extra costs to the bottom line of each local office as they will be forced to find another vendor to complete such tasks as formatting, graphic design work or HTML programming.

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