Choosing a translation agency is not an easy task and can be daunting, given the amount of trust businesses place in language experts. In many ways, the translation agency a global company or business chooses to work with becomes the voice of their brand as it is entrusted with the mission to get their message across to multilingual audiences. And this needs to happen while ensuring the original intended meaning comes across with 100% clarity.
As a top 10 language service provider (LSP) according to Nimdzi’s top 100 ranking for 2022, we know what it takes to find an agency that global brands can trust. So, in this article, we discuss the qualities companies should look for in a translation agency and explain how they can find the right one depending on their needs.
Hiring quality translators is one thing, but leading brands will need more than language experts from translation agencies that are going to manage much of their content production. If you work for a company that is currently in the process of looking at potential translation agencies to work with or are involved in the process because of your role (working in procurement for example), we suggest determining first and foremost, whether your enlisted agencies offer the following qualities:
One of the most important tasks a translation agency performs is connecting companies with the right language experts for every project – and this requires a comprehensive network of translators and other language professionals as different projects will require different types of translators.
Translation is normally one of the key language services required for any given project and companies will likely need a combination of other services on top of that: localisation, adaptation, interpreting, subtitles, voiceovers, automation and many more.
The top translation agencies use industry-leading translation technology to deliver projects at improved speed and with higher consistency. Such language technology includes machine translation, translation memory, terminology management etc.
Experienced translation agencies develop and refine their translation processes consistently in order to maximise efficiency and reduce the time and cost of translation content without compromising on content quality.
A translation agency should have a mature project management system in place that provides a high level of transparency, whilst keeping companies connected with every stage of the translation and publication of their content.
Quality translation agencies should be accredited under ISO standards and at least hold the ISO 17100:2015 standard for translation services.
In addition,the best translation agencies have some award wins under their belt and appear in the top 100 places of some of the industry’s most-recognised rankings including Nimdzi’s annual top 100 largest language service providers or CSA Research’s top 100 list of the largest LSPs globally.
Most quality translation agencies look at positive reviews and testimonials from their customers shared on their website so this is another good source to look at.
Looking for all of the above qualities in any translation agency is a standard process. However, every business is different and individual needs could change from one project to the next, so companies should also look at agencies that can deliver everything they need at scale, both now and in the future.
When it comes down to choosing the right translation company, smaller businesses and global brands need to start by fully understanding what their needs are. For example, which translation services are needed most, which languages need to be covered and for what types of content.
Once these aspects are known, companies can then identify their ideal language supplier by following these steps:
- Language coverage: Check if the translation agencies you listed cover all of the languages you need (and expect to need in the future).
- Specialist services: It is important to determine whether any specialist types of translation are needed, such as legal translation, medical translation, or marketing translation – and then check whether these dedicated services can be provided.
- Additional services: Discuss any additional services that might be needed beyond regular translation, e.g. localisation, desktop publishing (DTP), website translation, advertising adaptation, etc.
- Project experience: Look for a translation agency that has documented experience working on similar projects to your own.
- Subject matter knowledge: find agencies that have proven subject knowledge on the topics covered in your content.
- Relevant clients: Take a look at the list of clients agencies have worked with in the past and check for companies in your field and of a similar size.
- Volume of work: Talk to prospective agencies about the volume of work that might be needed to be taken on.
- Ability to scale: If a given project has the potential to grow over time (e.g. expanding into new markets), check that agencies have the capacity to scale with you and continue meeting the requested needs.
The best way for businesses to ensure they’re working with the right agency is to discuss the details of their project with them directly including asking for specifics. For companies that have plans to expand into Asia from 2025 for example, it is important to check the credentials of prospective agencies, because this is quite different from translating European languages.
Moreover, if content workload fluctuates at short notice, it is recommended to check if the listed agencies have the ability to take on the extra workload and ask about how they will manage this. The more companies and businesses know about their specific needs, the more they can learn about their selected agencies’ abilities to meet them.
It is not always easy to determine exactly which language translation services individual companies may need, but this is not uncommon. A manufacturing company may often need, for example, an extensive package of product translation, localisation, legal translation, marketing translation, including transcreation and adaptation, desktop publishing, website translation, along with multilingual SEO – among other things.
If you are not sure about the type of language translation services you need, you can speak to our language experts who can provide you with more advice on the matter. Submit your request via our contact page.