Should our Organisation Hire a Freelance Translator or a Translation Agency?
Online crowd technologies, such as freelancer aggregation platforms (i.e. Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, Guru etc.) and professional social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, are making finding project-based freelancers easier than ever.
Organisations can post their specific project requirements, deadlines and budgets. Independent contractors can bid to get the gig. This accessible solution is creating efficiencies and economies of scale for common skill sets. Online recommendations are helpful in evaluating the talent and subject matter expertise of a potential hire, but they are not guarantees of a high quality result or service level.
As with any project, clarifying the requirements is always the first step. Decision making criteria cannot be evaluated without knowing all of the parameters in advance. It is only after having a clear understanding and agreement within your organisation of your current and future project needs that you will be able to sort through the pros and cons of your translation service provider options. Having answers to these questions will also make the vendor evaluation, contracting and project management processes more efficient.
Whether you ultimately choose an agency, boutique specialised firm or solopreneur freelancer, you will be glad you asked yourself the following questions in advance.
Translation Project Requirements Clarification Questions:
- Is this a one-time translation project or an ongoing translation task?
- What is my turnaround deadline?
- What are the consequences if the deadline is missed?
- Do I have the expertise and bandwidth to spend time evaluating, screening and hiring one or more freelancers?
- Is this a general translation project or specialised topic requiring an expert?
- Do I need more than one subject matter expert (SME) to complete the project collaboratively with a project manager overseeing the deliverables and milestones?
- Am I translating the same content into multiple languages that would require more than one translator, thus requiring more project management efforts?
- Is this a common translation language combination or a more unique source and target language combination? For example, a common language combination is French to English, whereas Japanese to Swahili may be difficult to find qualified professional translators proficient enough in both languages.
- Does my project require certified translation documentation to comply with the regulations?
- What is the business risk if there is a mistake in the translation? Do we need our translator to have professional indemnity insurance?
Pros & Cons of Hiring a Freelance Translator
Cheaper: Freelancers have lower overheads, and typically working from home with no staff like project managers, sales staff and administrative roles. Thus, there are no agency fees needed to cover large business operating costs.
Direct Communication: With a freelancer, you are typically communicating with the same person from the initial contact to the project’s completion.
Verifiable Skillset: The same person you originally discussed the project scope with will also be the person completing the translation project. Therefore, you will have a good idea of their areas of expertise and background in advance. Checking references should be easy.
Recruitment & Contracting: You will need to search for, screen and negotiate the project contract with every freelancer individually.
Service Risk: If the freelancer does not have the skills promised during the contracting stage or provides poor service, you will only find out mid- or post-project. If the freelancer does not have professional indemnity insurance, loss recovery is very limited.
Limited Expertise & Bandwidth: An individual has a limited capacity to their skills and time. Once that limit has been reached, you are forced to start the recruitment process over again to find supplemental resources.
Pros & Cons of Hiring a Translation Agency
Professional Recruitment: Agencies are only as good as their pool of talent. Therefore, most translation firms have strict recruiting and screening standards to ensure only the most qualified professionals work on expertise-relevant projects.
Verified Deliverables: Reputable agencies have a primary translator and a secondary proofreader who are both proficient in the source and target languages. Therefore, all of the content is reviewed by two people before being released to the client.
Advanced Technology: As the translation industry grows, firms must invest in the latest translation memory (TM) technology to remain competitive. This technology increases the accuracy and efficiencies in the final output.
Turnkey Service: Language service providers (LSP) often offer a complete suite of services beyond translation, e.g. subtitling, voice-overs, transcreation and typesetting. By hiring a competent vendor, your project can be completed efficiently in a one-stop shop.
Guaranteed Results: Businesses often offer satisfaction guarantees to demonstrate their commitment to excellent customer service. If there is a mistake, agencies are more likely to carry professional indemnity insurance policies to protect all the parties involved.
Fees: Having resources on hand increases the overheads. Expenses are passed on to the client in the form of agency fees.
Firm Selection: There are many options. Finding an agency to partner with is a big decision. Looking at industry trade association memberships is a good first step.
Get in touch with our team today to discuss the details of your translation project. Let’s talk to see if Renaissance Translations is a good fit for your organisation’s needs.