Note: This blog entry was originally written in Japanese in 2020 for our Japanese website. We used our machine translation platform Translation Designer to translate the entry into English and to post-edit the output for readers outside of Japan. The original Japanese entry can be found here.

A new project has been launched at your company and you have been appointed to manage the translation work of the documents in the project. If this is an infrequent translation request, you can just get a quote from a translation company and decide on the vendor, which is usually enough. But this time, it is a relatively long-term project. If you have no experience in translation work, how should you find a contractor for a project? We have gathered some tips on this. Let's take a look at the basic flow of choosing a translation company.

Confirming your translation needs

Purpose of translation
Find out why the translation is needed. This includes an overview of whether it's intended for internal use or outside of company, if it's urgent, why it's required, and what kind of documents need to be translated. Also, know the language direction of each document to be translated, such as Japanese to Chinese or Japanese to English.

Consider who will translate
Some companies have a translation team or translators within the company. First of all, it is a good idea to consult with your team or translators if they can take on even a part of the translation project that you will be in charge of. Even if you decide to outsource everything to a translation company, they should be able to provide basic information such as what points you should be aware of when selecting a vendor.

Decide on the requirements

Gather your information for requesting a translation company to make a proposal.

Project overview
Specifically, the background of the translation request, intended usage of the translated document (i.e., required quality level), language direction, and time frame. If you have in-house translators or vendors you already work with, check with them in advance for what kind of services they can provide and include them as necessary requirements in your request for proposal. This will make it easier to obtain a more specific proposal.

Screening points
Briefly summarize what you should evaluate. Prioritizing quality, cost, or turnaround time is a good approach. It should be noted here that each vendor prepares feasible proposals and proposals that aim for higher evaluation, so it is easy to overlook the pitfalls hidden behind them. For example, as a result of reducing costs, the translation quality may not meet your standards. When selecting a vendor, it is better not only to read the proposal but also to have several meetings with the representatives of each vendor. In addition, in the case of a translation project that lasts for several years, whether or not it is proposed from a long-term perspective is also an important point. Other factors when considering a vendor may be whether they are familiar with the latest trends such as machine translation and post-editing and pre-editing work.

Correspondence after delivery
Consider how to review the deliverables from a translation company. Who reviews in what way, what to do with the results of the review, and so on. It is better to include these in your request for proposal. It is desirable to define in a contract for how to deal with unacceptable translations after delivery, which means it is essential to cooperate with your legal department.

Vendor selection process
Put together the process and schedule for selecting a translation company and the expected kickoff date of the translation project. It is a good idea to set up a schedule with milestones such as a Q&A period for the request, proposal preparation, meetings, and sample translations for quality check.

Request for proposal to translation companies

Summarize the above contents briefly and consult with each translation company. Searching on the internet is one way, but it's more efficient contacting a translation company you've already worked with in the past, getting referrals or recommendations from others, or searching from an industry group website such as Japan Translation Federation's site. (Because there are thousands of translation companies in Japan alone!)

Kawamura's translation services

We hope this blog was helpful for considering what you should do when you request translation services or outsource a long-term translation project for the first time. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Depending on which of the factors such as quality, turnaround time, or cost should be prioritized, it becomes more important in the future to wisely select between or combine human translation and machine translation with post-editing. At Kawamura International, our experienced staff will propose the optimal solution according to your needs and challenges that you face. If you have any questions or concerns about your translation or localization project or have questions in general, feel free to consult us.