Planning Your Language Services Strategy for 2017

Language services shouldn’t be just another check box on your list of to-dos when planning for 2017. Taking the time to think through a language services strategy now will help you work smarter and be more cost effective in the year to come.

When a seemingly mere translation slipup equals thousands of products pulled from the shelves, millions of dollars in lost revenue, wasted efforts and public scrutiny, it’s safe to say there’s a lot at stake.

Despite this fact, many organizations still only give language services minimal thought—simply sending content over to a translation services provider and waiting for it to come back or using a bilingual employee for vital in person communications. However, there is so much more that should be factored into the equation. And this is where a language services strategy comes into play.

Turn your language efforts into a true business strategy

No doubt, translation and interpreting directly affects your organization’s ability to achieve business goals. This is why it’s important to put a comprehensive strategy around how you approach and manage these efforts. Don’t just look to the obvious document translation or on-site interpreting fulfillment for an event. Language service strategies should be well rounded to include all needs a company might have such as transcriptions, voiceovers and even Braille translations, when appropriate.

But what does it really mean to be strategic with language services?

It means looking at the big picture to develop a well thought out program that ensures high quality translations and/or interpreting, cost effective solutions and accountability to program results. It also should include giving thought to the long term goal of embedding language services into a corporate culture and carrying those goals out over time.

This strategy should, of course, align with and support your overarching corporate goals around reaching new demographic markets or catering to the ones you already have.

Define your strategy: Key areas to focus on

If you are not sure where to begin, the best place to start is by analyzing the current state of your organization’s language access efforts. Consider the answers to these questions:

  • What are your organization’s business objectives for 2017?
  • How do language services fit into this puzzle? For example, who are you targeting? Who could you be targeting with the addition or expansion of language services?
  • Is there anything your organization can do to better manage the translation/interpreting program to help achieve company goals?
  • Are there inefficiencies in the workflow that can be addressed to make it easier, faster or more cost effective to translate content?
  • Are you properly staffed or have access to professional resources for interpreting encounters?
  • Are there new technologies and tools your organization can implement to gain more efficiencies and market share?
  • Do you have enough internal knowledge to assess new technology solutions or would seeking professional services be more efficient?
  • What metrics will you use to measure the success of your language services strategy?

The answers will help you quickly understand if there is a better way to approach your language services. Addressing all of those elements is essentially what shapes your language services strategy.

Eliminate the chaos: Set up a one-stop shop

One factor that you may want to look at as part of your language services strategy is how initiatives are managed across the organization. A disparate process that is completely different for each team throughout the company can be riddled with inefficiency.

On the flip side, one go-to place to house all your organization’s language services projects, translation information and workflow can make managing language initiatives easier for everyone involved. With this approach, there is no confusion as to which department is doing what with translations or who is handling procuring interpreters. Instead, you have a more planned and organized approach by centralizing all your efforts. If more than one vendor is chosen to handle language services, it is important to internally manage the projects with a point of contact or specific department. Many times, outsourcing this to a professional language services firm is the most cost effective way to go because you don’t have to staff up, install new systems or manage internal processes. Additionally, you have the assurances of a professionally qualified linguist which should boost customer/client satisfaction and allow your staff to stay focused on core competencies.

Implement new technologies and tools to improve processes

Another important consideration to factor into a language services strategy is the technology and tools required to execute an effective program.

New, innovative technologies—such as translation content connectors, video/phone interpreting—may also help you achieve your organization’s market penetration goals. The right technology can expand your reach and automate some of the workflow to help you meet quicker turnaround demands and achieve long-term cost savings. Such tools will also give you needed workflow transparency such as managing usage, schedule and financials through one platform.

Track your progress: Accountability matters

Building a sound strategy doesn’t end with improvements. On an ongoing basis, you should monitor how effective the program changes are to make sure your strategy is actually working.  Here are some suggestions to help you keep an eye on your strategy effectiveness:

  • Review start to finish time to gauge the timetables of your translation projects
  • Track total spend and cost savings reports to give insight into how your budget is spent
  • Translation memory reuse rates to show cost savings achieved
  • Survey increases in customer segment purchases that language services are being delivered to

Boost your language services strategy in 2017. A strategic approach to language services is all about looking at how translation and interpreting impacts your business efforts—and setting up a program that can help you get there. Don’t know exactly where to start? A good place to begin is with an assessment, and we can help with that. Metaphrasis can evaluate your current processes and determine the best route for getting your company to a better state to maximize the effectiveness of your language service efforts.