Translation is not an obvious or quick process, nor is it an easy one. It involves invaluable human technological resources. It is not merely a question of writing a text in another language; it is an art of expression that is subject to a process of exhaustive interpretation and mental exercise. In the current context, a good translation is an open door to the internationalization of individuals and companies and to the dissemination of messages that in the past were blocked due to language barriers.

For this reason, and due to the constant need to communicate with different countries, there are more and more companies that offer linguistic services. We are not just talking about translation, but also interpretationaudio transcriptionsubtitlingdubbing, among others. Choosing the right company to meet your needs can be daunting because of course you want to get a balance between quality and price, but there are other factors that must be taken into account before accepting the first quote you receive for the service you need.

If you have a document you would like to send to partners of other nationalities, or are organizing a congress or participating in international trade fairs, it is important to consider language services. In the first case you will need a translator and for the other two cases, an interpreter. The best option is to contact a translation company that can offer you the appropriate contacts. There are many other services such as audio transcriptionvideo subtitling and dubbing, and for all of these there are various options to think about.

For the purposes of this article we will consider the case of Translation. You have a document written in Portuguese which you need to have translated into another language for professional reasons. Now the question is: what is the best company for the service you need?


 1. Information about the company

Search the Internet for possible translation companies in your country that can provide the sort of work you require. Start by selecting a small number of companies and try to find their websites, where you can find out all sorts of information about them. You may see information about the kind of work they usually do and even a list of clients they have worked with. This will give you a broader idea of the specialization in which the company will be more likely to work.

Through the website you can also find the company’s profile in social media like Facebook or LinkedIn, and there are two portals exclusively for translators which may be very useful to you. Proz and Translator’sCafé host the profiles of a variety of companies. The most legitimate ones should have more information on their profiles.


2. Feedback

It is equally important to ask for opinions on the company’s work. You can ask your friends or business contacts who have already worked with the translation companies you have shortlisted. This way, you can build up a more complete profile regarding how far people feel they can trust each of the companies you are researching. In the portals mentioned above, you can look up the ranks, opinions and ratings for the various companies. All this information is important for you to personally assess each of the translation companies, so that you can contact only those that are trusted by others.


3. Quality

Try to find out if the translation company is certified. It is important to know whether the company follows European Standard EN 15038, published in 2006 by the European Committee for Standardisation (which originated the more recent ISO 17100 concerning the provision of translation services). It is the only European standard that defines quality requirements and certifies the services of the translation industry, including all the stages of the translation process: human and technical resources such as technological tools, quality management, procedures and implementation of best practices, customer support and other related services, like interpretation or document certification.

Choosing a company certified by this standard means having the guarantee that it provides high-quality services through professionals with specialized training, that there is quality management and that it is possible to draw up contracts where the service provision terms are defined from the start. More than that, it guarantees that all procedures follow an international standard.


 4. Quote proposal

When asking a translation company for a quote, pay attention to the communications you exchange with these companies. We would like to highlight two important points: the price and the delivery deadline.

Be wary of very low prices. Work that is well done involves costs, and there are international average rates that apply to translation projects and which you can find on the Internet. If you allow yourself to be seduced by low prices, you run the risk of having your translation done by inexperienced workers or even by machines that do not in any way guarantee the quality of the work.

Also be suspicious of very tight deadlines. The average number of words a professional can translate is around 3,000 a day. Knowing this, you should calculate the average number of days that your document can take to be translated. In addition, ask the project manager at the company you are contacting about a possible review of the translated document by another professional. This review will guarantee even further the quality of the translation, which may be compromised if the work is not done properly and within a plausible time frame.

Try to find out if the company works with native translators, i.e. with professionals who translate documents from a foreign language into their mother tongue. By doing this you can ensure that the person who works on your document masters the language she is writing in and is not only linguistically but also culturally knowledgeable. This way, it is possible to ensure you get more reliable results and a good translation, because it is difficult to translate into a language we do not practice regularly.

Clearly, there are good and bad translation companies, with better or worse performance, offering higher or lower quality work. More than a matter of luck, being aware of the factors mentioned here can ensure you have good foundations for obtaining excellent language services.

Are there other factors you usually take into account when choosing your language service provider? What are the main difficulties you face in your screening process? We would love you to share your experience with us!