03 August 2022

The True Cost of Translation Services in Business

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While translation services definitely have their place in the international business world, their costs can also add up over time, especially if you use them frequently.

But what is the true cost of translation services in business? In this guide, we’ll look at the average costs of translation services in 2022, just how cost-effective they are and some key factors that can impact these costs. We’ll also take a deeper look into whether there is a better way to manage your business translation needs without breaking the bank.

The Cost of Professional Translation Services

Translation services are often used in business as a form of communication between companies and their customers or partners. Businesses may need to translate documents such as contracts, marketing materials, manuals, and other sensitive company information.

The cost of professional translation services can vary depending on the type of project, the amount of text that needs to be translated, the language combination, the turnaround time, and other factors. It will also change depending on the type of service you use, for example a freelance translator vs. a translation agency.

In recent years, the average cost of translation services has ranged from £0.10 to £0.16 per word, with the average project (1000 words) costing around £100 – £150. The price will also depend on the level of difficulty of the project, with more complex projects often costing more.

It is important to note that there are a number of free or low-cost translation services available online. However, these services are rarely accurate or reliable as professional translation services. In addition, free translation services often do not offer human translation, which can be vital for certain types of projects.

What can affect translation price?

The cost of translation services can be affected by a number of factors, including:

  • Type of project: The type of project you need translating will affect the price. For example, a simple document such as an email may be cheaper to translate than a more complex document such as a contract.
  • Language combination: The price of translation services can also be affected by the language combination you need. For example, a project that requires the translation of English to Spanish may be cheaper than one that requires the translation of Chinese to English.
  • Turnaround time: The turnaround time for a project can also affect the price. For example, a project that needs to be turned around in a week may be more expensive than one that can be completed over a month.
  • Complexity: The complexity of the project can also play a role in the price. More complex projects, such as those that require technical or legal translation, will often be more expensive than simpler projects.

What about ROI?

When it comes to ROI, outsourced translation services could be more impactful. Although the translation industry offers an important way for companies to reach a global audience through localisation, the ROI can be difficult to measure. This is because there are many factors that contribute to the success of an outsourced translated document, such as the translation quality, the target market, and the marketing strategy.

Although it is important to remember that ROI is just one way to measure the success of a project, this can be a potential drawback for many businesses, as they may not be able to see a direct return on their investment in these services.

One-time project vs regular translation costs

For a single project, translation services could be a cost-effective solution. But what about regular, ongoing translation needs?

If it’s a one-time translation project, say a website translation, you could utilise specialist website translation services for a high-quality translation. Other one-time translation projects could include having documents translated fast for an upcoming international event or translating user manuals into multiple languages.

On the other hand, if your company has ongoing translation needs, it might be more beneficial – both financially and strategically – to develop your in-house employees and invest in Business Language Training.

In-house employees who are trained in multiple languages can offer quick turnaround times, as well as a better understanding of your company culture and products/services, as well as an intimate knowledge of your ongoing projects.

This can be a great option for companies who need to translate large volumes of text on a regular basis, or those who have complex technical manuals or other documents that require multiple revisions. 

It can also be more cost-effective in the long run, as you will only need to pay for the training once, and then you will have employees who can offer translation services on an ongoing basis.

Is There a Better Way To Improve Your International Communications?

For many businesses, the odd translation service may come in useful. However, it’s important to consider whether there could be a more cost-effective way to handle your translation projects, especially if you are a widely operating international company. 

Do you handle frequent international document translations to maintain communication between global clients? Do you regularly communicate with international business partners? 

If so, you may find that outsourcing all of your translation needs becomes less cost-effective over time. Here are some key solutions to consider.

The problem with machine translation

You may be thinking that machine translation is the clear, cheap option. But there are some key problems with machine translation that make it unsuitable for most business purposes.

The problem with machine translation is that it can often be too literal, and this can lead to problems with cultural awareness. It can also be difficult to understand the context of a machine-translated text, as the meaning can be lost in translation.

This is why human translation is often seen as the gold standard, as it can offer a more accurate and nuanced understanding of the source text. If you do employ translation services, make sure to ask about the qualifications of the translator and ensure they don’t use machine translation for your project.

Quality translations require cultural-awareness

When translating from one language to another, there are often words or phrases that don’t have a direct equivalent in the other language. This can lead to the translator having to make specific choices about what they think is the best way to convey the meaning of the original text.

This can be a particularly difficult task when translating between languages that have different cultural norms, as the translator needs to take into account the way that people in each culture think and communicate.

By handling your translations in-house and offering cross-cultural training and language training to your workforce, you can help to ensure that your company has expert human translators that are able to communicate effectively with people in other cultures and that all of your translations are accurate and culturally appropriate.

Language training services

One way to improve your company’s international communications is to invest in Business Language Training. While translation services can be a great solution for one-time projects, if your company has ongoing translation needs, it could be more effective to potentially promote in-house employees and invest in expert Business Language Training.

This can be a great option for companies who need to regularly communicate with employees, customers or clients in other languages, as it can help to ensure that your employees are able to effectively communicate in the target language without the need for translation.

It can also be a more cost-effective solution in the long run, as you will only need to pay for the training once, and then you will have employees who can offer their language skills frequently. 

By investing in your employees’ development, you are also sending the message that you care about their career progression, which can help to improve employee morale and retention rates.

Cost of Translation Services FAQs

How much does a translation service cost?

The translation cost will depend on the length of the text to be translated, the complexity of the text, the language combination, and the turnaround time. Generally, translation companies will charge by word or project, with discounts applied for larger projects.

How is translation rate calculated per word?

The translation rate is generally calculated on a per-word basis. This means that each word is individually charged, regardless of the length of the sentence or paragraph. This allows for a more accurate estimate of the final cost, as it takes into account the difficulty of the text and the language combination.

Is it better to restructure and handle translations in-house?

This will depend on your company’s needs. If you have a large volume of text to be translated on a regular basis, or if you have specific needs that need to be communicated carefully to other cultures, it may be more effective to handle your translations in-house.

However, if you only have a small amount of text to be translated on an occasional basis, or if you are not concerned with the cultural appropriateness of your translations, a translation service can be a cost-effective short-term solution.

Looking For a Better Way To Handle Your Translation Costs?

At SIMON & SIMON, we offer professional Business Language Training and Cross-Cultural Training to help companies improve their international communication skills. By arming your workforce with the tools they need to effectively communicate in other languages, we can help you to avoid costly mistakes and improve your company’s bottom line.

To learn more about our services, or to get started on developing your company’s language skills, contact us today.

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