Hidden Costs of Choosing a Low Cost Translation Provider

March 28, 2013

Budgets are tight. We all feel the pressure to find the most cost effective services. Bottom line cost estimates are easy to compare across potential providers. Vendor quotes can be confusing if they bundle all of the services into a single price without providing sufficient detail. What if something goes wrong? What if there is even a small change to the content? What if the project is delayed or if the client reviewer is unavailable?


The old adage tends to ring true with localization services; you certainly get what you are willing to pay for. Because high-quality translation requires that you engage in a full formula of dependent variables. These important functions include a road-tested process, style guide and full glossary development, a detailed quote, and a commitment to high-quality results.

Proven process


I can't overemphasize the importance of having a proven process for creating high-quality localized content. The process must be well-defined, controlled and repeatable. For a website project for example, GPI employs a 14-step process to ensure predictable, high-quality results.


1. Review & Analysis of source website assets
2. Best practice multilingual workflow based on CMS
3. Project Kick-Off
4. Subject Matter Training and Research
5. Content Cultural Correctness Assessment
6. Glossary and Style Guide Development
7. SEO - Keywords Research & Localization
8. Transcreation & Copywriting
9. Localization of any Graphics
10. Localization of any Documents
11. Localization of any Multimedia
12. Basic Online QA & Testing
13. Search Engine Marketing
14. Launch Language Versions


Some steps are performed in parallel and the exact sequence of these steps can be modified to coordinate with your specific project plans and resources. If your translation agency has not defined the process in a well documented manner, or is missing some of these important elements, STOP!

Risking the brand


Risking the brandUndoubtedly, significant investments have been made in cultivating your brand voice, tone, and promise. Beyond simply translating the content from source to target language, extra effort must be made to ensure continuity across the localization process to retain these important brand attributes. Through creation adherence to style guidelines and the development of a comprehensive glossary, important brand consideration will be less likely to be "lost in translation". The cost of getting this wrong is potential damage to the brand on the global market.

Change orders


Nothing can increase frustration faster than learning from your chosen, low-cost translation provider that certain key elements were not included in the initial quote. Shortcuts can be taken by not using qualified linguists, eliminating important proofreading and editing cycles, or poor desktop-publishing. You might find that getting to an acceptable level of service and quality will incur the dreaded change order process. It does not take too many little changes or additional requests to quickly find your original quote to grow very large.

Doing it twice . . . or thrice


So you made the decision to go with the lowest bid. You have spent hours of internal resources managing the project and lining up reviewers. The localized content now sits in your inbox; freshly delivered from your low cost translation vendor. It is ready for final review.


The feedback is saddening, maddening. The original work took so long to get just right and the translated content looks and sounds well . . . completely foreign. Your reviewers refuse to sign off and for good reason. Your only choice is to start the process all over again. Now you're saddled with not only paying for the services again, but also an extended deadline and a reinvestment of everyone's time to get the project done. Wow!

In Summary

You have a fiduciary responsibility to try to get the most for your money. And sometimes this means that the lowest bid will actually suffice. If the lowest bidder has a strong reputation, a solid process and has made an effort to include all of the necessary services to produce a high quality deliverable, you are in good shape. Heed the warnings I detailed above. Ask a lot of questions. Don't be fooled by a vague list of services nicely packaged up into a tidy price. Do a little research about best practices and the best questions to ask. Make the agency explain why the charge for certain services and why they are performed in a particular sequence.

Further Information on Localization Resources


Globalization Partners International (GPI) frequently assists customers with multilingual website, document and software localization projects. A suite of globalization tools developed by GPI can empower you to achieve your multilingual project goals. You can explore them under the translation tools. GPI also offers translation services and internationalization, and can evaluate your application. Consider partnering with GPI prior to localizing or translating your application as this will help you avoid many mistakes and save considerable time and money on your localization projects.


To further understand the entire Globalization and Localization process, you should download our PDFs Language Globalization Guides. You may also benefit from our previous blogs:



To discuss your next website translation project, please do not hesitate to contact us via e-mail at info@globalizationpartners.com, or by phone at (866) 272-5874, or by requesting a free translation quote on your next website translation project.

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Daniela has over 16 years' experience in the translation, localization and language instruction professions. She holds a degree in Sworn, Literary, Technical, and Scientific Translation from the Instituto Nacional de Enseñanza Superior Olga Cossettini in Rosario, Argentina. Starting her career as a translator for English-Spanish/Spanish-English in 1990 over the years she has worked for several Localization Agencies as a translator, assistant project manager and senior project manager. She has completed a wide range of professional certifications in document and website localization with emphasis on translation, budgeting, quality control and project management including The Localization Institute’s Triple Certification in Localization Project Management (Localization Institute Chico, CA, USA). She has managed a wide variety of document, website, software and audio-video localization projects utilizing different Translation Management Systems (TMS), Translation Memory (TM) and I18n and L10n tool suites.