In-house vs. outsourced translation: Which is best?

So, your company is ready to expand overseas. Basically, you have two choices: create an in-house team or outsource to a firm that specializes in translation. But which option is best for your company? Before you sign up for something you regret, take a look at the pros and cons of both before making your decision.

1. Translation costs

A common misconception is that taking advantage of internal resources saves time and money. Unfortunately, there are a number of hidden costs associated with going in-house. Outsourcing translation to a language service provider (LSP) is proven to be much more cost-effective than recruiting, hiring and training an in-house team.

For example, volumes of content fluctuate constantly and substantially. A small team of internal translators can’t handle unpredictable swells, yet sit idle when work is slow. On the other hand, you only pay for the work that’s completed when you outsource to an LSP. Best of all, working with LSPs opens doors to cost saving techologies. Gengo’s translation memory, for example, leverages previous translation data to help you save up to 30 percent in costs.

2. Workflow management

Having in-house translators makes it easier to adjust to urgent projects or respond to last minute changes. However, projects vary in complexity, and can require additional project management, engineering and linguistic support. In-house translators are not usually expected to manage budget, project timelines, translation data or any other issues that come up during the localization process.

Project management comes as part of the service that an LSP provides. In this workflow, a dedicated team is accountable for project deadlines and delivery. Not only this, but project managers have the technology and process expertise to optimize the translation process for your project’s specific needs.

3. Quality control

Your company knows your content and offering better than anyone else. But at the same time, it may be tough to ensure quality with a limited number of experts working on translations. Being dependent on internal resources makes it difficult to adjust to different types of content. While your translators may excel at creating marketing content, web/app interfaces or technical documentation may be out of their scope.

LSPs, on the other hand, have greater access to specialists experienced in translating all type of content. While there is no absolute guarantee that your error margin will be zero (as quality is subjective), outsourcing translation greatly increases the likelihood that translation will make a positive impact on your audience. Extensive translation experience is a huge advantage, since it’s hard to build an internal teams that will encompass the same amount of expertise as an LSP would have.

4. Scalability

Managing translation internally is difficult to scale as the business grows. Working with an internal team means the pool of experts available to you is incredibly limited, so if your company decides to expand into new markets, it’ll be hard to acquire additional translation resources. You’ll also lack innovative technology tools you need to help you grow your localization program.

LSPs have access to a large network of qualified translators and provide support for many different languages, making them able to handle any amount of incoming content. With the help of an scalable translation partner, you can easily add new languages and features. For example, if you work with Gengo, you have access to 20,000+ pre-qualified translators to help you get your projects done in no time, at any time or day of the week.

So, which is best?

By now, you can probably see why localization outsourcing is necessary for most companies once they reach a certain size. Yes, you could handle the entire localization process yourself—but why bother? Choosing to handle the process in-house can be cumbersome and overcomplicated. By choosing to outsource, a trusted global partner can work with you to find the perfect solution and grow alongside your company, leaving you free to concentrate on your core business.

Ultimately, you don’t want to handle the process in-house if you lack the experience, time or knowledge. Working with an experienced partner can make all the difference in helping you achieve maximum return on investment on your international efforts.

Go global with Gengo’s people-powered translation platform.

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Alex Nguyen

The author

Alex Nguyen

​Alex crafts and coordinates content for Gengo’s marketing team. Based in San Francisco after a brief stint in Tokyo, she loves all things culture and design. When not at Gengo, she’s likely brushing up on her Japanese, letting loose at indie electronic shows or trying out new ice cream spots in the city.

  • Speakt

    Nice article.

  • Andrew Till

    Hi Alex – I like your blog! Also have an interest in Japan and ecommerce:

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