Clients who are not used to working with translation services may wonder why translation companies charge minimum fees for small translation projects. Why can’t these translation projects be charged by word like in any other project?
One needs to understand that, regardless of the size of a translation project, a translation company needs to follow very strict processes which apply in all cases, whether these translation projects consist of 100 pages or just a few sentences. In particular, if you are dealing with companies that are ISO-certified, the requirements and processes which govern translation projects will be even more stringent, irrespective of the size of the project itself.
Translation companies charge minimum fees because there is much more to professional translation than word-for-word translating.
Below is a list of the different steps which typically take place when translation companies need to handle a new project. All of these steps apply, regardless of the size of the translation project itself.
- Analyzing the source text (text extraction and analysis for translation memory leverage);
- Communicating with the client to address questions or to clear potential pre-project issues;
- Preparing and generating a quote;
- Sending the quote and addressing any questions;
- Preparing translation packages (file conversion);
- Scheduling resources (calling translators and editors, at a very minimum);
- Assigning and monitoring resources (translators and editors, at a very minimum);
- Exchanging files with the translators;
- Communicating with the translators;
- Receiving files back from the translators;
- Sending files to the editors;
- Communicating with the editors;
- Receiving files back from the editors;
- If an in-country review is necessary, sending the files to the third-party reviewers and coordinating the review with them;
- Integrating in-country review changes;
- Updating the Translation Memories to include the new translations;
- Merging translations back into the source format;
- Performing formatting and desktop publishing (if applicable);
- Preparing the formatted files for proofing and QA (if applicable);
- Performing final QA;
- Delivering files to client;
- Invoicing and billing;
- Filling out all forms required by QA processes.
Due to regulatory reasons, these companies cannot skip or bypass any of the above tasks just because a project is “small.” ISO processes apply to all translation projects because errors are not limited to large projects. Errors can happen in small or large translation projects alike. Translation companies know very well that an error in a medical label of only a few words can have a dramatic impact for the safety of patients (for more information on this, click here). Similarly, a poorly translated slogan of just a dozen words can jeopardize the product being advertised and be detrimental to the advertiser.
Translation companies charge minimum fees because if they were to charge small projects per word, which is the norm for large projects, they would not be able to handle small orders. Quoting a project of 75 words (a label or a slogan for an ad campaign) by word, would imply a charge of only $10 to $15, which would not be feasible given the amount of time they spend managing translation projects and given the internal and external costs they incur. For instance, translations companies have to pay translators and editors minimum fees too, typically $25-$35 each.