5 Challenges and Solutions for HR Technology Translation

UNLEASHDiversity Inclusion2018 09 10
5 Challenges and Solutions for HR Technology Translation
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In the future, work will be even more automated, tech-driven and open than it already is. Automation will help employees do more with less, while globalization will open doors for partnerships across the world. Humans won’t disappear completely, but the ways we work and collaborate are changing rapidly.

For HR software companies, this new world of work is both a challenge and a set of opportunities. At Venga, we work with HR software companies in the process of expanding globally, setting up new localization programs and needing translated HR software yesterday.

Below, we outline some of the major challenges that HR software companies may face in the process of localizing their materials. We’ve also included our best practices for developing an agile HR translation strategy.

‘This Translation Is Awful’

Good, fast, cheap — pick two, right? A bad translation can negate all the benefits you were trying to achieve by getting something translated in the first place. HR technology companies facing a quick turnaround timeline risk sacrificing quality in order to have their translations finished and under budget. Hiring the first translator you find within your budget isn’t always the smartest choice in the long run.

Instead, HR tech translation needs someone familiar with the technical concepts as well as the nuances of local languages and customs. A linguist or translation partner who has these skills might cost more up front, but in the end you’ll likely save time (because the work is done right the first time) and money (because the translations will reach the right audiences and convey appropriate messages).

When preparing to localize, you want to find the right translation partner for you. The right fit, we’ve found, comes from a careful consideration of several factors, especially:

  • The content type and target audience. Knowing your audience helps you convey that to a translation partner, who in turn can select the proper language and context for your materials. High-quality, authentic-sounding translations can then drive user engagement and buy-in.
  • Your goals and expectations. A good translation partner will begin by first listening to what you have to say and asking what your objectives are. The more a translation partner knows about your choices and rationale, the better they’ll be able to produce translations that exactly meet your needs.
  • The right linguists for the specific job. Translating marketing materials is very different from translating technical texts, and a translator skilled in one area might not be the best fit for the other.

‘I Don’t Have the Resources to Scale Up’

HR software companies often start out with freelance translators or use an internal-translation model. In both of these cases, the process becomes harder to manage as you scale up.

A freelance model is appealing at first because a company can hire linguists just for what it needs. This can be cheaper than going with a full-service language provider if you have a small amount of content or just one or two languages.

However, once your company starts generating more content you’ll start to spend more and more time managing the freelancers and process. You also might not have the benefit of translation memory to store your past translated content, or the other efficiency and quality tools utilized by language partners.

An internal model is when a company uses the linguistic talents of its own employees to do translations. We see this most often with startup companies in their early rounds of funding. If your lead engineer also speaks French, why not have her translate your web content as well? At first this seems like a smart way to leverage your company’s employee assets, and this strategy can work for a while with a limited amount of content.

However, most companies that do this encounter one (or all) of the following problems:

  • Employees have to spend too much time on translation instead of the job they were hired to do.
  • A lot of the time, while these employees speak the language, they might not be trained as translators so you end up with quality issues.
  • If you expand to a country where you don’t have an employee, or the volume of translations goes up, you’ll need to bring in outside help.

There are a couple solutions to the problem of scale. One solution is to set up a relationship with a translation partner at the start to take care of the whole process for you, so you don’t overtax your employees or produce uneven content. The other solution may be a bit further down the road, but with the right buy-in and support from your team you can set up an internal globalization program office to run the entire process through.

‘I Spend Too Much Time Managing the Processes’

Since many HR technology companies start small and rapidly expand, maintaining efficient processes is the key to painless growth. Translation processes are one area that gets overlooked. For example, companies often create translated copy by copy/pasting content and emailing it back and forth. It’s easy for language to become messed up and lost in the transfer, and such a clunky process takes up a lot of management time.

There are ways to eliminate a number of these time-eaters, so you can spend your time on more important things.

  • Integrating your CMS or API directly with your translation partner’s translation management system (TMS) can save you valuable time and drastically reduce your error rate.
  • Automating where you can is also a great way of saving time. Three minutes here and there on file transfers adds up quickly.

Automation doesn’t actually touch the text at all, but instead eliminates many of the manual tasks required to prepare or transfer projects. For example, you can automate the transfer of text from a software UI to a TMS, the creation of new projects in your translation partner’s TMS, or the quote approval process. Automated filters can mean fewer hours spent preparing files and protection for your source code.

‘I Feel Disorganized and Overwhelmed’

If your HR technology company is planning to localize in the near future, chances are that you’re planning to draw on existing assets whenever they’re needed. If you already have a streamlined organizational structure and a centralized way to manage this translation, skip ahead to No. 5!

But if you, like many global software companies, are working with a whole host of regional offices, affiliate companies and language partners then you might have too many cooks in the kitchen. In coordinating all these offices, requests and translated materials, you may find that you’re repeating tasks, or losing track of documents, or that communication breaks down somewhere in the chain.

If your organization handles translation like this:

You may want to consider switching to a more centralized model:

Centralizing your translation efforts can help you manage this transitional time with grace and fewer headaches. It doesn’t have to be as complicated as establishing an internal localization department — simply designating a point person for all translation projects to report back to can be a huge help.

‘I Don’t Have Enough Budget’

High-quality HR translations don’t have to break the bank. The key is to work smarter and streamline where you can.

Here are five factors that affect the costs of translation. Adjusting the ones you can control helps you save money. They are:

  • The word count of your materials. Most translation partners work on a basic structure of cost/word. By narrowing down what really needs to be translated or not, you can cut your costs.
  • The tools your translation partner uses. Translation memory helps bring down costs and speed up the process by teaching the computer common words and phrases you use and storing them for future use. A TMS will help automate the process, but in some cases it can be overkill and result in a “lock in” situation.
  • Services included in the quote other than translation. Is your translation partner also helping you automate your CMS and translation process? Is it providing insights into your target audiences or helping you build a glossary? These services are incredibly useful, but you may not need them if you’ve already collected some of this data or can leverage your existing assets.
  • Your target languages. Depending on the market, some languages may have more available translators than others. You’re more likely to find an affordable Spanish linguist than a Hungarian one, for example.
  • Quality and strategy. Not all translation services companies will implement the same quality initiatives or walk through strategy with you. These additional steps take time and generate cost for the translation services company. If all you’re looking for is a short-term fix that throws content over a wall to have it come back translated, you’ll have a certain price level. If you’re looking at a partner that provides subject-matter expert translations or works closely with you on your strategy in order to improve your processes long term, you’ll likely have a different price level.

Prior to selecting a translation agency for your company’s project, contact one of its representatives and ask them to explain the pricing structure. At a reputable company, a representative will be happy to explain why their services justify their prices.

This content was provided by one of our UNLEASH sponsors.

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