The 9 hidden costs of in-house translation and the benefits of working with a specialist provider

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Imagine trying to convey the essence of your brand to a global audience with diverse linguistic backgrounds. It’s more than just words – it’s about preserving the integrity and soul of your message across multiple languages. However, the pivotal question remains: is your message being delivered effectively and accurately? Although relying on your bilingual colleagues for translations might seem convenient, it is fraught with pitfalls. And far from being cost-effective, the hidden costs of in-house translation soon add up. So, it might be time for a rethink. Entrusting your translation needs to a specialist provider could be a game-changing strategy for optimising costs, boosting efficiency and expanding your global reach. Let’s explore nine compelling reasons why taking this step could be the catalyst for transformative growth.


Quote from a Chief Marketing Officer in white text against a red background that reads: I create and sign off all our German and English content.

As a translation buyer, you may be weighing up the pros and cons of in-house translation versus an external solution. Cost is likely to be a major factor in your decision.

Whether you’re currently enlisting the help of an in-house translation team, a bilingual assistant or a C-level executive, you pay for their time, benefits, workspace, and other resources. Not to forget the initial outlay for recruiting, onboarding and training your employees. Their salaries remain a fixed cost, regardless of lulls or surges in demand for translation.

This is where a specialist translation agency can help streamline costs. If you calculate your employees’ average hourly rate, you might find that hiring external experts compares very favourably. Plus, specialist translation providers offer flexible pricing options; you only pay for what you need, when you need it.


Quote from an Assistant to the Head of HR in white text against an orange background that reads: Sometimes I help out with translating contracts. This quote illustrates that lack of expertise could be one of the hidden costs of in-house translation and why working with a specialist provider may be the solution.

Navigating the art of translation often becomes a balancing act, where managing cost is just the first hurdle. But what about the proficiency and skill that this meticulous work demands?

Translation isn’t just a matter of converting words from one language to another. It requires a deep understanding of both the source and target languages, along with subject matter knowledge.

By opting to handle translation in-house, you may think you are making the most of your organisational knowledge. However, even if you have an in-house team of qualified linguists, they may not have the expertise to handle all your translation needs. Translating legal agreements calls for a very different approach to a marketing text. And mistakes can be particularly damaging.

A specialist translation provider has a wealth of experience to ensure that your content will be translated with the level of expertise it requires.


Quote from an In-house Translator in white text against a blue background that reads: I can’t figure out what needs to be translated and what doesn’t in this JSON file. This quote illustrates that lack of technology resources could be one of the hidden costs of in-house translation and why working with a specialist provider may be the solution.

Expertise not only comes in the form of subject matter knowledge, but also in proficiency with the tools of the trade.

Let’s face it. Not all file formats are optimised for translation. An Excel file is great for organising and calculating data. Not so great for editing text. Your colleagues might have to rely on painstaking manual methods to translate your content. This can lead to slower turnaround times and increased potential for errors.

A specialist translation provider has access to advanced technologies that allow them to handle a wide range of file formats. These include translation memory and terminology databases, QA tools, translation management systems, alignment tools, plus many more. Some of the benefits of these tools include storing content for future use, greater accuracy, and consistency across all your content.

However, these tools are a significant investment; one that your company may not want to make. A specialist provider has the infrastructure and the technology to make translation more streamlined, efficient and reliable.


Quote from a Product Marketing Manager in white text against a green background that reads: Do we transliterate that in Japanese? This quote illustrates that inadequate terminology management could be one of the hidden costs of in-house translation and why working with a specialist provider may be the solution.

Every industry has its own jargon. And many companies use terminology to differentiate themselves from competitors. Let’s imagine you run a business selling gardening tools. What’s the difference between a shovel and a spade? If you use these terms interchangeably, and your translators use two different translations for the same implement, or the same translation for two different implements, you could be digging a hole for yourself. How? With inventory management issues, misled customers and confused retail staff. And if you’re selling your gardening tools overseas, you could face delays at Customs because of discrepancies in import/export documentation.

If there are multiple Excel glossaries of unknown origin and dubious quality in circulation at your company, it’s time to call in a specialist provider. Expert terminologists create and maintain terminology databases to help ensure that your translated content uses the correct terms consistently across all your projects.


Quote from a Social Media Manager in white text against a teal background that reads: I'd love to help, but I'm attending a trade show this week. Can it wait until next week? This quote illustrates that time could be one of the hidden costs of in-house translation and why working with a specialist provider may be the solution.

Translation is a time-consuming task. And with overburdened staff juggling many other tasks, coupled with holidays and fluctuations in demand for translation, you may struggle to meet deadlines.

By outsourcing translation to a specialist provider, you free up your colleagues’ time so that they can focus on their day job. A trusted translation partner will have the resources and capacity to adapt to your requirements, whether that’s ad-hoc translation support or high volumes with tight deadlines.


Quote from a Web Developer in white text against a purple background that reads: DeepL will be fine for this. This quote illustrates that reputational damage could be one of the hidden costs of in-house translation and why working with a specialist provider may be the solution.

Brand managers know all too well how long it takes to build a good reputation. And how public perception of your brand can change in an instant. While a clumsy turn of phrase here or there might only raise a few eyebrows, a translation howler could cause irreparable damage. It’s worth remembering that large language models exhibit bias in the form of discriminatory language and stereotyping. Relying on tools built on these models, such as machine translation and AI chatbots, could land you in hot water.

As language professionals, specialist translation providers are familiar with gender-inclusive and conscious language, an essential requirement for any socially responsible organisation.


Quote from a Senior Legal Counsel standing in purple text against a yellow background that reads: Can't we just get the gist of it with Google Translate? This quote illustrates that lack of confidentiality could be one of the hidden costs of in-house translation and why working with a specialist provider may be the solution.

On the subject of machine translation, did you know that by using Google Translate, you’re consenting to Google processing, reproducing, distributing, publishing and publicly displaying your content? While no company thinks their employees would deliberately leak confidential information, accidents do happen. And with cybersecurity experts warning of ever more sophisticated hacking, phishing and ransomware attacks, your company’s four walls may simply not be enough to guard against data breaches.

Information security is perhaps one of the most underrated benefits of working with a specialist language services provider. A well-established provider will not only be clued up on GDPR, but they will also be familiar with secure translation productivity tools and file transfer methods. A truly savvy provider may also be certified to the ISO 27001 information security standard. Peace of mind? Priceless.


Quote from a Head of Brand Marketing in white text against a pink background that reads: I delegated that translation to my assistant. I'm not sure when it will be ready. I'll ask for a progress update. This quote illustrates that lack of transparency could be one of the hidden costs of in-house translation and why working with a specialist provider may be the solution.

Never quite sure who is doing what, and for when? Or how much time they’re spending? Working with a specialist translation provider comes with a level of transparency that’s hard to beat. Agencies usually provide detailed quotes, timelines and progress reports, allowing you to track your project every step of the way. Many even offer customer portals where you can monitor project status in real time. This level of transparency is often missing when relying on a colleague, whose focus may be divided among multiple tasks.


Quote from an In-house Translator in white text against a dark blue background that reads: I'm the translation department. This quote illustrates that lack of accountability could be one of the hidden costs of in-house translation and why working with a specialist provider may be the solution.

Perhaps one of the most important benefits of working with a specialist language services provider is the level of accountability they offer. Reputable agencies have strict quality control measures in place, including multiple rounds of editing and proofreading by different experts. What’s more, if there’s an error or an issue, an agency has the resources and procedures in place to correct it swiftly. On the flip side, if your translation department is a one-person show, the options for rectification in the event of a mistake are limited, and the responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders.


In summary, while handling your translation needs internally might seem convenient, there are significant benefits to partnering with a specialist translation provider. From unparalleled expertise to the integration of advanced technology, plus transparency, accountability and cost savings, the advantages are clear. Not sure how to find a specialist who would be a good fit? Our blog on selecting a world-class language translation and localization agency is a good place to start. The Association of Translation Companies is also worth a look. Why not contact us today to find out how you could benefit?

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