The Four Stages of Translation Agency Growth. Stage Three – micro-SLV (Single Language Provider)

Stage Three – micro-SLV (Single Language Provider)

The first subcontracted project was an ad hoc decision when several projects’ deadlines coincided. The assigned translator was my first choice, my best choice, and my only available choice.

I was aware that I was fully responsible for ensuring the quality of the work. Therefore I reserved sufficient time to thoroughly verify the text provided by my colleague.

Of course, I earned less on this project, because I had to share the fee with my friend. But along the way I learned a few translation industry norms:

  • the verification took me about 30-40% of the time that I would have spent translating the text myself
  • two people should work together on a project in order to ensure the quality of the translation (translator and reviewer)
  • the reviewer should be more experienced than the translator
  • the first rule of the reviewer’s work is similar to the Hippocratic Oath – primum non nocere (first do no harm),
    i.e. leave everything that has been translated correctly as is.

In addition, I noticed that not all translators can correctly format the target text so that it is graphically similar to the source text. Customers often pay attention to the layout of the target text, because it can be assessed even without knowing the language.

This is why it is worth spending some time improving the formatting of the target text. This last element is probably less relevant for translators using CAT tools. Currently, the clean version of the translation automatically restores formatting compatible with the original.

Anyway, this “emergency assignment” with a colleague was a milestone in my business.

It confirmed the desirability of transferring more and more projects to good translators. And for me, it meant a gradual elimination of my role as translator. I had been devoting more and more time to the proofreader’s and editor’s tasks, as well as building a team of translators whose professional skills could ensure the expected level of translation quality was maintained.

I spent a lot of time evaluating sample translations and negotiating subcontractor’s agreements. In this way, almost imperceptibly, I started acting as a micro SLV company. And the company’s structure started to emerge, with the first departments outlined: Human Resources, Project Management, Quality Assurance.

I had a group of proven translators, but all texts were proofread and edited by me. The offered rates were higher than earlier (when I worked alone) but the customers appreciated the fact that two people were always assigned to each project.

But before delivery of the translation to the customer, I was proofreading, editing and formatting each file myself. The turnover of my micro SLV was limited by my work efficiency and was at least three times higher than my performance as a freelancer.

Unfortunately, this work model is not scalable. For this reason, the moment of the next stage was approaching.

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Jurek Nedoma
Jurek Nedoma has worked in the language industry for over 25 years. He is the founder and former manager of LIDOLANG Specialist Translations, which in 2015 was ranked the 16th translation company in the CEE Region (CSA Report 2015). In the period 2013-2015 Jurek was Treasurer of the European Language Industry Association (ELIA). Jurek Nedoma is also co-founder of the professional TMS software development firm XTRF Management System.
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