We recently received the following email from one of our European prospective clients: “Apart from the UK, we are currently active to varying degrees in a number of overseas markets including France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ukraine, Russia, Scandinavia, the Middle East and Australasia. Where translations have been required, we have hitherto conducted this activity in partnership with our agent resident in the territory in question.
While this approach has yielded satisfactory results, however, it has to be said that the timescales have generally been unacceptably protracted. This has been due, in part, to the fact that the translator invariably has other day-to-day responsibilities and cannot devote his or her entire attention to the task and to the rather haphazard approach they have to proof reading, which then combine to totally disrupt workflow on other projects.
Of course, not only does accurate and timely translation make good business sense, within the ever enlarging EC it is a legal requirement – albeit a rather poorly policed one – and I constantly worry about the implications of being found wanting in whichever territory we are failing to provide the correct documentation.
Having been responsible for technical publications service for twelve years, during which time I have made myself something of a tiresome burden with regard to this particular issue, it would be true to say that there has been a distinct lack of enthusiasm to pursue things in a more professional manner.
Recently, however, I have received approval to investigate the costings for translating our documentation. This is still a long way from where we should be and no promises are being made but perhaps it represents some cause for hope.
With this in mind and as a means of keeping the concept as high on the agenda as possible, I should be grateful if you would cost the attached operator’s manual. With this project being at such an early and, dare I say, tender stage I hope you will appreciate that I can offer little confidence that a real task will be immediately forthcoming. But if we don’t push it, nothing will ever happen until some EC apparatchik lowers the legislative boom on us and that could make the cost of translation look like very small beer indeed.”
I decide to publish his email almost in its entirety because it is very well written and it accurately represents the mood towards localization for many companies. It also confirms our writings in earlier articles and whitepapers when we suggested applying the following decision-making algorithm:
IF Localization_Cost < Opportunity + Liability
In short, always remember to factor in the liability component when making your case for product localization. It doubles your chances of doing what is right for your company and its clients!