We are constantly getting calls from companies that are exploring the idea of using translation software for the first time. Usually someone in the company has been tasked with finding a software that will allow them to translate documents, internal company information forms or any other type of information that is a part of normal business communication.

The main reason they start searching for translation software is because they have actually went to a translation agency and gotten a better sense of the real costs of translating documents. So, after they recover from the sticker shock of having to pay about a dollar per sentence on average, they decide to look into other options. With today’s emerging technology, they know there are better and more cost-effective solutions out there that can help them translate their business documents without having to spend thousands of dollars.

Using translation software for the first time

One of the first questions I ask potential customers is if they have ever used translation software before. The replies vary but a lot of times they say they have had a limited experience with free online translators. This is actually good as it means they understand that software is not going to be 100% accurate but it will definitely give them an idea on what a document is saying.

However, when it comes to critical business documents, they want and need a program that will give them a better level of accuracy than any free translation program can provide. The great news is that when you purchase translation software you can definitely improve the accuracy by controlling the software or customizing it to make sure that it’s more targeted to your industry and its specific terminology.

Top ways translation software can save a company money

There are probably 1000+ ways software can save a company money but I’m going to go over some of the most common ways so it can help you determine if it’s a good solution for your company.

The first thing you need to know about software is that there are normally three ways that people use translation software successfully. Choosing between these three ways will help determine just how much money you can actually save.

  • Gisting Level – Instantly understand the basic meaning of a document.
  • Customized Level – Improve accuracy over basic gisting level. Additional dictionaries and choices are made on terms that may be ambiguous.
  • Publishable Level – Interact with the software to build dictionaries and customize it to learn your specific terminology both automatically and manually. Then use the post editing tools to proof the documents and ensure they’re accurate. Great for critical business documents that need a high level of accuracy.

Find out more about these three ways to save money on translation costs.

How much accuracy do you need?

For some companies translation software will just be part of the solution. For example, they may use it more for Gisting and Customized levels; now, if they are limited on resources for someone that is bilingual, then they may also have a professional translator handle anything that is critical and needs to be at a Publishable level. The savings can still be substantial because by using the first two levels you are in fact saving 100% on document translation costs.

If you’re trying to determine if software is a good solution for your company, first you need to take a closer look at the documentation that needs to be translated and see which level it falls into. This can vary from company to company. For example, many companies will translate employee manuals and communication and depend on just the customized level whereas in a larger company that also has a lot of additional resources, they may only want to go with translating an employee manual that is 100% accurate.

Which type of documents save you the most with software?

Here are four main type of documents that can save you a considerable amount of money when you translate them with software:

1. Internal communications – Many companies have foreign speaking employees at their location or in other branches that are located in other countries. Software can be extremely effective in helping you to communicate. With this level of communication, you probably won’t need more than a gisting level. Using human translators for this type of internal communication is too expensive and time consuming.

2. General documentation – Software is fantastic for understanding of e-mails, Word documents, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF and any other type of documents. Even if you are communicating with customers, there are many times when utilizing translation software can prove to be accurate enough. Many people have already gotten used to automated translation now and therefore a gisting level is perfect enough for them to understand a document.

3. Research – Many companies spend hours researching competitors, new products, industry related materials but what happens when they stumble into information that is written in another language? With software, you can easily surf the web in any language you’d like as you have the possibility to translate entire web pages in the language of your choice with just a few clicks.

4. Website translation – With SYSTRAN’s latest product – SYSTRANLinks – a company can instantly translate its entire website for customers or the company intranet and then use the collaboration tools to easily manage the project and proof and edit the content.

In conclusion

Software is not going be perfect for every situation. We often get calls from customers that think translation software will totally replace a human. Language is complex – the style of writing, the number of alternative meanings even for basic words, industry-specific terminology are all variables that make developing accurate translation software a challenging task.

However, emerging technology is allowing translation software to become more and more accurate every day. If you think about it, the level of accuracy that exists today was thought to be impossible to achieve just 10 years ago. While human translators will always be needed, many professional translators that are computer savvy are starting to realize just how technology is changing in their industry and how it can also help them save valuable time on translation projects.