BURG Translations Blog

Should you hire a nonprofessional translator or a translation agency

Should you hire a nonprofessional translator or a translation agencyAs a translation company, we depend on professional freelance translators constantly. This article addresses nonprofessional translators and is specifically making a comparison between a nonprofessional translator and a translation company. Clients sometimes debate if they should use an individual they hear of (it could be a colleague, friend, or second cousin’s best friend’s girlfriend) to translate a document or go to a professional vendor. This article is meant to address this decision.

While you might pay less up front with a nonprofessional translator, you’ll likely end up spending more time or money than you would if you went directly to a skilled language service provider with your project. Here’s why you don’t want to go the seemingly cheapest route.

They may or may not be professional

The single biggest problem with nonprofessional translators is that you can’t always be sure how dedicated they are to their work. Will they quit your project at the first sign of a “real job” or take off for weeks without letting you know? Will they be there and ready to make edits if you update the document?

When working with a translation firm, you’ve got a certain amount of structure. You’ve got a project management system for taking your document as it is and returning it to you in the targeted language. You’ve got a point of contact who can update you at any time on where your project is in the pipeline. They respect your deadlines. And the translators are vetted, which gives you a degree of confidence in their ability to deliver.

The quality probably won’t be as high

When you work with a nonprofessional translator you can’t vouch for, you don’t know what kind of quality you’ll get. One translator might do a great job of translating lifestyle-type content, but might flail when you give her your technical medical product copy. This isn’t something you want to discover when your application to submit your products in another country is due. Also, humans make mistakes. So without an editor, some errors are likely to appear in the final version of the translation.

Translation agencies depend on a team: a professional translator, an editor, a proofreader and a Project Manager. Typically, translation companies also use SOFTWARE TOOLS to BETTER MANAGE costs, time and keep language consistent. While no two translation companies are the same, the value-add of a translation company is that they likely already went through the process of identifying high-quality professional freelance translators already.

It could take longer than you want

Nonprofessional translators could take longer to translate simply because they may be busy, or not be using industry tools, whereas a language service provider almost certainly uses all technology tools to minimize time, better control expenses and ensure full consistency. Moreover, they will always have a team of professional translators ready from the moment you approve a project. This tends to result in faster and more consistent translations.
If you attempt the translation in-house and don’t have a dedicated translator with the right tools, then you’re also competing against the deadlines on any other projects that person has on her plate.

They’ll be limited in their languages

If you only need a document translated into a single language, any professional translator with the vocabulary and time can handle it. But what happens when you want that same document translated into multiple languages? That same translator probably can’t help you. Then you have to find many translators, and you end up with multiple translations in different tones and styles, where you want consistency across all languages.
A translation agency can simultaneously work on all your projects to get them done faster.

That argument about saving expenses versus a more comprehensive approach? It depends how it turns out and whether or not you’ll ever need a translation again. With a language service provider, there are oftentimes cost savings due to the leveraged use of translation memory, legacy archives and time saved from not getting things edited or re-translated again. They’ve already done the work and found the professional translators we all rely on.

CASE STUDY: Reaching Key Opinion Leaders Faster by Leveraging an International Secondary Research Team

Reaching Key Opinion Leaders Faster by Leveraging an International Secondary Research Team

The marketing department for a medical device company needed help finding as many key opinion leaders (KOLs) as possible from across three countries to champion the company’s products. The KOLs were needed for regional sales and marketing teams to maximize sales quickly.

The challenge in this case was that the company had no support and a limited budget to identify and locate these KOLs. Moreover, patent protection time constraints and annual sales targets placed a great deal of pressure on the sales teams to successfully sell as quickly as possible. Finally, the information needed to find these KOLs across three different countries was in different languages. Given the budgetary and time constraints of this company, the client needed to choose a vendor with an alternative approach.

Analysis of Alternatives
Ideally, an international directory of highly influential doctors, organized by disease area or specialization, would be used to contact KOLs. However, the standard approach is to simply have a marketing agency track down each KOL and organize an interview for approximately $250 per contact.

When budget is a concern, a company can elect to have its own regional teams generate these leads themselves. However, this is burdensome and creates an extremely high opportunity cost since it forces employees to put their own tasks and goals on hold, creating a work backlog.

Given the budgetary and time constraints of this company, the client needed to choose a vendor with an alternative approach. The company came to BURG Translations to perform secondary research and find KOLs without incurring high costs.

Recommended Solutions
BURG Translations realized that since the purpose of finding KOLs was to sell to them, the net for finding KOLs should be cast wide rather than narrow. To maximize cost-effectiveness, two approaches were used to find KOLs:

1. Search through relevant conference programs.

  • The client provided names of conferences, as well as reference materials they had on relevant conferences.
  • The conference programs were procured, translated and sent to the client. Machine translation was used to help the client understand what was relevant. Human translation was then used for relevant information.
  • The client selected the appropriate KOLs in order to minimize budget impact. The KOL contact information was then researched and delivered.

2. Assign a separate team to simultaneously locate relevant research articles.

  • To reduce time spent on research, the client provided key terms to find relevant journal articles and a separate team simultaneously located these articles.
  • The research team procured journal information and titles, machine translated abstracts and sent them to the client. Human translation was then used for relevant articles.
  • The client selected KOLs in order to minimize budget impact, and the research team delivered KOL contact information. With BURG Translations focused on all lead generation activities, the client’s regional teams were free to stay focused on their own goals and tasks. Furthermore, in an effort to minimize budget impact, BURG Translations offered its services at an hourly rate rather than per KOL, resulting in a much lower cost/KOL contact rate.

The client provided BURG Translations with a list of conferences, programs, and keywords needed to find relevant journal publications. Using these data, BURG Translations identified documents and resources that would aid in selecting KOLs. Researchers delivered the translated documents as they were completed to minimize turnaround time.

Journal article titles and abstracts were machine translated and passed to the client for selection. The client then selected which journal articles and which conference topics were relevant. This is where the client had the most control over the cost of the project – the more articles and KOLs that were selected, the more time would be required to find the information. To manage the budget, BURG Translations researchers spent no more than 10 minutes per contact to retrieve three types of information:

  • Work address
  • Work email
  • Work telephone number

After the information was delivered, per BURG Translations’ standard operating procedures, the language service provider remained available on call in case the client requested additional guidance, clarification, and/or other services.

In just seven days, BURG Translations helped the client glean contact information for more than 100 KOLs, at an average price of less than $30 per contact. Specifically, the team delivered a database of 3,442 physicians including work location and proof of relevance. Of those, 167 were identified as KOLs with the remaining identified as sales-relevant sales prospects. We also delivered 289 relevant articles including author email and/or telephone number. This allowed the regional sales team to get an early start on scheduling appointments with KOLs, which is usually a very time-consuming task. The company was able to deliver KOLs to its sales team quickly and at a fraction of the usual cost ($30/KOL compared to the typical $600/KOL). Also, finding the KOLs accelerated the client’s ability to sell to other clients by four months.

Industry Application
Moving forward, the application to similar clients across industries is far-reaching. Essentially, BURG Translations has developed a new way of identifying KOLs for our clients at a mere fraction of the usual cost (BURG Translation cost is $30/KOL, while the industry standard is $600/KOL). Internally, it is important to note that some translators did not work as quickly or efficiently as others. In an eager move to offer a new service, translators often times still charged the same rate, but of course the quantity of output was different. More efficient translators needed to pick up where other translators fell behind. Since the deliveries were rolling, the delay was not noticed by the client. The use of spreadsheets to scope the tasks for the translators helped this process run smoothly.

About BURG Translations
Since 1936, Chicago-based BURG Translations has been dedicated to providing superior technical translation services across multiple global industries. As a privately owned corporation now in its second generation of ownership, the company offers a wide variety of language services to Fortune 500 clients ranging from prestigious medical journals, legal firms and leaders in biotech and manufacturing to new tech startups, universities, healthcare groups and life science organizations.
With more than 80 years of experience as a language service provider, BURG Translations has the expertise to integrate into your workflow, resulting in proven quality, lower costs, and reduced project turnaround times. The Client Managers serve as your sole point of contact and aid in finding key information in foreign languages faster by conducting online research on your behalf. Tight deadlines require you to work quickly to maximize your success, but the fact that key information is often found in foreign languages can slow down your workflow. We work as an extension of your team, identifying key information from a variety of online sources such as region-specific web searches, online files, country-specific search engines, key contact information and online databases.

More information is available at https://www.burgtranslations.com or by calling (800) 959-BURG.

CEO of Chicago-based Translation Services Company to Present at International Program in Miami

Angelo Passalacqua, CEO, will be a featured speaker at the 6th Annual Clinical Trials Innovation ProgrammeChicago-based BURG Translations, an international company specializing in technical translation services, recently announced that Angelo Passalacqua, CEO, will be a featured speaker at the 6th Annual Clinical Trials Innovation Programme in Miami at the Sheraton Miami Hotel & Executive Meeting Center on July 28 and 29. The event will feature 25 innovative thought leaders from around the world as key note speakers. Through strategic keynote addresses, themed tracks and dedicated networking sessions, attendees will have the chance to be educated about the latest industry trends, improve their company’s brand awareness, debut new products and solutions, and meet with new and existing clients.

“We are proud to contribute to this important event,” said Passalacqua, whose company specializes in translations for clinical trials. “BURG Translations has a solid foundation in partnering with pharmaceutical companies, clinical research organizations, institutional research boards and hospitals, and we look forward to sharing our insights with these key decision makers,” he added. “We are also looking forward to learning from our peers at esteemed companies such a Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Bristol Myers-Squibb.”

Passalacqua will speak about how to successfully partner with a specialist translations company. He is a certified John Maxwell Coach, ISO 9001:2015 Lead Auditor, Associate at the Higher Education Academy and holds a PhD in biostatistics from King’s College London and BSc in management from Purdue University. Passalacqua speaks English and Spanish fluently and maintains basic fluency in Mandarin. In his free time, he volunteers with Global Brigades, a charity he co-founded in London, as an executive board member.

Before joining BURG Translations, Passalacqua served as a management consultant for the healthcare industry, helping pharmaceutical companies price and valuate potential medication. He has also taught at King’s College London and the North China Institute of Science & Technology.

About BURG Translations
Since 1936, Chicago-based BURG Translations has been dedicated to providing superior technical translation services across multiple global industries. The company offers a wide variety of language services to Fortune 500 clients ranging from prestigious medical journals, legal firms and leaders in biotech and manufacturing to new tech startups, universities, healthcare groups and life science organizations. The key to BURG’s success lies in its more than 80 years of cultivating an elite corps of translation professionals. More information can be found at www.burgtranslations.com or by calling (312) 263-3379.


Melissa Garcia


Editor’s note: to receive a high resolution image, please email press@burgtranslations.com.

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