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Thread poster: Maciek Drobka

Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 00:43
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Sep 2, 2008

I thought 'Translation agencies' would be the best forum to post this, but I have no access.

Anyone seen the article below?

http://www.xconomy.com/boston/2008/05/28/why-isnt-lionbridge-king-of-the-globalization-jungle

Couldn't help a chuckle here and there. Looks like the business model just isn't working or what?

Have a nice read!

Maciek


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Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:43
Member (2002)
German to Spanish
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Be careful!!!!!!!!!!! Sep 2, 2008

"What they should probably be doing now is selling more in Europe and producing more in the U.S.”" (quoting the article

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Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:43
Member (2002)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Really interesting... Sep 2, 2008

“Every time they get a new project, they have to ask whether it’s worth ramping it into Logoport, or whether they should just do it on the side, since there is a cost associated with bringing it in,” says Sargent. “And some clients don’t want their stuff in Freeway. So many small projects are just run on an ad hoc basis.”

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Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:43
Member (2002)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Please, this one too, sorry for quoting but it is such an interesting comment.... Sep 2, 2008

"In addition to outsourcing directly to freelancers, Lionbridge also outsources most of its translation work to smaller agencies, who in turn outsource to even smaller ones. There can be 4 or more middlemen - each taking a cut - before the project actually reaches the translator doing the grunt work. Needless to say, it does not enjoy a wonderful reputation in the freelance world. The good ones don’t want to work for them, and most projects end up in the hands of unqualified “translators” who do shoddy jobs. Lionbridge then has to spend valuable UNPAID working hours to rectify the errors.
They’re in a bind because they can’t find enough reliable freelancers willing to work at the rates offered, and many of their clients don’t understand the nature of tranlation, treating it as something akin to ordering pencils for the Japan office. (This is partly their fault, because they also marketed translation as a commodity like any other.)"


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Quite simple... Sep 2, 2008

In Madrid, Lionbridge has an office in one of the most exclusive and expensive areas (I used to work in that office back in 1995 when the company was ME&TA, then bought by Bowne, who was later bought by Lionbridge).

They pay big rates for offices like this, making them look like a big company. They could easily move out of Madrid, to more cost-effective, more modern and better equipped business areas, but they simply prefer the luxury of the office in Orense street... something which is not specially good for their shareholders I fathom.

In my opinion, hiring tons of project managers, proofreaders, QA people, etc. etc. etc. will never make their translations particularly good ones. They need to understand that hiring a good translator at a higher rate really saves them a pile of money in personnel. But they never learn that, and prefer to enjoy this "big corporation" feeling... Well, let them continue to do so... as long as they can afford it.


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Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:43
Member (2002)
German to Spanish
+ ...
But I thought you were in favour of big corporations Sep 2, 2008

Tomás Cano Binder wrote:

In Madrid, Lionbridge has an office in one of the most exclusive and expensive areas (I used to work in that office back in 1995 when the company was ME&TA, then bought by Bowne, who was later bought by Lionbridge).

They pay big rates for offices like this, making them look like a big company. They could easily move out of Madrid, to more cost-effective, more modern and better equipped business areas, but they simply prefer the luxury of the office in Orense street... something which is not specially good for their shareholders I fathom.

In my opinion, hiring tons of project managers, proofreaders, QA people, etc. etc. etc. will never make their translations particularly good ones. They need to understand that hiring a good translator at a higher rate really saves them a pile of money in personnel. But they never learn that, and prefer to enjoy this "big corporation" feeling... Well, let them continue to do so... as long as they can afford it.


Zin acritú!!!
Is a joke, Tomás.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Another example... Sep 2, 2008

I know this company, specialising in medical translation, who is unable to pay good rates to translators ─I have asked them many times and am finally very reluctant to work for them until they offer higher rates─ but has a rather ample office in Madrid's Paseo de Recoletos, where big banks usually live, surely costing them a pile of money every month. They also like this "big company" ambiance, but are unable to hire good translators and their customers suffer the consequences.

Isn't it a pity that a specialised company with great associates and the chance of a great future ahead is losing actual or potential jobs and customers because they prefer to invest in a beautiful office downtown instead of choosing better translators?


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Corporations can also be mismanaged Sep 2, 2008

Felipe Gútiez wrote:
Tomás Cano Binder wrote:
In my opinion, hiring tons of project managers, proofreaders, QA people, etc. etc. etc. will never make their translations particularly good ones. They need to understand that hiring a good translator at a higher rate really saves them a pile of money in personnel. But they never learn that, and prefer to enjoy this "big corporation" feeling... Well, let them continue to do so... as long as they can afford it.


But I thought you were in favour of big corporations
Zin acritú!!!
Is a joke, Tomás.


Lionbridge is in my opinion a case of mismanagement and a corporation that simply misses the main point: delivering good translations. I am in favour of anyone who can deliver a good product or service and can advance technology and society, and don't mind if they are big or small.

After working in some big corporations (American Express, BASF, SPX), I know that big corporations can be mismanaged, the same way as small companies.


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Daniel Bird  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:43
German to English
Passing on the risk Sep 2, 2008

Seems that in many respects, except its own self-perception, Lionbridge is a risk management company rather than a translation outfit. Shifting the risk further and further down the subcontracting food chain until it lands on someone willing to take it on is a five-star way of blowing the margin. UNLESS, that is, a lesson is learnt from other industries (railways are a prime example) where the highest in the chain banks a premium, knowing that the subcon costs are otherwise likely to bust the deal. Wake up Lionbridge, there's a world of freelancers relying on you not to be so dozy.

[Edited at 2008-09-02 09:35]


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 01:43
Turkish to English
+ ...
Not from the text itself Sep 2, 2008

Felipe Gútiez wrote:

"In addition to outsourcing directly to freelancers, Lionbridge also outsources most of its translation work to smaller agencies, who in turn outsource to even smaller ones. There can be 4 or more middlemen - each taking a cut - before the project actually reaches the translator doing the grunt work. Needless to say, it does not enjoy a wonderful reputation in the freelance world. The good ones don’t want to work for them, and most projects end up in the hands of unqualified “translators” who do shoddy jobs. Lionbridge then has to spend valuable UNPAID working hours to rectify the errors.
They’re in a bind because they can’t find enough reliable freelancers willing to work at the rates offered, and many of their clients don’t understand the nature of tranlation, treating it as something akin to ordering pencils for the Japan office. (This is partly their fault, because they also marketed translation as a commodity like any other.)"


This comes not from the text itself, but a comment added to it. I think you need to make this clear.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:43
English to French
+ ...
I've only got one thing to say Sep 2, 2008

“What has happened is that the benefits of the efficiency gain that [you know who] has been able to produce through the use of technology have been handed right to the client”


When you're in the business of making money and you invest to become more productive, how does it make sense to hand all the benefits to the client? Is it just me, or this statement applies just as well to inexperienced, wannabe "translators" who "can English"? It's a quite disturbing parallel.

The good news is that what many of us are thinking turns out to be true: those who have no sense of business eventually go down. Somebody should be happy!

[Edited at 2008-09-02 16:40]


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