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Poll: Have you outsourced work without telling you client?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 19:21
SITE STAFF
Jun 12, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you outsourced work without telling you client?".

This poll was originally submitted by Henriette Iracabal

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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xxxdf49f
France
Local time: 03:21
a sin? Jun 12, 2006

I'm not sure what the point of this question really is...?

And the question is formulated in such a way that it makes it sound like it would be a sin or unethical to do so!

The ultimate responsibility for quality is mine, I want to make sure I keep my clients, so I make sure I deliver impeccable flawless translations (even if I have to redo the entire thing myself, but that's my problem/concern and not my client's).

Why would my clients care, or even want to know, if I outsource the work, as long as I deliver the high quality they expect (and I expect)?

regards - df


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Henriette Iracabal  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
purpose of the poll Jun 12, 2006

df49f wrote:

I'm not sure what the point of this question really is...?

And the question is formulated in such a way that it makes it sound like it would be a sin or unethical to do so!

The ultimate responsibility for quality is mine, I want to make sure I keep my clients, so I make sure I deliver impeccable flawless translations (even if I have to redo the entire thing myself, but that's my problem/concern and not my client's).

Why would my clients care, or even want to know, if I outsource the work, as long as I deliver the high quality they expect (and I expect)?

regards - df




Hi df,

I actually proposed the poll because I have done it several times and I never thought it could be wrong, unless obviously the translation was subject of a confidentiality agreement or something like that.

Sometimes, as you said, I had to edit/do the entire thing again, always ensuring the quality was up to my standards, as at the end of the day it was my responsibility, my name, my reputation.

However, I recently had a discussion with two other translators that were really shocked because someone else was outsourcing part of the job they were doing together, claiming it was extremely unethical. So, I just wanted to know what the general opinion about this is, if it is really considered so unethical or it is a regular practise... never wanted to make it sound at a sin.

Cheers,

H


[Editado a las 2006-06-12 20:16]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:21
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Depends a lot on the type of job Jun 12, 2006

I have one or two jobs that are definitely 'mine'.

This is less important where I have a Trados TM, but there is a certain amount of ongoing continuity, and I have worked out a particular approach with the clients. I would never outsource their jobs without telling them, and I make special arrangements if they are going to need translations while I am on holiday.

I have other jobs that I do regularly, where my personal style is not important, and I would happily outsource these. Probably I would tell the client, but as you say, quality and delivering on time would be my responsibility. I would never outsource to anyone I did not know personally and trust to do that kind of job well.

Normally, however, I tell the client I don't have time, and suggest that they contact the other translator. Colleagues have referred clients to me this way too.

The other typical scenario is that an agency asks me to do a job, and I say sorry, haven't time. They then find another translator or occasionally negotiate with the end client to extend the deadline, and come back to me.

If a client, especially a regular one, has asked me to do a job, then I let them know when I can't. I have never lost clients that way as far as I know. However, I do 'sell' myself on my style, so I have to take that seriously!

There are certainly jobs where personal style needs to be kept in the background, and with those I would not regard it as a sin to outsource to someone able to do the job well. But I always tell the client - it's a matter of trust.

Just my two cents...



[Edited at 2006-06-13 14:10]


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John Walsh  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:21
Member (2004)
Italian to English
I wonder why Jun 13, 2006

Henriette Iracabal wrote:
someone else was outsourcing part of the job they were doing together, claiming it was extremely unethical. H


[Editado a las 2006-06-12 20:16]

I wonder why they would consider it unethical.


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Ilde Grimaldi  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:21
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
in my personal view of freelancing world, this is much needed Jun 13, 2006

Hi
I've done that since my second month of freelancing, after in-house employment. In fact, being a former in-house "translator+editor+PM"* before, I was already used to assigning jobs, editing them and billing them, and I found it "natural". Anyway, this outsourcing in general is never more than 10-20% of my total translated words amount, also because translating it in the first place is more remunerative (100% of the fee to me). Besides, I like editing professionally translated texts, in particular when (as in the case of outsourcing) I buyed translation and can change it without any qualms (as in the case of editing jobs assigned to me by agencies: what will the reaction of the translator be? and that of the agency? Are these style changes?).

Some more considerations:
In general I don't tell clients I outsource their translation, but in the cases when it came out, they said they did not mind at all, as long as I assured the control of the delivery and quality (I guess as the end client was satisfied )*
Anyway in case of outsourcing, I often say "I pay a professional editor". Not always, but I do for example when I ask an higher rate then usual or when the text is very demanding and I receive compliments.

In general I don't outsource translation with much reference material, as it would be very time consuming to check if they chose what I would have chosen in translation memory or in glossary. I mostly outsource in three cases: - when the text is very demanding [Web pages, articles etc.], and two heads would anyway be better then one, - when I don't want to loose a new contact and I'm busy, - when I wish to accept a new job and I don't have free capability for exactly the whole amount of words.

In my experience and very personal view of our profession, outsourcing a small percentage of our job is essential to have an articulated flow of work and "many" clients. In my first month of freelancing in 1998, I just had a single client. When I found the second (with continous flow of jobs for a single end client each), I had to outsource to a trusted colleague some of it, as I wished to "have a foot in both camps [tenere il piede in due staffe]). As we don't have a boss and nobody is "regulating" our work amount (the work for eight hours a day, five days a week) and as it is good practise to have more then just two or three clients, you cannot say "I'm busy" too often, you have to "dose" that answer, let's say 3 times but not five, to avoid loosing that contact hardly gained***. "Outsourcing" (or teaming up with peers, for those who prefer this) is the solution [together with "flexibility", that is: more working hours in the evening, at night and in the weekend]

ciao
Ilde


*in fact in that agency the in-house-translator was also assigned the responsability of a single end client, and did whatever was needed, (from translating when word amount allowed that, to outsourcing that job to 10 freelance translators and editing it).

** One wrote literally "Actually I don't mind if someone else is also involved (either in the original translating or the proofreading), just so long as you have the main input "Ueberblick".

*** in fact, agencies have a database with many names; if you are busy and the second translator enquired delivers an acceptable job in time, my experience as a former PM says that next time, just in response to a psicological loss of memory, the last useful human resource is called

[Edited at 2006-06-13 11:51]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:21
English to German
+ ...
It's not like mom is writing your homework Jun 13, 2006

Translation agencies expect: top-notch quality and timeliness. How you do it, is your responsibility. I am forwarding a lot of jobs - due to lack of time or because the technical field is over my head.

What counts is the result. That's you are being paid for, nothing else.

PS. Whenever I notify an agency that I don't have the time, I am asked to put a team together instead. They never ask, who. This is trust and loyalty. It has become a silent agreement. Also, if the quality delivered would not meet high-end, it would be my problem. Overworked project managers like this. In return, regulars are overpaying me (rounding up monthly payments generously on a regular basis).

[Edited at 2006-06-13 09:58]


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 03:21
French to English
ITI recommendations Jun 13, 2006

From ITI recommended model terms of business:

"The translator shall normally be the creator of a translation unless the Client has been explicitly informed that the act of translation (the translation task) will be subcontracted, or the translator customarily trades as an intermediary."

Food for thought....

Sara


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:21
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Never, but I have my own system Jun 13, 2006

I have to distinguish between clients on the local market where specialisation is not exactly something agencies take into consideration, and the international market, which contacts me for specialisation. On principle I never outsource specialist jobs addressed to me for that reason.

On the other hand, the local Spanish market has seen very little specialisation: its history -- and even recently-instituted translator training programmes -- have conditioned it to expect everything from a jack-of-all-trades. An additional concern is that a local client usually has good reasons for wanting a local translator (CD delivery, telephone accessibility, less administrative paper [with respect to the Treasury, this is a big consideration]...). In this case, we have a local network tending towards specialisation (i.e., if X can do the job more accurately and faster, then X is the person you want, and I make the referral. Basic rates in Spain being what they are, and direct referral rates being lower than outsourcing rates, this makes more sense in terms of productivity and quality anyway).

The agencies I have been dealing with on these terms are very happy with the results. For a reasonable increment, they can get a doctor doing critical medical texts, or an engineer doing building specs. (Obviously, there are also agencies who back out due to budget constraints, but at least they get an idea of a "brave new world" out there).

Thus, even if local rates gave me outsourcing margin, I think I would still refer clients to specialists (and take jobs referred to me as a specialist), if only on the principle of "doing unto others..." I can understand the position of people who outsource, especially if the clients are informed. I just simply don't see myself getting more from the extra paperwork than from my normal translation activity when I've calculated the economic productivity figures.



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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:21
Flemish to English
+ ...
Passe-partout-words and food for thought Jun 13, 2006

Words like "unethical" and "unprofessional" are "passe-partout" words, which are used whenever it is convenient to discredit a competitor.

Translation is the business of the transposition of words and content from one language into another. Who makes the translation does not matter as long as the final product is according to the customer's wishes.
-
As long as business terms are not against the law, parties to a contract are free to convene anything they like and to do what is not written.
-
In today's business world everything is outsourced to sweatshops in low-wage countries, China and to Eastern-Europe.
Business and ethics don't always go together : ex.:
At company XYZ, a new CEO gets appointed, scraps a couple of hundred jobs, closes a plant and puts up a new one in Eastern Europe, because of lower wages. His final results rise and so do his bonusses and the shares of the company. The working man is in for it and the income of top-management and shareholders rises even more.
How "ethical", but who cares. That is today's business world.
-
Besides it all depends upon the role you want to play: outsourcer, translator or both.
Finally, some translations are so technical that they can only be done working in unison with a specialist.




[Edited at 2006-06-13 11:37]

[Edited at 2006-06-13 11:39]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:21
English to German
+ ...
Specialists! Jun 13, 2006

some translations are so technical that they can only be done working in unison with a specialist.


Thank you, Williamson!

That's exactly the point. I am sometimes outsourcing a list of technical tems which can't be found in dictionaries or ask for consulting regarding entire chapters. . I pay for it. If this is unethical, posting questions on proz.com would be as well.


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tectranslate ITS GmbH
Local time: 03:21
German
+ ...
Contractual Obligations / Confidentiality Jun 13, 2006

What nobody here so far seems to realize is that outsourcing might be against your agreements with a given client and put you in legal trouble.

For instance, our General Terms of Purchasing clearly state that documents and files provided by us must not be passed on to third parties, mostly for confidentiality reasons. All and any information, documents, inquiries or jobs we send to our freelance partners are subject to these terms.

Now here's some food for thought:
If we assign a job to you and you outsource it, you are legally in breach of contract and may be sued. After all, we provide our clients with a written warranty that none of their potentially confidential information is distributed to persons who have not agreed to maintain strict confidentiality.

For this reason alone it would be highly advisable to let the agency or direct client know what you're doing. Confidentiality is a serious issue and is taken way too lightly by many freelancers out there, I think.

Of course, exceptions can be made in agreement with us, provided that the "chain of confidentiality" is maintained. I can think of many situations where "double outsourcing" is a good solution for a given problem.

But apart from all of the above, third-hand translations have the clear disadvantage that the agency or client who picked YOU to do the job does not get a translation done by YOU. While you might go to lengths to ensure that the translation is error-free, it just won't fit your usual style, although your client would expect that.

The upshot of all this is:
Do tell your client.

If you're so sure your outsourcing is the right thing to do, then there can't be any problem with you explaining that to the client, right?

Regards,
Benjamin


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xxxdf49f
France
Local time: 03:21
thanks for explaining Jun 13, 2006

Henriette Iracabal wrote:

df49f wrote:
I'm not sure what the point of this question really is...?

I actually proposed the poll because I have done it several times and I never thought it could be wrong, unless obviously the translation was subject of a confidentiality agreement or something like that.
However, I recently had a discussion with two other translators that were really shocked because someone else was outsourcing part of the job they were doing together, claiming it was extremely unethical. So, I just wanted to know what the general opinion about this is, if it is really considered so unethical or it is a regular practise... never wanted to make it sound at a sin.


thanks for explaining - now I understand the why of your question.
PS: the "cilents" I spoke of in my earlier message are all my own direct clients (ie not agencies/ousourcers), which of course might make a difference in the discussion.

dominique


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:21
Flemish to English
+ ...
Does revision equal outsourcing. Jun 13, 2006

Nicole Schnell wrote:

some translations are so technical that they can only be done working in unison with a specialist.


Thank you, Williamson!

That's exactly the point. I am sometimes outsourcing a list of technical tems which can't be found in dictionaries or ask for consulting regarding entire chapters. . I pay for it. If this is unethical, posting questions on proz.com would be as well.


You are right: the engineer, who revises my technical translations does not work for peanuts either.. On the contrary, sometimes he costs me a third of the total value of a translation. But with regard to content, there should be no mistakes. He's the specialist in construction.
To what extend is "working together" outsourcing?
--
Yep, a while ago they picked me to translate a construction specification, but in the end the agency itself who had chosen the translators for the project came asking for the data of the above-mentioned engineer, because "armed with dictionaries and glossaries" the translators working on the project could not solve/translate certain terminology.
The agency even offered money for the terminology provided by the engineer.

Nowadays it's a very thin line between an agency and a translator. Anybody can put on his/her profile "outsourcer" and send a translation to the other side of the world.
Anybody, who is registered at the equivalent of Company's House can start cold calling companies and offer his /her services as a translator or as an agency
Once you have sufficient supply of work and some cash-flow to pay translators on time, it is not so difficult to evolve from "I" to "we". Wasn't TP an NYU-MBA-student's dormitory vision of translation and isn't it a medium-sized to big agency 14 years later, based upon the hub and spoke system.

Of course, you can tell the client. The fact that you work as a team can even be a marketing tool...

[Edited at 2006-06-13 14:31]


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 23:21
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
Different between collaboration and outsourcing Jun 13, 2006

I think it is okay for someone to be paid to proofread a job. It might be to the translator's advantage to tell the client that a proofreader was involved as this could sound like the translator went the extra mile to deliver a high-quality product.

I myself do not outsource any work, because I only accept as much work as I can comfortably handle. As they say in Chile: "El que abarca mucho aprieta poco", which roughly translates as: "Don't bite off more than you can chew".

Reed


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