Translation Bottom Line: productivity, gross margins etc.
Thread poster: CLS Lexi-tech

CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 04:51
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
Oct 25, 2002

Where would I be able to find info on the industry as a whole and in terms of productivity targets for in-house translators? Would anyone be willing to discuss this issue, their past or present experiences?

Translation as a whole is a low-margin industry and this poses problems of production and overhead.

Thank you in advance for your attention



paola l m









[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-10-25 13:20 ]


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Arthur Borges
China
Local time: 17:51
English
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Margins Oct 25, 2002

Yes it is low-margin in Europe especially. As for in-house productivity, I heard one of the directors of Aerospatiale say in-house productivity was half of what it is in out-house translation, so to speak. I reckon 2,500 to 3,000 words to be a good achievable rate. What he didn\'t say, however, is that inhouse translators have the time to track down details which we sometimes have to skip, relying on direct feedback from the client. Oftenmost, my clients know the English jargon of their trade far better than I, and can save me HOURS of researching with a lead pencil and five minutes of editing.
[addsig]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:51
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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Something I found: Oct 25, 2002

http://www.issco.unige.ch/ewg95/node246.html



For the rest, you know my main experience in in-house translating has been congresses (and I believe you still keep a copy of my tongue-in-cheek discoveries from that period - I still go by them in terms of productivity). I\'m not an agency, though.



C.


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Patricia Posadas  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:51
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
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in-house or freelancers? Oct 26, 2002

Well, I only worked in-house for a few months, and yes, I admit my productivity was lower. Just as companies have overheads I feel in-house work has \'time overheads\'. You arrive at your place of work, talk a little to your colleagues, make a short coffee-break, spend some time on the phone and, in my case, quite a lot of time on the corridors waiting for people who were to give me info necessary for the work I was doing, etc. etc.



A freelancer goes through almost the same, but he is only paid for the time spent producing ... My customers don\'t pay me for having cofee with them, which I sometimes do!



One of the main reasons why I would employ in-house translators if I were an agency, would be that this way I can be sure of who does the work I have translated texts that someone else was asked to translate, not even being aware of it! This is particularly frequent when the person who gets the original assignment is paid a good rate



Not the type of thing I like, anyway.



All in all, I feel agencies should have in-house editors and proofreaders, but they dont\'t really need in-house translators who can become extremely expensive if one day they have no project to bite on ...



[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-10-26 08:24 ]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:51
Member (2004)
English to Italian
not always the best... Oct 26, 2002

I feel that it\'s pointless to have in-house translators and proofreaders unless there is a big and constat flow of work coming in. We all know that that\'s not always the case and the overheads in these times of \"calm\" can have devastating effects on the business. Also, the productivity is much lower, since in-house staff is paid when they go to the loo as well. Freelancers, on the other hand, are only paid when they actually work. My experience is that big companies with big work flows pay lower rates because of the enormous overheads they have. Personally, I would run a small agency, but I would never work in-house for an agency



Giovanni



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CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 04:51
Member (2004)
English to Italian
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TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your input Oct 26, 2002

If you think of anything else please let me know.

ciao

paola l m



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Roberta Anderson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:51
Member (2001)
English to Italian
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my 2 cents Oct 26, 2002

I worked in-house for a few years, although that was in-house for the sw house itself, and not a large agency. The in-house translator\'s job was to review external translations and do all DTP checks, translate the smaller, more urgent and more tricky bits and act as the 1st contact for freelancers\' terminology questions. It was also his duty to put together style guides, glossaries, etc.

But the bulk of the translation was outsourced. It was basically both cheaper and faster to split a large manual between 4 external translators working in parallel, and then reviewing the lot in-house.



Productivity (word translated per day) is higher with freelancers. I remember a max of 2000 words per day in-house, but I also remember that to stick to deadlines calculated on this figure I had to take my computer home and work from home... or lock myself in an unused conference room. I guess that says it.



The main value of in-house translators/editors/reviewers is to ensure consistent quality for large long-term projects for steady clients. This way the in-house resource becomes the \"expert\" who can then pass on information as required to freelancers (and this cuts down on the time required to relay queries from the freelancer to the agency to the client to the agency back to the freelancer).

Also (and here I speak mainly about sw localization, as it\'s about the only experience I have) with sw projects you often get (nearing the end) lots of tiny bits and pieces, all requiring a fast turn-around; in most cases it would be easier and more efficient to handle these in-house. Unless you can count on a freelancer who has had main responsability for the project as a whole and who will be able to accept these last-minute urgent-as-hell bits on virtually no notice.



On the other hand, the productivity of outsourced jobs on the whole decreases when you cannot have the same freelancers for different but related jobs (all jobs for the same client, say); the freelancer will need to check against more reference material, and the work will need to be more carefully revised in-house. So a quick translation turnaround might be penalised by a slower revision cycle. Of course the revision cycle can be outsourced too, and again productivity and quality depend on the ability to steadily use the same resources for related jobs. Otherwise, what you gain in productivity you end up losing in quality.



[but then, that opens up another issue: the economic advantage of productivity is pretty clear; how about the economic advantage of quality?... ]



Roberta


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