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Centralizing Language Services Saves Money, Improves Productivity, and Means Faster Time to Market

New report from Common Sense Advisory reveals key performance indicators for translation departments at global companies and includes metrics for language service firms.

Boston International businesses need translation in many different parts of their companies. They require language support for their global websites, marketing and sales collateral, support content, help forums, technical manuals, compliance documents, and human resources materials. As a result, several different departments end up buying language services from diverse suppliers all over the world. But does this make the most sense, at a time when budgets are restricted, and companies need to do all they can to save money?

New data from independent market research firm Common Sense Advisory confirms that the opposite is true: centralization of language services can lead to lower costs and faster times to market for higher volumes of translated content. The firm surveyed 226 respondents at global businesses that purchase language-related services. Most of these organizations reported that their spending on translation had increased from 2010 to 2011, in spite of global economic woes.

"Survey respondents predicted that 25% of their projects will be one million words or more by 2012," points out Rebecca Ray, senior analyst at Common Sense Advisory, and lead author of the study. "Projects of this size typically include 15 or more languages. Since so many translation tasks are outsourced, international businesses find themselves faced with huge scalability challenges and an almost complete dependency on their translation providers."

Key findings detailed in "Translation Performance Metrics" include:
* The cost of translation is minuscule compared to the revenue it can generate. Almost all firms reported that their cost of translation was far below 1% of total revenue.

* Key vertical industries are increasing spend on language services. Manufacturing, financial services and insurance, and health care all grew by more than 25%. Software and related services expanded by 18%.

* Size matters for language service budgets. Most organizations expected their spending levels to increase from 2010 to 2011. Companies with the highest revenue US$10 billion or more predicted the highest percentage increase (31.13%).

* Buyers of language services are counting on vendors to resolve scalability challenges. As clients continue to spend the majority of their translation budgets on outsourced services, they expect providers to help stretch their budgets to cover more languages and more content. They are also seeking support from vendor partners for centralization initiatives, project management, linguistic quality programs, localization engineering, machine translation (MT) integration, training, and community building.

* Project size and number of languages are trending up. Big projects (one million words or more) grew across almost all industries, regardless of content type. Survey respondents predicted that 25% of their projects would be one million words or more by 2012. Projects of 10,000 words or less in 2009 averaged 16 languages; in 2012, they were predicted to reach 20.

* Average turnaround time is one week or less. Sixty percent of respondents stated that their average turnaround time was up to a week, with the largest group claiming two days or less.

The 36-page report also includes:
* A set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that translation and localization professionals can use to build their own metrics dashboards to measure their operations.

* Correlations of buyer spending by volume, content type, project size, number of languages, number of projects, turnaround times, scope of responsibility, job title, and team size.

* The job titles and functional areas that have the most money to spend on translation.

* Why tracking average spend per project is just as important as measuring overall spend.

* How language service providers can leverage metrics to approach their clients as trusted partners instead of merely as vendors.

For more information, visit

About Common Sense Advisory
Common Sense Advisory is an independent market research company helping companies profitably grow their international businesses and gain access to new markets and new customers. Its focus is on assisting its clients to operationalize, benchmark, optimize, and innovate industry best practices in translation, localization, interpreting, globalization, and internationalization. For more information, visit: or  

Contact Information

  • Name: Melissa C. Gillespie

    Company: Common Sense Advisory

    Telphone: 978-275-0500 , -

    Address: Contact:
    Melissa C. Gillespie
    Common Sense Advisory
    Boston, MA