UPDATED MAY 21: Business documentation is a prime aspect of any business. From onboarding documents, to legal paperwork, to certifications, there’s a ton of ways documents are needed by companies. They convey instructions, sell your products, legalize agreements and keep operations between departments running smoothly. And, in 2021, as the influx of businesses have turned virtual, documents have become virtual as well.
However, when you are working with markets or employees that use different languages, it can be tricky to make sure everyone is on the same page. One way to keep everything running smoothly is to make sure you are translating your business documents well. Below are some key ways to make sure your business documents are getting the right message across in any market.
Using Professional Translation Services For Business Documentation
The most important part of the process is translation services. Business documents are too important to risk getting wrong. Translation errors in a business document could:
- Change the terms of a contract
- Mean a whole team is following wrong instructions on a major project
- Misrepresent a product in a new market, possibly even leading to a lawsuit
- Corrupt a marketing message in a way that offends people in a new location
- Cause communication errors between departments
In short, poor translation of business documents, especially without human translation, could disrupt the operations of your whole company and affect your bottom line. Document challenges can account for 21.3% of productivity loss, so it’s essential to do everything possible to mitigate against such ineffectiveness.
In order to find the best translation for your needs, a translator should have experience with the type of business documents you need translated, as well as background in your industry. Translation services have under their umbrella an international team of industry-specific linguists, who can handle whichever documentation the business needs.
This means that they will know the terms that your industry uses and how to translate any specialised language appropriately.
Your chosen services should also have a proven track record of meeting deadlines, since business documents often need a quick turnaround to keep operations flowing smoothly.
Make sure to vet any translation that you are considering using by undertaking appropriate due diligence. That means asking for references and reading plenty of online reviews. A good translation service should also be happy to spend time answering your questions in detail.
Plan How to Use Your Translation Service For Maximum Efficiency
Essentially, anything your business puts in writing may need translation. These documents would include:
- Technical documentation, such as software specifications
- Anything related to marketing: brochures, catalogues, website content, ads, sales letters, product descriptions, etc.
- Internal communications/legal documents: financial documents, contracts, presentations, manuals, reports, correspondence like letters or prolific amounts of email (thanks to the world’s 3.9 billion active email users!), datasheets, help files and more
- Digital content such as internal websites for employees
It’s important to have all these working parts organised, because that will help you select the most appropriate services for your particular needs. For instance, your marketing materials may need a translator with a marketing and transcreation background. Your software specifications may need someone with more of a technical background. And your contracts may need someone with a background in translating documents.
Bear in mind that you might need different translators for certain projects as your business evolves, as well.
Proofread Your Translations Through Your Preferred Service
Designate someone within the company who can look over the document after it comes back from your chosen translation service. This should be someone who natively speaks the language that the document has been translated into.
Ideally, it should also be someone who has a background in the type of document that has been translated. For instance, if it’s a software specification document, it should be someone in the IT department; if it’s an employment contract, you’ll need someone in HR to look over it.
The purpose of using an internal expert to look over your newly translated document is twofold. That person can review the document with a view to it making sense within your company culture. They should also make sure that the service does a good job of capturing all technical jargon.
The Specificities of Translation For Business Documents
Business documents often have many working parts to them. It’s important to familiarize yourself with them so that you can further vet the translation services you’re looking into. You may want to ask the potential translator how they handle the specific parts of the business documents listed below.
Unique terminology: Every sector has a wealth of industry-specific terms that end up in internal communications and technical documents. Each of these terms has a distinct meaning, which is often only clear to those with industry knowledge. In some cases, the meaning could only be known to employees of one particular company! Legal terms are especially tricky, considering they can have different meanings in different countries and jurisdictions.
Decent translation services will know these industry-specific terms and be confident in quickly identifying and addressing any terms only used within a certain corporate culture (which may need some explanation prior to translation taking place).
Figurative language: Typically, more technical or legal documents try to stick to the facts and use more neutral language. However, when you move into marketing-heavy documents or even light-hearted internal communications, language like idioms, metaphors and cultural references tend to feature front and centre. That’s where localization and a strong understanding of different cultures are key. What does localization mean in translation? It means shaping the translation to take account of the cultural needs and nuances of the intended audience.
Cultural differences: Similar to the point above, each culture has different types of customs that can baffle other cultures. For instance, in China, it’s customary to send red envelopes as part of New Year celebrations, which usually contain money. So if you were to send out a red envelope as part of a marketing or internal communications campaign in China, people might have other associations. It’s little traditions like these that might go past anyone without a strong localization background in that culture.
Confidentiality: Many business documents are of a sensitive nature, especially legal documents. Make sure your preferred service has some sort of policy for how it handles confidentiality, ideally with some type of legally binding agreement.
By taking all of these factors into account, you will ensure that you are well positioned to translate your business documents the right way and to get the most out of the translation and localization process.