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Optimizing Language Translation Strategies: Beyond Compliance to Enhanced Operational Efficiency


Emerging technologies in language translation are not just enhancing how businesses communicate internationally, they are also setting new standards for achieving operational efficiency and regulatory compliance. For instance, in Canada, the introduction of Quebec’s Bill 96 has highlighted the need for comprehensive approaches to translation; through this, organizations are increasingly recognizing the broader benefits of refining their translation strategies.

Amidst this shifting landscape, organizations face the challenge of navigating a vast volume of documents requiring translation, leading them to seek out cost-effective and streamlined approaches to translate documentation and communications.

The integration of machine translation technologies not only aids in addressing evolving regulatory frameworks, but also delivers significant improvements in translation speed, cost efficiency, and overall operational effectiveness. By adopting improved translation strategies, businesses can manage their language resources more effectively, and respond to internal and external demands with greater agility.


Four Key Challenges in Streamlining Translation Processes

Drawing from our experience in examining translation strategies, we have identified four (4) key challenges for organizations relying solely on human translations:

  1. Speed Challenges in Human Translation: The process of translating text by human translators is inherently slow and labor-intensive, especially when dealing with large volumes of content. Human translators typically handle between 2,000 to 3,000 words per day (How Many, 2023), depending on the complexity of the text and the need for research or specialized knowledge. Additionally, the manual process involves multiple stages, including initial translation, review, and proofreading, which further extends the timeline for project completion.
  1. Steep Cost of Human Translation Vendors: Relying on vendors that exclusively use human translation is costly at about $10,000 for 100,000 words (Types of Translations, 2024).
  1. Operational Inefficiencies When Using External Translation Vendors: Given the substantial volume of documents for translation, reliance on external manual translation vendors can give rise to operational inefficiencies, such as manual handling of documents and redundancy in efforts.
  1. Challenges in Managing Translation Memory: Translation memory is an essential digital tool that stores previously translated text segments, such as phrases and sentences, which can be reused in future translations. This technology is widely used to enhance consistency across translated materials and to reduce the time and effort required for new translations. However, the management of translation memory presents significant challenges when multiple translation vendors are employed. Each vendor may utilize different systems and adhere to different standards, which can result in fragmented translation memories. This fragmentation leads to inconsistencies and can increase translation costs, as there is no unified approach to accessing and reusing these stored translations across various projects.


An Approach to Streamlining Your Translation Processes

We have identified the following approach that can effectively overcome translation challenges and improve translation processes.

  1. Assess Current Translation Practices: Reviewing an organization’s existing translation processes can uncover valuable findings, highlighting areas well-suited for the integration of machine translation. This strategic assessment helps pinpoint where automation can boost efficiency without sacrificing accuracy, allowing for a smarter allocation of human translation to tasks needing a nuanced touch. Streamlining translation in this way not only advances compliance efforts but also optimizes resource use, ensuring a more agile and cost-effective translation framework.
  1. Build a Strategy and Operating Model Around Translation: Based on the translation volume and specific needs of your organization, a range of translation solutions should be considered. This includes options such as full human translation, Post-Edited Machine Translation, and raw machine translation. Factors such as volume, speed, cost, and content sensitivity should be evaluated to ensure an effective and efficient translation solution.
  1. Classify Documents: Given the massive volume of documents requiring translation and recognizing that not all documents hold equal importance, it is crucial to prioritize and categorize documents. Categorization may include formal documents like policies, procedures, and client-facing materials, as well as internally-focused documents such as job aids, playbooks, and training files.
  1. Implement Machine Translation Solutions On-Premise: Powerful engines such as DeepL, Systran, Microsoft Cognitive Solutions, and others, offer the option for organizations to store translation data on-premise. This feature allows organizations to harness the benefit of machine translation solutions while maintaining a full control over their data within their own infrastructure. Such solution could range from a standalone interface to translating text, spreadsheets, presentations, and other document types, as well as internal webpages. Integrating translation can be remarkably cost-effective, at approximately $20 for every 100,000 words (Types of Translations, 2024).

In crafting an effective translation strategy tailored to your business, it is imperative to thoroughly assess the unique advantages and practical applications of both human and machine translations, and the role each would play in your translation practices.


Machine Versus Human Translation Considerations

By integrating both human and machine translation appropriately, organizations can expedite the process and reduce costs. While human translation serves as a stand-alone translation solution, machine translation offers four types of sub-solutions that can be applied to various use cases. Ultimately, it is recommended that each translation use case be thoroughly examined to determine the appropriate usage of human translation vs. machine translation solutions.

Human Translation Machine Translation Solutions
  Human Translation Full Post-Edit Machine Translation Light Post-Edit Machine Translation Raw Machine Translation Third Party Language Machine Translation Solution
Content is manually translated by a person and thoroughly reviewed for accuracy, legibility, tonal consistency, grammatical errors and cultural adjustments.
Content is translated using machine translation technology and thoroughly reviewed by the user for accuracy, legibility, tonal consistency, grammatical errors and cultural adjustments.
Content is translated using machine translation technology and reviewed by the user for accuracy and legibility to ensure it conveys the meaning of the source document.
Content is translated using machine translation technology without being reviewed by the user for accuracy and legibility.
When a tool is procured from a third-party vendor, an out-of-box solution can be provided by the external vendor (language pack, subscription add-on, web-based browser plug-ins, etc.).
Use Cases
Client Communications
PR / Newsletters
Client-Facing Internal Tools
Meetings & Seminars
Client Correspondence
Frontline Publications
Frontline Communications
Departmental Material
Employee-Facing Internal Tools
Job Aids
User Guides
Internal Web Applications
Team Material
Ad-hoc Correspondence
Live Calls
Third Party Tools



Benefits of Incorporating Machine Translation in Your Language Translation Strategy

Machine translation solutions provide several important advantages that could enhance an organization’s language translation processes. Organizations can achieve greater efficiency and better prepare for future regulatory requirements. Some benefits include:

  1. Increased Speed and Volume: With machine translation, thousands of words can be translated instantaneously, whereas generally, the average translator can translate 500 words per hour. Machine translation may be the best translation solution for internal sites that are rather dynamic and have frequent content changes, such as intranet sites.
  1. Reduced Cost: Machine translation can significantly reduce translation costs for informal content and documents. Using machine translation as the first step of translation removes the need for a human translator to translate every word which is often the most time-consuming and expensive part of the process. The human effort is then concentrated on refining and correcting machine output, focusing primarily on errors that machines may make.
  1. Addresses Emerging Regulatory Pressures: Establishing a robust translation strategy transcends the immediate regulatory requirements introduced by Quebec’s Bill 96, while also laying a strong foundation that can be leveraged for potential future regulatory requirements (e.g. Bill C-13). The versatility of machine translation extends to various language pairings, providing substantial benefits to clients and employees where English or French is not their primary and preferred language.


A Final Thought

As we wrap up our exploration of optimizing translation strategies within organizations, a few key takeaways stand out:

Strategic Implementation of Machine Translation: The adoption of machine translation technologies has proven to be a game-changer. By significantly reducing translation times and costs, machine translation enables businesses to swiftly adapt their documentation and communication practices to meet regulatory requirements.

Balanced Approach to Translation Needs: The importance of a balanced translation strategy that leverages both human and machine resources needs to be considered. While machine translation offers efficiency and scalability for a broad range of content, human translation remains irreplaceable for high-stakes materials requiring nuanced cultural and linguistic sensitivity.

Future-Proofing Regulatory Compliance Through Translation Strategies: Beyond immediate compliance with Quebec’s Bill 96, establishing a robust translation framework lays the groundwork for future regulatory adaptations. This forward-thinking approach ensures that organizations are not only compliant today but are also well-positioned to meet evolving language laws and enhance accessibility for all stakeholders.


Optimus SBR’s Financial Services Practice

Optimus SBR is an independently owned management consulting firm that works with organizations across North America to get done what isn’t. Our Financial Services Group provides strategic advisory services, process improvement services, risk management services, and project management support to leading Financial Institutions, insurers, asset managers, and pension funds.

Learn how Optimus SBR can assist you in your journey to Bill 96 compliance.

Contact us for more information.

Carolyn Kingaby, Practice Leader, Financial Services


Works Cited:

“How Many Words Can a Translator Produce Per Day.” AZ World, 12 October, 2023. https://www.a-zworld.ca/translation-services-canada-blog/how-many-words-can-a-translator-produce-per-day/.

“Types of Translation Services Best Suited For Your Business in 2024.” Translate Press, 1 April, 2024, https://translatepress.com/types-of-translation-services/.

“Machine Translation Software: Top 5 Tools to Try (and Use) in 2023”. Phrase, 2023, https://phrase.com/blog/posts/machine-translation-tools/.

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