Making a centralised department that manages every translation work

Posted on Posted in Intrawelt, Translations

We recently conducted a mini-survey of some clients. Here are two results which I thought were very interesting.

Many large companies consolidate their translation needs in a centralised department. Through this consolidation and rationalisation, the company seeks to reduce costs. Every translation request goes through this single department which also manages the external relationships with Language Service Providers.

These centralised departments essentially become an internal supplier of translation services to their internal customers (overseas offices and departments).

We asked them which factor was most important to them.

46% rated the cost of the translation as the most important factor. If you add “On-time delivery”, then 60% of their focus is on project management: cost and time.

Centralised translation service: internal supplier
Focus on project management

Then we asked their internal customers – those overseas offices which actually make use of the translation – what they consider the most important factor.

Translation consumer
Focus on the result

The project management aspects are not nearly so important (totalling only 31%). Far more important was that the translation was accurate and well written (69%).

When creating a centralised department, therefore, a company explicity announces the tension between money and quality. Implicitly, it is pitting the internal supplier against the internal consumer who have demands which appear to be in conflict.

The demands of the consumer meet the constraints of the supplier
The tension between supplier and consumer

This tension is important and it would be naive to think that it didn’t exist. But it can only benefit the company if the system is truly in tension. That is, if both “money” and “quality” are exerting pressure.

If the centralised department succeeds in reducing costs to the point where the translations are poor quality, has anyone really won? Remember that a centralised department is also a monopoly and if this were to exist in the free market, there would be a regulator. So the company needs to provide the internal consumer with a method to send feedback to the internal supplier. And this feedback needs to form a real and important part of the overall system. It can’t be simply a “nice to have”.

A feedback mechanism, where data is collated, organised and reported, can highlight problems, opportunities and successes. A centralised department can use this data to reduce costs, improve quality, increase consistency and shorten project duration.

Only through a robust quality feedback loop can you keep the entire system under tension and only then will you see both lower translation costs and better quality. You can have your cake and eat it: you can improve project management whilst improving quality.

We know it can be done because we’ve provided consulting to companies on exactly how to do it: how to install a translation quality feedback mechanism that works for both your internal translation consumers and your centralised department.

If you’d like to know how to organise a centralised translation department with effective quality feedback, email us at and ask for our free white paper.