KPIs for Translation and Localization Projects: What Should Your Company be Monitoring?

By United Language Group

You’ve identified a need to expand your company offerings to a new country or revamp your existing materials to better communicate with different audiences around the world. You’ve collaborated with your Language Solutions Partner (LSP) to define a scope, timeline, and plan for translating and localizing new materials to achieve your goal. You’ve performed your in-country review, and have approved your final project.

So how do you know the translation effort was successful after all that hard work?

By working with your LSP to determine Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) at the outset, you will be able to monitor effectiveness during the project and after the final product is completed. KPIs serve as both a point of comparison, as well as a way to keep everyone involved accountable for the project’s success.

Before choosing your KPIs, you will want to figure out what you need to learn. You also might need to choose multiple sets of KPIs for different stakeholder groups–your operations and finance team could be focused on translation cost, while your marketing team might be more interested in the increase in web sessions from the target region.           

Here are a few of the most common KPIs to use for a translation project and how they can increase your company’s chance of success.

During the Project

Starting KPI monitoring during the project gives both your company and your LSP an opportunity to assess what is going well and what changes might need to be made to improve efficiency and accuracy. A few KPIs to consider at this stage are:

  • Percentage of translation right the first-time / Error rate

How much of an initial translation did your company approve without needing edits? How does this compare to the LSP’s average and/or the average for projects that you’ve completed together? The error rate should be as low as possible, and decrease even more with subsequent edits.

  • Translation cost per word

LSPs can employ a few strategies to keep this metric low, too. Tools like Machine Translation can reduce the cost of translation by reducing the burden placed on human linguists, while also providing essential security measures that will reduce the chance of a costly data breach.

  • On-Time Delivery

Work with the LSP to create a timeline at the beginning of the project. Then measure how much of the translation adhered to the timeline. Was the project completed on time or ahead of schedule? Compare the initial and actual timelines to show the speed and efficiency of the process, and find the causes of any slowdowns.

After the Project

Determining the “success” of a translation project depends on the desired outcome. Usually the goal is to increase revenue, but other outcomes can include growing an audience in a new market or adhering to new legislation. Some KPIs to consider after the project are:

  • Number of new customers acquired in global markets

How many new customers and sales resulted from the translation project? Has your company’s market share in the desired region increased?

  • Web Traffic

For translation projects related to marketing campaigns or other information distributed online, measuring web traffic by country and by language can indicate whether or not a translation was effective. You might also find an increase in web traffic from unexpected places. For example, if you had a webpage translated into French to capture a greater share of a European audience, you might also find an increase in web traffic from other French-speaking countries like Algeria.

  • Translation ROI

Return on Investment (ROI) is perhaps the most important translation KPI. By how much did the translation project increase your revenue? And how does that compare to the cost of the translation? Translation ROI can be measured for both the short term and the long term and should be revisited multiple times after project completion.

KPIs for LSPs

LSPs should apply KPIs to their overall project load in addition to determining KPIs for individual projects. This can help LSPs find inefficiencies in their own process and use these metrics as benchmarks for individual projects or as ways to build trust with clients. LSPs should monitor:

  • Profit per translation project

How much money do new projects bring to the LSP? Does this differ across industries or types of project, and what new processes or efficiencies can be implemented to improve this number?

  • Overall customer satisfaction

What is the percentage of repeat clients? If clients are asked to complete reviews or feedback surveys, what are the quantitative and qualitative results from those? High marks for client satisfaction is one of the best criteria when choosing an LSP, and prospective clients should be comfortable asking about the LSP’s track record before choosing to start a partnership.

Effective KPIs help both clients and LSPs identify successes and bottlenecks within the translation process. Not sure what metrics you should be measuring? Contact United Language Group today to find out which translation KPIs your company should be keeping track of.

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