Duration of a translation project: a behind the scenes look

Par Mediapilote | 3 April 2017 Duration of a translation project: a behind the scenes look

When a customer first contacts a translation service provider, they generally ask two questions: how much is the translation going to cost and how long until its ready? The answer: it depends! Unfortunately, there aren’t any ready-made answers for these questions. However, there are certain decisive factors that strongly influence the amount of time it takes to complete a translation project.

A translation project, what is it exactly?

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Contrary to what some may think, a translation project is not only limited to the pure translation of a document. There are certain preliminary steps that must be taken in order for the project to be properly handled. So, before starting the translation of a document, it’s best to first communicate with the client and attempt to better understand their expectations as well as to understand the purpose of the final document, the target audience, any possible specific items, etc.  Once the translation is completed, the project moves into the stages of post-production, like proofreading and revision.

Now you can see why the best translation service providers don’t just content themselves to translating your documents from the moment they are received. Rather, they will oversee and manage your project from A to Z, from the moment of its reception to its delivery.

What kind of factors will have an impact on a project’s timetable?

  • Resource availability

With the ongoing expansion within the translation market, the demands within the domain are constantly on the rise. Thus, the needed human and material resources may not be immediately available; in which case searching for those resources requires more time.

Furthermore, in cases of extreme urgency, multiple translators may be utilised for the same project in an effort to shorten the overall duration.

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  • Volume of the translation

It may seem obvious, but translators aren’t machines. Consequently, the more words there are in a document, the longer the translation will take. Just as an indication, a translator translates on average 2000 words per day.

  • Difficulty of the project

Some documents require more research into specific terminology than others. Therefore, a document based on a general theme will require less time to translate than, for example, the user’s manual of an air plane.

The combination of the languages also plays an important role.  Translating a document to a less common language, like Vietnamese, would most likely take longer than translating to English or French given that there are less resources available than for the more common language combinations.

  • Reference documents

You may not have thought about it, but reference documents (glossaries, translation memories, previous versions, etc.) can help save an enormous amount of time for the translator handling your project. So if you have any such documents, be sure to send them along with the project.

  • Supplementary services

Often, customers request extra, supplementary services: proof reading, SEO, page formatting, etc.  These steps may seem trivial; however each task increases the overall workload, and consequently, the duration of the project.

You may have realised by now that we are simply unable to give a clear and precise answer when it comes to the length of time required for a translation project in this article. But don’t worry, the project managers handling your requests will be able to evaluate the amount of time necessary for your project by taking into consideration all of the aforementioned elements. And one thing is certain, we’ll try to make every second count.


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