Comparing apples to apples – differences in professional translation approaches

As I sit down to write my next blog (and therefore keep my marketing team happy), my inspiration comes from a conversation I overhead from one member of my Sales team. “And are you comparing apples to apples there?”, I heard as I kept my head down, trying to mind my own business – difficult for a Sales Director who was believing that a large deal had been lost. Quite the contrary actually – the challenge on this occasion was that our price was cheaper than the other supplier and this was an area of concern.

What’s the issue?

Our industry is supposed to be simple – we all say we do the same thing – deliver high quality, cost effective and timely language solutions, so how can there be such a challenge to compare quotes for the same localisation solution? But perhaps we aren’t all proposing the same solution? The question I have to raise here, is that maybe we all have a different perception of the client’s brief, so it isn’t actually the solution that is the issue, but rather our differing opinions around the deliverable and expectation of the project.

Comparing quality

Quality has always been debated within the localisation industry, and no one has ever found the answer on how quality is measured. In recent months, Capita TI has really tried to address this challenge, and the subsequent comparison of apples to apples, be approaching localisation from a different direction.

Enough with the jargon already…

Rather than spouting off about TEP, T-Only, Machine Translation and Post-Editing, we have launched our new proposition around the expected deliverable. Do you really care what goes on behind the scenes to deliver your localised document, as long as it meets your quality and cost expectations? I make this comparison in the same way as buying a shed – do you care if a nail gun or hammer was used as long as the shed stays solid?

When we speak to customers now, we ask about the impact of the document, the expected deliverable of content and the target audience and purpose, rather than ‘do you want 1 linguist or 2?’ By gathering the key information, we then use our expertise to ensure the correct solution is deployed by us to meet those objectives in the delivery. Quality, cost and time will all influence the decision making process, but at least by being aligned in expected output, we know we are going to me our customers’ expectations – however we get there.

This concept is very aligned to my blog on ‘resistance to change’ – we’ve changed the way we process our localisation solutions, demonstrating that we are the experts and offering the advice needed to ensure you are not disappointed with your outcome.

So next time we say ‘Are you comparing apples to apples?’, it won’t be from a perspective of are both quotes for a two-linguist language solution (TEP) but rather, is the delivery output the same and aligned to your expectation?


Service Suitable For Impact Level Deliverable Content Examples Process / Workflow(s)
LOCALISED Technical High High quality, accurate translation localised appropriately for the specific content type, considering terminology and style. Software, Legal, Financial, manufacturing, medical 2 specialised, native linguists – TEP
Domain or client specific style guide
TM / Terminology / Customised MT
Marketing High High quality, accurate translation localised appropriately for the specific content type and adheres to on-brand messaging. Press release, eCommerce, travel, training, HR

2 specialised, native linguists – TEP
Domain or client specific style guide
TM / Terminology


Marketing High Fully adapted message in the target locale,  keeping the same intent, style and tone of the source language. Advertising, slogans, SEO

Transcreation or copywriting
Brand guidelines / instructions is a must
No TM or MT

LITERAL Technical Medium Message accurately transferred, but with no considerations on style / localisation Knowledge base, FAQs, Wikis, low risk technical content

1 native linguist – T only or PEMT Light
MT, TM / Terminology (if possible)

GIST Technical Low Enough accuracy to understood the general gist of the document. Legal (eDiscovery), online review / blogs etc (UGC), emails, internal Raw MT
1 native linguist – summary / specific items



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