18 Jan /18

Magic Triangle or Triple Constraint

Magic Triangle or Triple Constraint - EVS Translations
Magic Triangle or Triple Constraint – EVS Translations

“You can’t have it all!” – But approach the ‘triple constraint’ like this and you can nail your translated content

Finally, the account manager has prompted action from a prospect she has been networking and communicating with over the last 3 months. There is an e-mail with a request-for-quote glowing in her inbox.

She takes the phone, ready to get the ball rolling. The client picks up and makes the following project outline:

“I urgently need 10,000 words into approximately 12 languages (I‘m not sure yet) by the end of tomorrow and I need a discount because we don’t have much budget for this. And please make sure it’s excellent because it’s going into the public domain in a couple of months”.

The account manager, in her best account manager voice, replies calmly: “OK, thank you for getting in touch”.

Translation projects are not always straight forward, as both clients and Language Service Providers (LSPs) have to perform within different parameters. While some LSPs may compete through “rapid turnaround times at low-cost” or “high-quality, low-cost translation” these criteria may be irrelevant or unsuitable for your project. Cost, time and scope should be assessed so your translation project is steered in a direction that is realistic and focused on end-goals. Forward-planning, clear communication and a degree understanding of how translations are processed is always beneficial to nail a translation or localisation project.


Perhaps the languages services sector has created a rod for its own back. Promises of “quick, low-cost translations” or “low-cost, high-quality translations” are prevalent, but can also undermine the value of good translation and expert project management. We are all under budget constraints, but with the correct approach, costs can be managed and value can be added.

Head Content Projects and Innovation for the E-commerce platform Get Your Guide, Anne-Cecile Dousson-Lheritier spoke with slator.com about her company’s localisation strategy commenting that “translation quality is connected to customer satisfaction”. She also discussed what she perceived as a link with bad quality and lower conversion rates, as well as Net Promoter Score. Cost will always be a factor, but consider potential ROI and even the costs of future defect management if too little is invested in the process.


Timescales are another classic constraint. Translation is deadline driven work and clients need reliable deliveries. A good LSP will have its strategies for coping with bottle-necks as well as contingency plans, but there are also ways a client can help the project manager work against the ticking clock: suddenly notifying your provider of an urgent deadline rushes the localisation process and strains the ability to deliver quality on time. What is the reason for this rush? Could more forward-planning next time eliminate this? Likewise, changes to the source material during the translation phase also has the potential to cause complications and affect timescales. Try to have everything in place before translation begins, but let the LSP know straight away about changes or new content.


If you are using design files, time for feedback loops might be required. Equally, time for translator Q&A to address any issues in the source text could be beneficial on a large multilingual project.  The translation or localisation process requires planning so the LSP can ensure the content achieves its end goals. Good communication at the start between client and provider creates a clear understanding of the scope of the project but the provider should anticipate issues that could shift the focus of this triple constraint, including unforeseen circumstances that may arise (e.g. new content mid-project). They should be responsive and strategic enough so that the final content meets the client’s end goals, though a little help is always appreciated and sets up a great partnership.

The checklist:

Let your LSP help you to gain greater value through your content through proper management of your content over projects and languages. “Low-cost” options are everywhere, but does your content deserve more?

Though competing on rapid turnaround times can be used as a differentiator, don’t leave your translation request until the last minute.  Avoid unnecessary costs for example surcharges on very urgent work.

Suddenly realised you have additional content or need to change existing content, mid-project? Try bundle all updates in one go and let your provider know straight away.