How Many Translators Should I Use For One Project?

To keep clients happy, translation agencies attempt to deliver the highest quality work in the shortest amount of time. Clients themselves are often under tight deadlines, so providing their work in a timely fashion is incredibly beneficial. One way of getting work completed faster is to assign multiple translators to a single translation assignment.

In theory, a translation agency is only limited to the amount of linguists they have available for a given project, and could therefore assign, 20, 20, or 200 linguists if they choose. This means large assignments can be completed very quickly if needed. This practice is often utilized, especially for larger assignments, but there are certainly tradeoffs in using multiple linguists for a given project.

The biggest challenge with using a large number of linguists is the potential to introduce inconsistency in a document. Though using multiple linguists doesn’t guarantee that there will be inconsistency, each additional linguist added will increase the chances that inconsistencies may occur. Editors do a great deal to correct this, but even the most talented editors can leave inconsistencies in their work from time to time. As a Project Manager, I will always prefer to use the smallest number of linguists possible to avoid any negative consequences that may be caused from introducing inconsistencies.

However, when I am translating a large file, I almost never have the option of using a small number of linguists. It is therefore very important to assess client expectations on timeline at the launch of the project. If a client needs a 100,000 word document translated in 10 days, I will have no choice but to use 6-8 translators at the minimum. If I have 10 weeks to do the assignment, I will gravitate towards using far fewer translators.

For smaller assignments, I will only use multiple translators if it is absolutely necessary as well. If I have a 2,000 word document and the client needs the assignment the next day, then I will not assign 10 translators just so I can complete the assignment in an hour. I will use one to deliver the highest possible quality translation. Essentially, the best number of translators to use is the lowest number that will still allow the assignment to be delivered on time.

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