Here is a short, concise, step-by-step guide to finding a translator to meet your needs.
1- Clearly define what you need translated. The skills needed to translate a document are very different from the ones that are needed to live translate a speech. Be very clear on your needs, the size of the project, and what you expect the final results to look or sound like.
2- Set a timeline that meets your needs. If you have no urgent need, that’s fine, but put a final date on it. This will make sure that everyone has a guideline for what you need and when.
3- Look for a firm with native translators. This means that you want someone who lives in the target culture and speaks the target language every day. Someone who learned French from a book speaks a very different form of the language than someone who lives in the Pyrenees or the Central African Republic.
4- Ask for a plan. You should be provided with a plan on how the translation will happen. For example, most translation firms will use some form of machine translation for the initial work. This is a great way to speed the process, but it should be followed by having a human translator review everything. Subtleties, nuances and local vernacular are all different from country to country.
5- Ask for a project manager. If you’re having a single page translated, this might not be important, but if your project is to have a piece of software localized or have a corporate annual report translated, you will want a single point of contact that will take care of everything for you. This should be the person that you deal with. They should be able to speak to you clearly and easily.
6- Look for progress reports. Again, if there is only a single page being translated, you won’t need it, but a project of any size should have progress reports. This will allow you to see what’s happening on your project each week or so.
7- Satisfaction guarantee is a requirement. If the translation is all wrong or it’s delivered three days after you needed it done, you should be able to have a money-back guarantee. This is something that should simply be part of the company’s culture.
These are simple steps, but by using them you should do well finding a translator that you will have a great experience with. The actual locating part is a matter of using google and putting in “translation” and the languages you are translating to and from. Look for firm that is in or near the nation where your target language is spoken.