Whether you are a language service provider, a global corporation, or an individual translator, understanding and implementing the right KPIs for translation management can be a game-changer in achieving translation success. These metrics provide a comprehensive overview of translation performance, enabling data-driven decision-making and continuous refinement.
In this article, we will guide you through a comprehensive set of KPIs for translation management, designed to provide actionable insights for translation teams. We’ll examine these KPIs across four key dimensions: productivity, quality, cost, and process, providing insights into how to measure each of them.
Productivity KPIs in translation management are essential for measuring the efficiency and output of translation teams and individual translators. These metrics provide valuable insights into the speed, accuracy, and overall effectiveness of translation processes, enabling you to optimize workflows and maximize return on investment in translation services.
Translation output per hour
This KPI measures the average number of words or pages that a translator can translate per hour. It can be calculated by dividing the total number of words or pages translated by the total number of hours spent translating.
How to calculate: Total words or pages translated / Total hours spent translating
For example, if a translator translates 10,000 words in 5 hours, then their translation output per hour would be 2,000 words.
Translation turnaround time
A KPI that measures the average amount of time it takes to translate a project from start to finish. It can be calculated by subtracting the date the project was submitted from the date the project was completed.
How to calculate: Date project was completed – Date project was submitted
For example, if a project was submitted on January 1st and completed on January 15th, then the translation turnaround time would be 14 days.
Translation utilization rate
This measures the percentage of time that translators are actually working on translation projects. This KPI can be calculated by dividing the time spent translating by the total number of hours worked.
How to calculate: Time spent translating / Total number of hours worked
For example, if a translator works 40 hours per week and spends 20 hours translating, then their translation utilization rate would be 50%.
By tracking and analyzing these quality KPIs for translation management, managers can identify and address quality issues promptly, maintain high standards of translation quality, and ensure that translations effectively meet the needs and expectations of the target audience. This contributes to a positive customer experience, enhances brand reputation, and supports the organization’s global communication objectives.
Translation error rate
This KPI measures the percentage of translated words or sentences that contain errors. It assesses the accuracy and consistency of translations and identifies areas for improvement in translator training or quality control processes.
How to calculate: Number of errors / Total number of words or sentences translated
For example, if a translator translates 10,000 words and makes 100 errors, then their translation error rate would be 1%.
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This measures the level of satisfaction that customers have with the quality of the translations. This KPI can be collected through surveys, feedback forms, or interviews.
How to calculate: Average score on customer satisfaction survey
To measure customer satisfaction, you could survey your customers to ask them about their satisfaction with the accuracy, fluency, and cultural sensitivity of the translations.
Translation rework rate
This measures the percentage of translations that need to be reworked due to errors. This KPI can be calculated by dividing the number of translations that need to be reworked by the total number of translations completed.
How to calculate: Number of translations that need to be reworked / Total number of translations complete
For example, if a company completes 100 translations and 10 of them need to be reworked, then the translation rework rate would be 10%.
Effective translation management involves careful planning, resource allocation, and cost optimization to ensure that translation services are delivered efficiently and economically. The following cost-related KPIs for translation management help track and control translation expenses. You can use them to identify areas for cost savings, and make informed decisions about resource utilization and vendor selection.
Translation cost per word or page
This is the most basic KPI for cost, and it measures the average cost to translate a word or page of content.
How to calculate: Total cost of translation / Total number of words or pages translated
For example, if a translation project costs $1,000 and 10,000 words are translated, then the translation cost per word would be $0.10.
Translation budget adherence
This KPI measures how well the translation team is able to stick to the translation budget.
How to calculate: Actual translation costs / Budgeted translation costs
For example, if a company budgets $5,000 for a translation project and the actual cost is $4,500, then the translation budget adherence would be 90%.
Translation supplier costs
This KPI measures the total cost of all translation services, including vendor fees, technology costs, and internal labor costs.
How to calculate: Keep a record of all translation expenses
This KPI measures the amount of money that the company has saved on translation costs over a period of time. Companies can achieve savings by using translation tools, negotiating better rates with vendors, or leveraging internal talent.
How to calculate: Total translation costs in previous period – Total translation costs in current period
Translation cost per revenue
This KPI measures the percentage of revenue that the company spends on translation.
How to calculate: Total translation costs / Total revenue
For example, if a company’s revenue is $100,000 and they spend $5,000 on translation, then the translation cost per revenue would be 5%.
Translation process KPIs
These KPIs related to the translation process help translation managers identify areas for improvement, optimize processes, and ensure that translations are delivered on time, within budget, and at the highest quality standards.
Translation workflow efficiency
This KPI measures how efficiently the translation team is able to manage the translation workflow.
How to calculate: Number of handoffs between team members / Total number of steps in the translation process
You can assess this KPI by looking at the number of steps in the translation process, the time it takes to complete each step, and the number of handoffs between team members.
Translation tool utilization
This measures how well the translation team is using translation tools to improve efficiency.
How to calculate: Percentage of translation tasks that utilize TM segments
For example, if a company’s translators utilize TM segments in 75% of their translation tasks, then the translation tool utilization would be 75%.
Translation vendor onboarding time
This measures the time it takes to onboard a new translation vendor.
How to calculate: Average time from initial contact to vendor integration
For example, if the average time it takes for a company to onboard a new translation vendor is 2 weeks, then the translation vendor onboarding time would be 2 weeks.
In addition to the key KPIs above, you may also want to consider a few other metrics to improve the way you manage the translation process:
Translation localization rate
This KPI measures the percentage of translations that are localized for the target market. It can be calculated by dividing the number of translations that are localized for the target market by the total number of translations completed.
How to calculate: Number of translations that are localized for the target market / Total number of translations completed
For example, if a company has 10 translation projects and 8 of them are localized for the target market, then the translation localization rate would be 80%.
Translation compliance with branding guidelines
This KPI measures the percentage of translations that comply with the company’s branding guidelines. You can asses it by having a subject matter expert review translations for compliance with branding guidelines.
How to calculate: Number of translations that comply with the company’s branding guidelines / Total number of translations completed
For example, if a company’s branding guidelines emphasize a casual and conversational tone, the company would ensure that translations convey that same tone in the target language.
Translation compliance with regulatory requirements
This KPI measures the percentage of translations that comply with all applicable regulatory requirements. It is particularly important for companies that operate in regulated industries, such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and finance.
How to calculate: Number of translations that comply with all applicable regulatory requirements / Total number of translations completed
Let’s say a company translates medical device documentation. It must ensure that all translations comply with the relevant regulatory requirements, such as those set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company can calculate its translation compliance rate by dividing the number of translations that comply with FDA regulations by the total number of medical device translations completed.
The implementation of KPIs in translation management is not just a tracking mechanism but a strategic approach to elevate the entire translation process. By tracking these and other relevant KPIs, you can make informed decisions about how to improve your translation processes, reduce costs, and ensure that their translated content is of high quality. In addition to the specific KPIs mentioned above, you should also consider tracking KPIs that are relevant to your specific industry, business goals, and target audience.