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Translation KPIs for Translation Management Success


Translation key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential management tools for goal-oriented enterprises, particularly those who regularly perform high-volume translations.

Do you source language translations in-house, through agencies or freelance translators? If so, this post will show you which translation KPIs to track and why. You can then use these to measure translation success or evaluate your localization process. 

Establishing translation KPIs will help you gain insight into how long translations really take. Additionally, it will tell you how many resources are consumed by specific translation activities, project types or team members. In effect, you can make adjustments to certain activities, workflows and teams in order to improve translation efficiency.

Here are the top 5 translation KPIs for measuring translation performance. We also provide tips for how to use them to achieve business objectives.

Translation KPIs: 5 Ways to Measure Translation Performance

Translation KPI #1: Average Post-Editing Time

One of the most important translation KPIs is average post-editing time. In other words, how long it takes human translators to edit your machine-translated texts to improve quality. Localization managers and professional translators know how important it is to track the time it takes to translate a text. It can impact turnaround time and create bottlenecks.

Factors that affect translation time

Lack of coffee might be the culprit of extra time spent on translations. However, a human translator’s speed is not always to blame. In fact, there could be some unidentified issues in your texts that require extra post-editing time. For example:

  • Errors exist in the text (grammar, typos, punctuation, layout, etc.)
  • Scanned documents require specific preparations for OCR translation
  • The style or tone is off
  • The text doesn’t use company-approved terms

Additionally, any of the following could be true:

  • Dirty TBX or TMX files are causing inconsistencies
  • Your company’s translation software is slow or difficult to use
  • The translator doesn’t understand the deliverables
  • Barriers exist between the translator and relevant contacts
  • The translator isn’t a good fit for the project

You will likely never discover these issues or their solutions without measuring post-editing time. In other words, this translation KPI will help you do three things:

  1. Identify and solve issues within the translation workflow
  2. Establish a set of publishing standards for your company
  3. Refine the translation process for maximum efficiency

Translation KPI #2: Number of Words & Segments Translated 

While translation KPI #1 can help you improve translation efficiency, KPI #2 can help you understand / estimate the cost of projects. You can get even more granular and use these metrics to gain insight into the cost of projects with specific attributes

Translation costs are often estimated by the number of words or segments translated (translation word count). This number is then multiplied by the translator’s rate. Therefore, the measurement of this KPI by project type can help you determine the average cost of translating a text by variables such as:

  • language pair
  • translator
  • project
  • file format
  • translation memory
  • department

This information helps you to:

  • discover which translators are performing best with which text
  • determine which types of translations are consuming the most resources
  • assign the right number and profile of translators to projects

Translation KPI #3: Number of Words in Translation Memories & Glossaries

Another useful translation KPI is the number of words in your translation memory or glossary. The bigger these repositories become, the less time spent on translations.

There are several more benefits to this KPI for translation project management:

  • Ensure your translations use company-approved terms
  • Build better brand consistency and adherence
  • Ensure consistency among similar texts and topics
  • Develop higher-quality translations
  • Never translate the same segment twice

You’ll find translation memories especially useful if you produce technical texts such as:

  • User manuals
  • Instruction manuals
  • Parts catalogs
  • Manufacturing guidelines
  • Case studies

These texts have an important purpose, and so it’s important to get the translation right. They also often repeat the same language — why waste time translating it over and over again? Make the best use of your time and budget with a glossary.

Translation KPIs can track improvements in quality resulting from your glossaries. You’ll be able to identify which memories need more work, and which ones are powering the best results.

Translation KPI #4: Translation Actions

Translation KPIs must also give insight into translation actions. An activity log within your translation management system (TMS) can answer the following questions.

  • What translation tools do different translation projects use? 
  • How many times do translators come back to the same project before it’s finished? 
  • Which translations need the most research? 
  • Do any particular steps slow a project down?

In other words, you’ll understand which activities are happening for each project. This translation KPI can help you:

  • Understand the workflow of your translators
  • Identify bottlenecks
  • Identify and track what issues come up most frequently
  • Create clearer guidelines
  • Make more efficient processes

Translation KPI #5: Translation Outcomes

It’s essential that one of your translation KPIs helps you measure the outcomes of your translation projects. This ties in with your overall business goals.

Here are important questions that help you measure translation efficacy and quality:  

  • Are your translations helping to bring in new customers? 
  • How much has your revenue increased? 
  • Has brand engagement improved?
  • Has training efficacy improved for multilingual employees? 

You should be tracking several data points that tie back to translation goals:

  • Site traffic on different pages and languages
  • Keyword rankings for different pages and languages
  • Click-through rates and revenue from different regions
  • Translation costs reduced through use of translation software

To track this data, consider integrating your computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool with content management systems that provide analytics data.

Measure Translation KPIs with Pairaphrase

At Pairaphrase, we are big supporters of performance and translation KPI measurement. Our translation management software gives you access to translation analytics that help you measure translation KPIs #1-4 while enhancing translation productivity. 

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