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The Translation Market is a Services Market:

Translation is a services business. In the service industries, the closer the cooperation between the services provider and the customer, the higher is the quality and cost effectiveness of the service, and the better suited the service is to the customer's unique needs. Unlike the manufacturing industry, in which customers buy products made for a large number of generic customers (and hope the product suits their needs), in the services industry, providers and customers work closely as members of the same team in order to provide the customer not with an off-the-shelf product but with a service tailored to the unique needs of the individual customer. This is also true or should be in the translation industry as well. In order for the translation team to work effectively and produce translation which is high in quality and cost-effective, it is very important for all members of the team to be in direct contact and consult with each other when necessary. Although all roles played on the translation team are important, by far the most important role in the end is played by the translator, particularly when specialized skills and background knowledge are required. Thus, if communication between the customer and the translator actually performing the translation work is difficult or blocked, consultation between the translator and the customer becomes impossible. As a result, the effectiveness of the translation process is greatly degraded and the quality of the finished product inevitably debased. This is why, other factors being equal, in-house translation teams generally provide the highest quality translation. But not all companies can afford the expense of maintaining an in-house translation team. This is particularly true for companies whose translation needs are modest or irregular. Nevertheless, any company in need of translation services, can procure high-quality translation at reasonable rates merely by working directly with an experienced and highly qualified outside independent translator.

The Two-Tier Structure of the Translation Market: The translation services market has a two-tier structure, including individual translators in Tier I and full-service translation agencies in Tier II. In Tier I, translators work directly for the organizations they serve as part of a translation team organized and controlled by the client. In Tier II, agencies organize and provide the translation team. As noted on the Translation Process page, full-service translation agencies are best suited for clients who need large, inconsistent translation jobs done on an urgent basis. Independent translators are more suited for clients whose translation needs are fairly modest but arise on a regular basis and for clients who need high-quality, personalized translation services at competitive rates.

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