Regain control of your data with XLIFF

In this blog post, we will examine the question of whether the use of XLIFF leads to cost reductions for translations.

As we've seen lately, Adobe's FrameMaker 2020 release includes XLIFF integration. Content creators now also own translation configuration settings and translation workflows. Less work for language service providers (LSP) and translators? Time for price negotiations? Not quite! Let's see why...

Who does what in traditional translation workflows?

Translation of content is a widely spread need. Translation workflows range from short and simple to complex processs chains with multiple parties involved. Hence, the communication and configuration need along the workflow varies accordingly. No matter whether you - as a content provider - work with one or many language service providers (LSP): Content always needs to be created, exchanged and translated. International standards in the localization industry - such as XLIFF, ITS and SRX - facilitate data exchange and minimize communication needs. That's why Adobe has finally included them into the new FrameMaker2020 release. And that's why we at also embraced XLIFF and integrated XLIFF into our Data Conversion Service,

    In traditional translation workflows, the roles are defined like this:

  • Companies create their content and, as content creators, own their content.

  • The task and competence of LSPs is to configure the CAT (Computer-Aided Translation) tools and to set up, manage and continously adjust the data exchange workflows.

    LSPs take care of ensuring high-quality translation and on-time delivery.

  • The actual translation is performed by specialist translators who are selected and qualified by the LSPs for this task.

What changes with XLIFF? Does it get cheaper?

Working with XLIFF and similar standards eliminates the need for time-consuming and repetitive configurations on the part of the LSP. Time to celebrate reduced LSP invoices? Let's see ...

We addressed how XLIFF makes the difference in our first post on XLIFF and FrameMaker 2020. There we took a look at the benefits of using XLIFF for daily business in multilingual content management workflows. We’ve seen that the former black box of pre-translation processes such as tagging and segmentation of the data to be translated can be moved from the LSP to the content owner with the support of XLIFF.

Today, we'd like to take a closer look on the cost effects of XLIFF. We had indicated that working with XLIFF would reduce efforts both in terms of cost and time.

First voices in the translation industries have been raised. Questions have arisen on how and where the financial benefit would come into place. Behind this, perhaps, is the concern that clients will start looking for discounts on individual translation jobs from their LSP if they can deliver projects in XLIFF.

Where are the potential savings? What are the main benefits?

It has to be said quite clearly that the pure translation costs will not decrease. After all, using XLIFF does not mean that there is less to translate. The cost advantage comes from the fact that essential information for the translation process is in the hands of the content provider and can thus be transferred to the LSP without much communication effort. This involves, for example, the tagging of content that is not to be translated or the transfer of accompanying information in the metadata.

Companies thus additionally become process owners. Simply put, they can do whatever they want on their side: Change data structures, even formats and processes as needed. They always deliver the same interface format (XLIFF). The in-house changes do not affect the LSP. He always gets the same data format in the same way. He does not have to adapt anything just because processes, data structures and formats have been changed.

The risks and causes of communication gaps are thus enormously reduced, if not completely avoided. In addition, each LSP - including its tool - can be quickly integrated or replaced by another LSP in a company's translation process. From the point of view of the content-creating companies, this is an advantage because it gives them more data sovereignty for their translated content as well.

Of course, the introduction of new standards requires an initial investment of time and money. This also applies to XLIFF. But: Once a stable process has been defined and implemented, there is hardly any need for configuration at the LSP side in the future. If a new LSP comes into play, all the necessary configurations are already in place. This not only reduces the need for configuration at the LSP, but also significantly reduces the communication effort between content owner and LSP. Reconciling technical issues will thus be a thing of the past.

The savings potential clearly lies in a leaner, more reliable overall process from creation to translation to distribution with fewer queries, errors and loops.

Last but not least, stable processes not only reduce maintenance effort and thus costs. Stable and standardized processes are the ideal starting point for automation allover different departments of a company or even between different manufacturing sites or companies.

Who does what in standardized translation workflows?

    In standardized translation workflows, the roles are defined like this:

  • Companies create their content. In addition, companies now also take care of the structure definition, the metadata classification, and the desired configuration for the content and its processing in the CAT tools for translation.

  • The LSP acts as a consultant and brings his expertise to the configuration of the in-house process. He assists in setting up the initial XLIFF configuration in FrameMaker (or other creation tools).

    Once the process is set up, the LSP focuses on his core competencies: the selection of suitable translators, the on-time delivery of a quality-assured, technically flawless translation of the content.

  • The actual translation is performed by specialist translators selected and qualified by the LSPs for this task.

Welcome to the new world of translation - where strengths are empowered and weaknesses are compensated by intelligent workflows using acknowledged localization standards!

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