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Financial crisis brings new reality to the translation industry

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The economic downturn is bringing a new reality to the profession according to industry insiders.

In a series of off-the-record briefings given to Communicate by leading figures in the Association of Translation Companies, a number of key changes appear to be taking place as a result of the economic downturn.

Financial crisis brings new reality to the translation industry

Unsurprisingly ATC members are reporting that it is becoming increasingly difficult to extract payment from clients. One industry insider said: “We had to turn away a job recently from a regular customer because they had failed to pay a long outstanding invoice.

“We felt we had no alternative, even though it might damage the relationship in the short term. Our view is that translation companies need to become tougher in their approach to debt control and you get no Brownie points being at the back of the queue should a customer go down. It is always the taxman that will collect before anyone else - certainly way ahead of translation companies!”

One positive trend that appears to be emerging is a refreshing spirit of cooperation between freelance translators and translation companies.

“I have been told by a number of our members that both sides of the profession are recognising that cooperation can reap rewards,” said ATC General Secretary, Geoffrey Bowden. “There was a time when freelance translators saw translation company owners as the ‘enemy’and, to a certain extent, vice versa.

“The ATC has always promoted the synergies that exist between TCs and freelancers and now that conditions are favouring the purchaser more people are seeing the benefits of working more closely together.”

A number of translation company owners have told Communicate that they are examining their systems to ensure that they are operating to maximum efficiency.

Investment in project management tools and other software solutions appear to be gaining ground with a number of ATC members. Some admitted that they had been putting off such decisions, but a cost benefit analysis approach is emphasising the benefits.

Overall the mood is gloomy though. Many translation companies spoken to by Communicate are worrying whether they will survive the downturn.


Published - April 2009

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