Should you outsource the production of your multilingual documents?

by Stefano Bernardi 6 minutes to read

Many tasks are outsourced in today’s economy to reduce costs or acquire knowledge.

Translation is the most common one for those working in an office that produce documentation.

It’s true that wise outsourcing can lead to efficiency, complete projects quicker, and cut down on costs. But should you outsource the production of your documents completely? What are the risks? How should you do it to achieve the best outcome?

In this post, I’ll guide you among the advantages and the issues you might face.

I’ll also share with you the solutions I generally teach to my clients.



Translating is an intensive task. It requires full attention.

For this reason, people’s time has to be allocated just to doing that – taking up resources from other projects.

Outsourcing lets your team focus on tasks more related to their core activities instead of focusing on translating.

Control labor costs

Not many businesses can afford full-time in-house translators, so hiring a translation agency allows you to add to your workforce in a flexible way.

It provides you with an estimated fix cost – allowing you to control your budget. Wondering about fair translation rates? Here is a translation pricing calculator to get an exact calculation.

Some companies outsource only the text translation and produce their documents in-house, while others prefer to outsource the entire production of the document.

Of course, the estimate is even more accurate when your vendor delivers a ready-to-print translated document – but most of the time, this is not the best solution for your company. I’ll tell you more about this later.

Certain delivery

Purchasing a service from third parties of course means also having a set delivery time. You’ll know upfront and with precision when the job will be completed, and you can plan based on that.

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Invite co-workers and translators to translate your InDesign files online. Change the language of your files without having to fix the layout again.


Loss of competence

When outsourcing you miss a good opportunity to develop competence that you might need in the future. Keeping specific tasks in-house could be an investment that will eventually pay off. While dealing with an accident, for example, you might need a specific competence that your team didn’t have the chance to develop.


You might have a very healthy relationship with your vendor, but you don’t control its time and you can’t prioritize the tasks that are important to you as you would do with an in-house team.

Time optimization

This is pretty clear. If you can’t control your vendor’s priorities and don’t have the competence, then you can’t optimize your processes and control the time it takes to get to your multi-language versions. This is true both with first-translations and updates/revisions.

Dealing with accidents

Marketing documents, as well as user manuals, or any other InDesign document, are ready only when they are printed. We all know that. We’ve all been chasing deadlines with last minute changes coming from everywhere.

Changes that happen after the documents are translated are big issues. Especially when you rely entirely on your vendor.

When was the last time you had to add a product to a catalogue that was already translated?

Wasn’t it a nightmare for you and your team to edit the same document many times just because the language was different?

Or did you just dump the issue on your vendor?

The cost of dealing with urgency and short time is of course high. Not just economically. In the worst-case scenario, your vendor might not even have the capability to shift other jobs and you might have to delay a market launch or accept a lower quality job. Here are the top 10 mistakes to avoid when producing documents in many languages.

Hidden costs

Besides managing the vendor, the most important costs of outsourcing are linked to accidents and lack of optimization.

We already talked about dealing with accidents before in this post.

Every day I speak with people that – because their company outsourced the entire production of the multilingual documents – don’t see what they can do to optimize their workflow and sometimes struggle to respect deadlines.

In a way, this issue is connected with the “loss of competence” I mentioned before. Because they don’t see what it means doing the job, they can’t understand what can be improved either.

They actually don’t think there is anything to do to improve their workflow.

Have you ever questioned the way you produce your multilingual documents? What if you could halve the development time and cut the costs?

The first thing you should do is analyze each step of your process and try to see if there is a better solution to what you are doing.

Are your documents translation-friendly?

How do you deal with changes and revisions?

What is your biggest pain?

The solution might be to improve your original document, outsource only the translation of the text and not the layout of the translated document or communicating better with your vendor.

You have to understand what you want to prioritize.

Do you prefer to give up flexibility, pay more, and wait more time but have the advantage of having the documents ready in the target language?

Or do you prefer to have your documents produced in less time and at a lower cost - but have to structure an efficient workflow beforehand?

It’s a tricky question, but actually, most businesses choose the first way because they don’t know how much of the translation job depends on them – so they don’t know what can be improved. Here is how to set up an InDesign file for translation and what to do before sending your InDesign file for translation.


It might not sound so weird for you, but it certainly was for me when I started talking to clients about handling their translation jobs differently.

Quality issues is the one biggest thing that people complain about when they contact me for help.

Terminology issues, sentences translated differently, and loss of font styles are quite frequent.

These issues are generally caused by a badly structured workflow, not translation-friendly documents or the use of the wrong tools.

You’ll find a couple of things you (or your team) can do to improve this here:


First step

The first step you should take is to improve the way your documents are produced.

That can be done just by using InDesign correctly and following the Tips I shared in the resources previously linked in this post.

Drop me an email or a comment if you want to make sure that your documents are structured correctly.

Second step

Next step should be deciding if you either want to produce your documents completely in-house or outsource this task. Here are the 5 best ways to translate documents.

You can outsource only the translation of the text or the entire production of the document.

As we’ve seen before, outsourcing only the translation of the text allows you to be more flexible and have great advantages.

Check the experience of a company that did it: “How Martini drastically reduced the time spent working on user manuals.”

Third step

Use a tool specifically developed to tackle these issues.
Try Redokun for free for 14 days – see how easy it is to create the multilingual version of your files using Redokun. If curious to read more, here is a more extensive explanation about our InDesign translation solution.

Stefano Bernardi
Stefano Bernardi

Stefano has worked on numerous mid to large–sized InDesign projects for Alstom, DeLonghi, Philips, and many others before starting Redokun in 2015.
As Redokun’s Co-Founder, Stefano spends most of his time helping customers to optimize their InDesign work-flow. He also holds in-house InDesign courses for companies in the Venice, Italy area.

19 Tips To Optimize Your InDesign File For Translation (Free eBook)

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