In the age of big data, it seems as though there’s a systemized way to measure everything. Want to know how many hits you got on the company website? Go to Google Analytics. If you’re meeting sales projections? Log into SalesForce. Need to see how much progress the development team’s made? Visit GitHub. Access your translation data? Wait…

Hold on…

Translation data?

Translation is more than changing a website or brochure into one language from another. Like every other business tool with an actionable outcome, translation is a process to measure.

In any language, when you learn a product’s selling better in Market X than Market Y, this data gives leadership the chance to regroup and reprioritize. But, if you have no idea how well a product’s performing, and where, then marketing might overspend in the wrong areas – and you’ll find it impossible to optimize for more sales in those markets.

Translation is the same. But unlike sales data – which is so essential no one thinks twice about measuring it – many businesses overlook translation data when it comes to measuring your digital content’s performance. Perhaps it’s because you speak other languages yourself, so you think it can’t really be that complicated. Or maybe your company wasn’t international in its early days, so translation is now an afterthought. Some retailers simply have so many divisions that purchasing translation is siloed across the enterprise. It’s common for businesses to contract multiple translation vendors to handle all the content formats and languages needed. The more scattered and decentralized purchasing gets, the more error-prone and costly your translation will be.

You cannot manage what you do not measure. Having multiple translation vendors makes it easier for those vendors to keep you in the dark. Fixing this doesn’t mean you have to consolidate vendors: At Fortune 500-sized retailers, this isn’t always possible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t consolidate the data.

Traditionally, translation management systems have been tied to the translation company you choose. Many language service providers offer software platforms that they created or that they white-label from another provider. When you buy translation and your management tool from the same source, make sure you still own the data. And, make sure you have access to every data point that can help you make better decisions: Which parts of the translation process take how long (translation, editing, review, etc)? How much does each step cost? The right tool will also reveal which translators work more slowly and who makes the most errors. The next time a project lasts longer than it should, the right data will show exactly where the supply chain broke down.

If your translation management software comes from the same company that performs your translation, know they have a vested interest in keeping certain data points behind closed doors.

Unless you have full transparency, it’s impossible to improve the process. 64% of translators say they regularly redo projects that they’ve already translated. Why? Without access to data for visibility into your translation process, you’ll never figure out how to decrease the amount of translations being reworked, as well as the cost attached to that duplicated effort.

A typical answer is that translation errors are typically caught after project completion. Think about it: You’re talking to a project manager who talks to a translator who gives information to the project manager who talks to a proofreader, and suddenly the specifics of your highly important project become a round of the child’s game “Telephone.” A good translation management system cuts the cord and grants you fully-transparent, fully-inclusive communication at all times.

Translation data saves time, but most importantly it creates an objective set of benchmarks for content success. Data gives brands the chance to act instead of react. Stop dealing with the fallout from a process you can’t see. Control it.