This is a very interesting discussion indeed!
I wanted to add a few things regarding outsourcing and software.
*Outsourcing translation* is not much different than outsourcing graphic design or development. Say you need to hire someone to design a logo, are you happy with just sending a brief, not talking to the designer and receiving a logo with little room for change? This is called low-cost graphic design and you’ll find plenty “your logo for $100” offers.
Likewise low-cost translation is widely available: you send a document, you don’t talk to the translator and you get a translated document in return.
Is this the level of quality you’re aiming for?
At Novius we prefer to build lasting relationships with both designers and translators. If you choose to work with an agency, chances are you won’t have much interaction with the translator. Which is a shame as good translation—like good design—starts with team work.
*About localization software and platforms*, we have used and tried many different solutions. Yet we still haven’t found THE perfect solution which would offer all the following key features:
* Collaborative translation and workflow. Translation like coding is a social activity. We need GitHub-like functionalities: comments, issue-tracking, version and quality control.
* In-context translation, as discussed above by Langurius.
* Translation memory. Don’t be mistaken, TM is not a translator thing. This is an important asset for your business. You want to be able to share it across different projects and export TMX files (Translation Memory eXchange).
* Translator-friendly UI and developer-helping tools (e.g. APIs)