When Starting Translations

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before calling around to translation firms asking for quotes.

  • What are my goals?
  • What do I know about translations?
  • Within my entire organization, how big is the need?
  • What is the budget or other constraining factors?
  • What is important to me?
    • Quality
    • Cost
    • Project Turn Around Time
  • What is my translation program?
      • Project by Project
    • Selected Vendor

In regards to the last question, most customers of a Language Service Provider (LSP) are “Project by Project”. In other words, they have a list of LSP’s they will send a “Request For Quote” (RFQ) to. They review the quotes, and either by their gut feeling or the least expensive quote, they award the project.

The advantage of the Project by Project method is that it keeps the LSP’s very aware of pricing. In many cases, since LSP’s (like all businesses) want return business, Project by Project should provide high-quality translations at a competitive price.

The second program listed is of the “Selected Vendor”. This requires the client to ask itself the first five questions above. The client needs to vet LSP’s before sending an RFQ. It also requires the client to do some minor to major self-education of the translation industry, its tools, processes, and how to protect its investment in translated materials.

In the Selected Vendor philosophy, the LSP actually becomes a trusted partner; someone the client turns to for advice as well as performance. In this method, the LSP and the client traditionally agree to a fixed pricing structure in both translation and desktop publishing. This involves sending RFQ’s out to several LSP’s in hopes of getting a better price than before is gone. However, the time, resources and money wasted in being a Project by Project customer is potentially far greater than the cost savings hoped to be gained.

The bottom line to the Selected Vendor method is the following: Your boss looks at you and says, “If you had to select one of these firms as if they were doing work on your home, which one would you choose?”

Providing the client has done their homework correctly without hesitation only one quote will be pushed forward. If that’s the case they can breathe easily, they’re on the path of having a Selected Vendor, saving countless hours of wasted resources thus putting the company in a better position.

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