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August 4, 2020

How to Choose the Right Translation Service Provider

When you have a new project, in which you have invested your time and effort, and you need translation or localization services, you have to make sure that the translation agency or LSP (Language Service Provider) that you choose is ‘the one’. In many cases, the international development of your project depends heavily on them and on a successful localization strategy.

Most likely you will have more than one project, different materials or ongoing translation needs, so you will be choosing a translation partner with whom you want to establish a long term relationship, saving you time, energy and headaches.

If you are in need of a positive and long-term partnership with a language service provider, keep reading our tips to find one you can trust – we know that the large number of agencies out there might be a bit overwhelming!


The first thing you need to know is that you have to be clear on what your actual requirements are, what do you need from your translator provider. If your LSP of choice knows them and it is the adequate, it will free you from pressure and time on your projects.


Here are 7 factors to consider when choosing a translation agency or language service provider:


1. Languages offered

Most of the time, depending on your target market, having an English version of your webpage or App is not enough. Figure out what are your linguistic needs, and look for an agency that offers them.

Some agencies specialize in specific target languages – although some also offer the possibility to cover additional languages – but there are agencies with multiple language vendors and experience in multiple fields.

Our advice is that it will be easier to manage a translation project into 5 or 10 different languages working with one agency rather than multi-managing and monitoring the work of different separate providers or freelancers.


2. Technical capabilities

Be curious about the technical side. Working with a language service provider that can use a wide range of software solutions and adapt to the particularities of your files can be a key factor determining the success of your project. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Do they use reliable and modern technology, like CAT tools?
  • Do they have the necessary software to process files in different formats – and deliver them back in your preferred format?
  • Are they able to work with translation memories, termbases and client glossaries if required?
  • Can they cope with the workload/volume and the deadlines you need?
  • Do they provide access to an easy-to-use platform or portal to manage the translations?
  • Can you track the status of the project in an easy and efficient way in a Translation Management System?

3. Project adaptability

If you have a very specific project – not the average Word document – the problem is: how do you know which is the best provider for your project?

Flexible providers will not have any hesitation to customize the translation process, adapt it to your complex project and put your mind at ease.

4. Quality

To make sure you receive accurate, quality translations be sure to check the following with your provider. The bottom line is – if a potential linguistic partner does not seem to meet your standards, their translations won’t probably live up to them either.

  • How they guarantee that your project is being handled by as few translators as possible (to ensure consistency)?
  • Do they require any specific qualifications to their translators?
  • Which is the process for translation - does it include proofreading and support during the implementation?
  • Do they provide specialized training to their translators?
  • How do they monitor the quality of the translations - is there any QA system in place?
  • What happens in case of complaints or negative results?

5. Reliability

If you aren’t choosing a provider only for a single particular project, finding an efficient LSP or agency is vital.

  • Do they offer more services apart from translation that might come in handy at some point (DTP, subtitling, voice-over, etc.)?
  • Do they have the right people on staff to meet your needs?
  • How long have they been in business – which is their reputation within the professionals in the sector?
  • Do they have any policies and procedures in place to ensure information security?

6. Price

No doubt here: transparency is key.

The most common practice in the industry is per-word billing. Consider the base pre-word rate and make sure that there are not hidden fees. Depending on the urgency or technicality of the project, some providers might charge a premium fee. Be ready to look beyond the per-word rate and do not forget about any other costs that might add up.

Do not be afraid to ask the questions here, as a reliable provider should not flinch when facing these questions.

  • How does billing work – which are the rates and wordcounts quoted?
  • Do they offer any volume discounts or price matrix for CAT tools analysis?
  • How does payment work – which payment methods are accepted?
  • Which are their payment terms to the translators?

7. Communication and After-Sales Service

Talk with your provider and try to find out if it will be easy to communicate with them, as you must be able to reach them just when you need to. The right provider will be pleased to support you every step of the localization journey and give their best advice.

  • Do they have a single point of contact or a project manager responsible for your project?
  • Do they show availability to join a call or videocall to discuss issues any time in the process – are they proactive?
  • Do they offer any kind of kick-start meeting – do they understand your requirements?
  • Do they follow up on the translations and accept feedback?

Choosing a language service provider can require quite a bit of research and in fact it might be a daunting task for many. A big part of your project’s success in other markets relies on them and with so much at stake, it can be hard to make a decision. But just like with other vendors or third-party services, the more you know about them beforehand, the more likely it is your relationship will be successful.


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