What do you need to know when choosing your translation supplier?

Deciding on a translation provider can be a difficult process. Since you have to trust your confidential documents to this provider, it’s fair to expect certain precise terms to be respected, including using the type of language your partners and clients have come to expect.

During the selection process of a LSP (Language Service Provider), the translation buyer must pay special attention to the evaluation of the supplier’s professional skills and attitude towards the client before deciding to award a contract and place any orders. Choosing the wrong provider may lead to higher costs, downtime and loss of revenue caused by market miss.

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Word of mouth

Word of mouth is a very useful way of finding out who are the best suppliers on the market. You can easily ask colleagues, friends, contacts at other companies and family if they can recommend a company, based on their own experiences.

However, it is important to resist the temptation to hire an inexperienced student from the local university or a colleague who offers to edit the output from Google Translate. Professional translators employed by translation agencies will be more expensive, but they are worth the money. That’s because they know the exact terminology and style to apply to your website content, your marketing documentation or your user manuals and they will deliver the work on time. Simply because this is their full time job. Needless to say that their selection, evaluation and other administrative aspects won`t be your responsibility.

Company profile

Before choosing a supplier, it is essential to study the company’s website, so that you can draw an informed  conclusion on the quality of translation and services this provider can deliver. Furthermore, you need to evaluate how well the company profile looks and reflects the company’s image. Sometimes simply verifying the existence of a landline or of a corporate email address could result in interesting things. A detailed and comprehensive profile will typically mean that the vendor will pay as much attention to your translation as to this presentation. Also, make sure you find out whether the company is specialized in the areas that interest you, such as IT, technical, medical, etc. A proven track record with relevant subject matter will be a plus.

Accreditation by third-party organizations

When choosing a language service provider, always make sure they are recognized by a local association that monitors quality and standards. Main certifications to look for include: ISO 9001, CAN/CGSB – 131.10-2008 and EN 15038. Of course, these are not mandatory, but if you care about your customers or you are part of your company`s global development efforts, you want to be sure that your time or your colleagues` time is not wasted with delays and endless selection processes.

Investments in the field of language services

This is a very important criterion when selecting a translation provider. You need to check if there is evidence that the company is making significant investments in improving the provision of language services. A company that invests in “added value” types of language services is generally better equipped to serve you, both technologically and in terms of personalized service. Yes, technology is an important part of our industry and we are not speaking  of course about Google Translate. There are multiple software solutions that could improve the speed, quality and costs of your translation projects.

Background and experience

You might need to look at the supplier’s case study portfolio, to check project volumes and descriptions, as well as key customers. A supplier who cares about quality should be able to provide case studies on projects from well-known customers. Pay close attention to continuous long-term projects, since by trusting their new translation with this supplier again, the customer confirms that they are satisfied with the previous work.

Check with your potential vendor to see if they have knowledge in your subject matter/industry. Without sufficient subject matter experience, this supplier may deliver a product of lower quality.

Find out how long this supplier has been active on the market. In case the company has been founded recently, translation experience may be insufficient for your needs. Also, a new small company may go out of business anytime. You need to avoid both scenarios, since for you this will mean lower quality or having to change your vendor along the way.


It is important to look at way in which prices are calculated. Usually, the best thing is to use a word-based quote, as it eliminates many unnecessary costs, such as paying for numbers and spaces, which do not require translation.

It is normal to negotiate the best price possible with your vendor, but please don’t put this on the top of your criteria. In our industry the quality is almost always obtained through continuous efforts, good and reliable linguists, project management and other related costs and the final price doesn`t reflect  only the simple process of putting a text into another language. It is the same as in your business.

Embarking on the selection of a new translation provider can seem like a great challenge. However, if you follow the guidelines described above for identifying and choosing the correct language service provider in a systematic and objective way, you are on the right track to overcoming this challenge. You can then focus on building a long-term relationship with that supplier that will help you develop  your business.

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