What Financial Executives Need to Consider When Choosing a Language Services Provider


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What Financial Executives Need to Consider When Choosing a Language Services Provider

Partnering with a Firm that Will Serve as Your International Brand Custodian

By Matt Hauser, Vice President of Technology at TransPerfect

Director of Finance Online - February 3, 2012

The word has come down from senior management – you need a language services provider (LSP), and you need one fast.

As more companies expand on a global level, they need enough knowledge to make the right decisions for their businesses when it comes to delivering high-quality global content in the most efficient manner.

As the financial decision maker, it is your responsibility to correctly evaluate potential providers to find the best one to meet your company’s needs and budget.

The importance of delivering localized content

Financial companies with operations in multiple markets around the world are in the majority, no longer the minority. People much prefer to be communicated with in their native languages, and your customers will appreciate your business if you can do so.

But selecting a partner who can help communicate compliance and regulatory issues can be tricky. Effective localization requires the skill of professionals who can pick up on cultural nuances and develop content for specific markets.

Not taking care in translating and localizing content can result in embarrassing mistranslations, which might result in more damage to your internal operations than not translating at all.

For all intents and purposes, you are not simply selecting a translation vendor, you are partnering with a firm that will serve as your international brand custodian. 

Because of this, it is of the utmost importance to thoroughly evaluate your options before beginning a localization strategy.

Here are the key factors for you to look for in a translation vendor:

Scope of company

What are your company’s requirements? Financial executives also need to consider budget requirements in relation to the following questions.

Does your provider need to handle all of your organization’s needs across all functional areas of the business? If so, assess the scope of the companies that you are considering. 

Having offices in local markets and access to a wide pool of specialized language resources can make the enterprise translation process much easier to manage.  You can also realize economies of scale by centralizing as much business as possible with a single provider.

Account management structure

Financial decision makers should ask many questions about how the communication flow actually works when considering a language services provider. Will you be assigned a dedicated account manager or project team? Who is responsible for managing the project, and who can you go to for urgent requests? Is your team available 24/7?

Are there local points of contact in different time zones for your in-country offices to work with if needed? How will the project management process work with an internal review process, assuming you have one?

It is even better if the LSP can provide a name for the person that will be heading up your project instead of a “TBD box” in an organizational chart.

Language quality control

This seems like a no-brainer, but all LSPs are not created equally. Financial executives need to be aware of external certifications, like International Organization of Standardization (ISO), which are important since they require third-party audits to remain current.

It is also beneficial to find out how a LSP actually handles its translations. Are they all handled in-house? If so, do they have subject matter experts on staff to deal with your specialized content?

If a company outsources the actual language work to freelancers, a common practice in the industry, how do they vet those resources to ensure high quality? What happens when a freelance resource underperforms in terms of language quality? What sort of ramp up process does the company use when signing up a new client? 

Are glossaries and style guides part of the standard methodology? Is your potential vendor using machine translation as a standard course of business and then simply editing with humans? Also, make note of what other clients the company works with in your industry or that have similar requirements in terms of process and content.

Technology utilization

Technology is becoming more common in the language services industry. To ensure that you are getting the best overall value and to reduce the amount of project management required on your company’s end, the use of technology should factor into the decision-making process. Does the vendor use translation memory on every project?

If you have existing translation memories, can those be incorporated into the vendor’s process?  What are the options for project submission and workflow?  Many firms – regardless of size – now offer some sort of portal type solution that provides a simple way to upload, track and download projects.

Does a vendor’s technology solution support other vendors (or even your own internal resources) in the workflow process, or is it a “captive” technology? What are the available options to integrate technology into your current systems and infrastructure? Is the technology offered developed in-house or is it from a third-party?

If it is from a third-party, who is responsible when something needs to be fixed? How customizable is the solution being recommended by your vendor?

Is it one-size fits all, or can it be tailored to your requirements now and in the future?  Put simply, does your vendor provide additional value to your process above and beyond language services by reducing your internal hassle (e.g. project management, IT dependencies, internal review, resource management, etc.)?

The above list certainly doesn’t cover every possible scenario, but it will give you an effective framework to use while determining your vendor evaluation strategy.

Asking these questions of any potential vendor will ensure you find a good match in your LSP from both a project management and budgetary standpoint. 

 



Matt Hauser is the Vice President of Technology at TransPerfect. A 10-year veteran of the localization/translation industry, Matt has overseen all facets of technology for TransPerfect Translations and Translations.com since 2007. In addition, Matt manages global sales for Alchemy Software.

 
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