How to: Choose a Localization Vendor

Category: Translation Services

Choosing a localization vendor can be difficult. Wading through the technical jargon, scope details and pitches is a steep learning curve for the uninitiated. Some understandably skip directly to the most easily identifiable point of comparison: the price quote. However, that can be risky if your company’s brand, global product launch or multimillion dollar deal is tied to the localization effort.

Savvy buyers ask prospective vendors the right questions before they even get a formal proposal and evaluate the vendor’s competence and service levels during the sales process. By doing this, the company has an opportunity to predict its future experience with the vendor.

Read our five considerations for hiring a localization partner, before you even ask for pricing:

  1. Assess how much knowledge you or your company has with translation and localization services. Do you have a dedicated internal expert or team to coordinate the process? Are your marketers, developers or writers well versed in creating global-ready products and information? The answers will help you determine if you want a vendor to follow your direction or if you’ll need to lean on them for advice. Also, this point will determine whether you need a full service, on-stop shop, or if you just need to buy translation services piecemeal.
  2. Consider how you want the vendor to fit into your overall editorial or product development process. Understand your goals and ask the vendor how they would help you achieve them. You are choosing a partner who will play a key part in creating your international brand, ensuring timely global launches and participating in your overall success overseas. Make sure they share your vision and their process maps with yours.
  3. Take a very close look at each of the prospective translation providers. Meet with the firms key employees to review their approach to your plans. Then, choose a provider that fits well with your organization and goals.
  4. Determine what your partner can add. Even the most experienced companies have opportunities for improvement. Look for a vendor that will make suggestions to help you get more efficient. One of the many benefits of outsourcing is that you gain knowledge from shared experience of the industry and their other clients. Pick a company and then map out the entire process on both sides to look for opportunities to streamline operations.
  5. Based on your organizational needs, develop a clear understanding of the services you want from the vendor. Translation only? Multilingual formatting and desktop publishing? What about full quality assurance (QA) on the final product? Then ask the vendor to assess the scope (e.g., words, pages, graphics, etc.) and effort in detail. This will enable you to compare quotes with confidence.

This whole endeavor takes time and mutual engagement to define plans, volumes, deadlines, processes, roles and responsibilities. Your prospective vendor should act like a consultant helping you through this process. If the localization agency doesn’t get it – it’s unlikely to work out. Move on.