Tips for procurement managers: how to select a localization partner

By Acclaro
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How to procure localization and translation services

A strategically focused localization program is an important investment for your global business that can deliver significant benefits. Done right, localization empowers your company to more easily enter new markets, attract new audiences, expand your customer base, drive revenue, and increase profits. 

Choosing the best localization partner for your needs is key to the success of your program, which makes this one of the more important business decisions your organization will make. 

Start with a strategic focus

The best localization partner will have the right offerings to help your business meet its goals, wherever you do business around the world, now and in the future. So, consider your company’s globalization strategy, including:

  • Which markets are the most important for meeting your current goals 
  • Which markets offer opportunities for the future
  • Whether a shift in your market position is likely 
  • How your globalization goals might evolve 

Align with internal stakeholders

It’s likely that there are groups within your company already using localization and translation services. This may be a single centralized team or multiple groups spread throughout the organization. Understanding the needs of these internal stakeholders is important for the procurement process.

Work with these team members to answer the following questions:

  • What sort of localization services does your company need (software, website, marketing, etc.)?
  • What is the current annual spend on localization?
  • What quality standards are required?
  • What turnarounds are typically needed?
  • What technology do your internal teams use? 

Determine your selection criteria

Companies have different needs for localization and translation solutions, so there’s no one-size-fits-all set of selection criteria. Here are some tips to consider as you procure localization services for your company:

  • Look for a strategic partner—To get the most value from your localization spend and make sure your organization is meeting your globalization goals, you’ll need a partner that can deliver strategic, scalable localization solutions
  • Make sure both localization and translation are offeredTranslation is the process of converting text into another language while localization involves adapting the overall customer experience for different geographies, including both language and culture. For your company’s messages and offerings to truly resonate with audiences in new global markets, you’ll need to work with a partner that has expertise in both
  • Consider the breadth of services—The need for localization services will evolve as your company enters new markets and develops new offerings. So, it’s crucial to choose a full-service localization partner with a comprehensive set of services that can keep up with your business
  • Get the language capabilities you need—Look for a partner with language expertise in markets you’re currently targeting, as well as markets your company may want to enter in the future
  • Vet for Industry and subject matter expertise—Whatever business you’re in–fintech, pharma, software, or some other sector–it’s important to make sure that a potential localization partner has the necessary industry expertise to accurately translate your content. You’ll also want to look for expertise in the types of resources you’ll be localizing, such as marketing assets or elearning, for example
  • Make sure your volume and turnaround requirements can be met—Getting localized resources into your markets where they’re needed, when they’re needed is key for your globalization success. The right partner for your company will be able to handle the scale of your localization program and deliver on schedule
  • Look for a provider who will maximize your budgetA strategic partner can help your business make smart decisions about your localization investment, so that you successfully meet your goals within your allocated budget

Generate a Request for Proposal (RFP) if applicable

When you’re procuring localization and translation services, an RFP can be a good way to connect with potential partners and assess which companies have the experience, expertise, and range of solutions to meet your requirements. 

Of course, it takes time and resources to generate an RFP. If your localization program is small and your needs are fairly straightforward, it may not be worth the effort. Consider issuing an RFP if your:

  • Localization program is large in scale (multiple markets, many languages, large volume, etc.)
  • Total localization spend is a significant percentage of the marketing or other department’s budget
  • Localization needs require complex, specialized work (such as transcreation or translation of technical, legal, or medical information)

It’s important to be thorough when drafting the RFP, so that you gather all the information needed for the decision-making process. When crafting questions, here are some topics you’ll want to cover:

  • Background information: 
    • Years in business
    • Number of employees
    • Number of clients
    • If the company has a global presence
    • Attrition rate
  • Services: 
    • What services and languages are offered? 
    • What file types are supported? 
    • Is the company able to handle multimedia, voiceover, and transcreation work? 
  • Team members: 
    • Where are the company’s linguists located? 
    • How are they resourced,  trained, and assigned? 
    • What qualifications must linguists, project managers, and engineers meet? 
    • What does the team structure look like?
  • Partnership and accountability: 
    • How will the provider consistently bring value and optimizations to your localization program? 
    • How do they ensure accuracy, quality, and consistency across projects? 
    • How will they plan, process, and deliver at scale? 
    • What KPIs will they track and report? 
    • How will they ensure confidentiality and security? 

Take steps to vet potential partners 

No doubt your organization has established procedures for how you procure services, whether it’s by open or two-stage tendering, RFP, or some other method. As a procurement manager, you may not become involved in the search until later in the process. Once you are called upon, here are some tips for evaluating potential partners:

  • Learn about the provider’s language team—Request detailed profiles of the language team members who will be working on your account to assess their experience and qualifications, if they’re native speakers, and whether they have specific industry or subject matter expertise
  • Look for technology that can drive efficiencies—Technology is key for an efficient, cost-effective localization process, so it’s important to get detailed information about a provider’s capabilities:
  • Find out about billing and contracts—Translation services can be priced in several different ways, so ask vendors about their rates, payment terms, as well as how they invoice (method, frequency, breakdown of fees). You’ll also want detailed information about the provider’s contractual terms, including out clauses

The benefits of a strategically focused, full-service partner

An effective localization program can help your business thrive in the global marketplace—choosing the right localization and translation partner is the first step. 

At Acclaro, we take a strategic approach to make sure your organization gets the most value out of your localization spend. With our deep experience and wide range of services, we can help your company meet—and even exceed—your globalization goals. 

Get started to learn more about how we can help your company develop a winning localization program.

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