As your business expands beyond borders, you're likely to encounter a myriad of challenges. One that often flies under the radar, yet is crucial to your international success, is the need for expert language services. Suddenly, you find yourself in uncharted waters. You need to communicate effectively with a diverse audience, but there's a barrier you cannot surmount alone: language. Translation, interpretation, and localization become not just important, but vital to your global growth strategy.
Navigating the language services landscape is not a walk in the park, especially when you're relatively new to this area. You're aware that you need to request a proposal from a Language Services Provider (LSP), yet you're uncertain what to include in it. How do you bridge this knowledge gap and ensure you articulate your needs accurately, thereby guaranteeing a fruitful collaboration?
Don't fret, it's not as daunting as it seems. Here at LinguaLinx, we deal with Requests For Proposals (RFPs) regularly, and we're here to guide you through the process.
The key is simplicity and precision; a well-structured RFP not only saves your time but also signals to the LSP that you’re serious about forging a beneficial partnership.
A good proposal from the LSP will also waste less of your time. No filtering through irrelevant information. And if you are sent irrelevant info…then you should move on to the next LSP because this one is just slinging mud at your wall to see what sticks.
So what does a good LSP RFP look like? In this article, we’ll talk about the main things that we find helpful to be included in the brief.
Considerations for Creating an RFP for a Language Service Provider
Provide A Specific Brief
Understanding your exact needs is crucial. What content do you require to be translated, interpreted, or localized? How detailed can your specifications be? Do you need assistance with a website, a collection of business contracts, a marketing campaign, a patent, or perhaps a combination of these?
Now, let's consider that you aim to enter the Spanish market, but not just any Spanish market. You are targeting not Argentina but Spain itself. Even within Spain, your focus is not on Malaga but the Catalan city of Girona. Moreover, your primary customer base is projected to be young adults aged 18–24, predominantly consuming content via their mobile phones.
This level of precision helps paint a clearer picture of your needs, facilitating an effective, tailor-made proposal.
What if You Can't Be Specific?
The reality is you might not know all of the specifics yet. But you still need the help of an LSP. So what do you do?
Let's say you’re building a call center and retail outlet in Jakarta, Indonesia, and you need someone to help you with everything from websites to marketing material to a recruitment campaign to signage to press releases to…all kinds of other documents.
All of this stuff hasn’t been created yet, and there’ll be a whole bunch more stuff that’ll need to be created that isn’t even on the radar yet.
Sometimes you can’t be specific with the country, region or type of content. And this is fine if you’re looking for a partner to help you on a longer-term basis. The LSP will still need specifics, but you might talk about your business objectives for the next five years and invite them to submit a proposal on how they would suggest helping you.
Don’t expect chapter and verse from them, but they should be able to explain the types of content they can see might need to be translated within your plans, how they would approach this, an idea of costs and how they would handle the running of your account.
Introduce Your Brand
You don't need to craft a lengthy 10-episode Netflix documentary about your company, but you do need to highlight your company's essentials.
The focus should not be solely on your history, unless it's pertinent to your present brand image - like Bacardi, for instance, the world's largest family-owned spirits company, which draws heavily on its Bermuda roots.
Instead, concentrate on your operating style, your customer demographics, and the unique ethos of your brand.
This is all about providing a snapshot of your company to the LSP, enabling them to fine-tune their communication and shape the RFP to suit your specific needs."
Define Your Budget
There’s no point in playing your cards so close to your chest that the LSP doesn’t know if you’re playing poker or blackjack. Showing a little bit of your hand gets the relationship off to a trusting start and you can get a feel for how the LSP handles this info. This will make the process faster and more streamlined. Even if it’s a ballpark, let them have a little look.
And don’t forget tech or hard costs. Ask them if there’ll be any costs you’ll have to incur, outside of the project budget, to handle your request. For example, do you have to install or rent any hardware or software?
Ask How The Relationship Will Work
How will your account be run? Do you have a dedicated project manager, account manager or specific point of communication? How often will there be communication? Daily, weekly, monthly, or whenever the need arises? You can evaluate the response and the team put in place to make sure it works with your way of operating.
Establish a Clear Timeline
A crucial aspect of engaging a Language Services Provider (LSP) is matching your project timeline to their capabilities. The LSP may have all the skills you need, but can they deliver within your desired timeframe? Remember, quality takes time - rushing could affect the results.
Start by outlining your project's key milestones. When do you need the initial drafts? The final deliverables? Are there review stages in between? Knowing these will help you determine if an LSP can meet your deadlines.
But your project isn't the only thing that needs a timeline. The RFP process itself benefits from a structured schedule. When should the LSP submit their proposal? By what date will you provide your feedback? Is there a window for the LSP to respond to your feedback?
Finally, set a firm deadline for your decision-making process. This not only keeps the process moving but also gives all parties a clear view of the procurement timeline. Remember to allow for enough time to thoroughly review proposals and conduct any necessary follow-up discussions.
Scope For Extra Flexibility
In the dynamic world of business, change is the only constant. Your needs may evolve over time - you might suddenly need to add a new language or variation to your project, or perhaps you're scaling up and suddenly find yourself needing triple the content translated in the same timeframe.
Can your Language Services Provider (LSP) adapt accordingly?
It's important to assess how flexible the LSP can be when it comes to handling sudden changes or new requests. Do they have the resources and capabilities to scale up quickly if needed? Can they mobilize additional linguists or technical experts at short notice?
Let's be pragmatic, though. The LSP might need to place certain limitations or conditions in response to sudden changes - they won't necessarily have teams idling, waiting for your next request. That's not how this industry operates. Nevertheless, discussing these potential scenarios can give you insight into their adaptability. It allows you to gauge how fast they can accommodate new requests or changes and is an indicator of their operational resilience.
When you're engaging an LSP, you're not just buying a service, you're establishing a partnership.So, it's essential to understand how well they can flex and adapt alongside your evolving business needs.
Finally, Review the Proposal
You’ll be pretty successful in getting a relevant proposal if you’re specific in asking for what you want, give at least an indication of what you have to spend, ask how the day-to-day running of your account will work, and check out their timelines and scope for scaling up. That’s all fairly straightforward.
We’d suggest that the other thing you really want to get a feel for during the RFP process is who they are. The LSP. As a company.
What do they stand for, and how do they do business? Will it match the way you operate? This is your sixth sense working and reading in between their well-prepared lines. It’s always worth just factoring how the RFP process with them made you feel.
You don’t need to base the decision on your gut, but you should at least listen to it.
Do You Need An RFP For A Linguistic Project?
If you're seeking a Language Services Provider (LSP) for any project, we would be delighted to explore the possibilities with you.
At LinguaLinx, we offer complimentary consultations with absolutely no commitment required. This gives us a chance to understand your needs and showcase how our services can be a perfect fit for your project.
With us, rest assured that your message will never get lost in translation. As an ISO 17100 compliant organization with two decades of professional translation experience, we've built a reputation for excellence. Trust, just like the numerous organizations we've served over the years, that your project is in competent and reliable hands.
Continue Learning with These Helpful Articles
- How to Choose a Language Service Provider
- How to Prepare for Your LSP Sales Call
- The Value of Having an LSP as a Longterm Partner