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3 things you need to know about language service providers

If you’ve ever ordered a translation or have worked with an agency for other language projects, you may be familiar with the acronym “LSP”, which stands for language service provider.

But what exactly does a language service provider do? Sure, they offer language services but what does this include? How do they operate and what should you look out for when choosing an LSP to work with for your own projects?

Here are the top 3 things you need to know about LSPs:

Language service providers don’t just employ translators

If you’ve chatted to someone who works for an LSP, there is a high chance that your conversation with them went a little something like this:

“Oh, you work for a language services provider? What languages do you translate?”

“Uhm, I don’t actually translate myself.”

Silence and utter confusion.

Yes, translations are generally one of the main services that an LSP offers. In many cases it is by far the most requested service for any LSP. However, few people that work for LSPs translate in their day-to-day work.

That’s because many LSPs are companies or agencies where various language services are coordinated in a central place. Simplistically said: many professionals that work for LSPs coordinate or manage services and processes. These tasks are often done by someone who works as a Translation Project Manager.

In this role, the Project Manager usually helps clients with any questions they may have. They create price quotes, choose the right translator for each project, and do the final quality checks of a translation before delivering it to the client. And yes, in most cases, these people have a degree in translation studies, but they could also come from other language-related fields such as multilingual communication. 

Apart from Project Managers, some other jobs at LSPs can include:

– In-house editors, proofreaders, linguists

– Terminology experts

– Solution Architects

– Content and Communication specialists

– Quality Managers

– And of course, the usual suspects that make a business run: CEOs, COOs, accountants, and HR specialists.

The range of services and languages can vary

As mentioned above, the most requested service for any LSP is usually translations. To cater to client’s needs, LSPs often work with a global network of translators (many of them are independent freelancers or work for small agencies). This way, they can offer translations for many different language pairs and industries. Of course, there are also LSPs which don’t operate globally but rather specialise in a certain target market or language group.

Apart from translations, you may find other language services such as:

Editing and proofreading

Transcriptions

Transcreations

Interpreting

Copywriting

In more recent years, the demand for technological solutions has risen drastically. Clients need translations faster and cheaper but don’t want to compromise when it comes to quality. The only solution for LSPs to meet this demand is via the help of technology.

Some of the services using such new technologies are:

Machine Translation

Post-Editing

Speech-to-Text software for automated transcriptions

Terminology management

Translation memories

Desktop publishing

Some LSPs are ISO-certified, others just “ISO-compliant”

You may have heard the acronym ISO, which stands for International Organization for Standardisation. ISO is a non-governmental organization that comprises standards bodies from more than 160 countries, with one standards body representing each member country. ISO-standards ensure the quality, safety and efficiency of products, services, and systems.

For many companies, having ISO-certifications is a vital part of their quality management. It’s a way to display transparency and to show their customers that they can rely on certified quality for their language services.

Don’t be fooled by the lingo though! ISO-certifications are not mandatory for language service providers and some LSPs label their services as “ISO-compliant”, which is essentially a meaningless statement. Only those who undergo the regular quality controls and pass them receive the official ISO-certificates and are thus allowed to call themselves ISO-certified.

If you’re looking to work with a professional LSP, be sure to check for their ISO-certifications and to ask which ones they have if this is not clearly stated on their website

At SwissGlobal, we currently have the following ISO-certificates:

In addition, we also work with a Swiss IT provider which is ISO 27001-certified. Our customers’ data is always processed with absolute discretion.

Now that you have a better understanding of how LSPs operate, perhaps you would like to start working with one yourself or re-evaluate your current language partner.

If you have trouble deciding on one or are unsure which specific features to look out for when choosing your ideal LSP, this guide on how to find the right language services provider might help.  

Or simply get in touch with SwissGlobal for a personalised consultation by one of our experienced project managers.