9 essential tips for procuring language services

Any business operating in different regions relies on multilingual communication with impeccable language and style adapted to specific local conditions. A professional language services provider such as SwissGlobal can offer you comprehensive consulting and support, with individual services ranging from translation, transcreation and editing to customised multilingual corporate solutions.

So, what does a company or organisation need to look out for when purchasing language services?

Occasionally: One-off translation requirement, very straightforward

Example: You have a single document that needs to be translated. Your multilingual colleague at the office does not have the expertise required for the specific language combination, has no time or is on holiday. Perhaps the subject matter is also a problem because this time the document in questions is a legal text. What should you do? In such cases, ordering a translation is rather simple. You request quotes from language services providers, compare the offers and choose one of the vendors. Or you can place an order directly with the nearest translation agency. In this type of straightforward case, your requirement is clear – and if everything goes to plan you will find someone who can deliver exactly what you need at the best possible price.

Often: Recurring requirements for language services, increased complexity

As a rule, however – and especially in the B2B sector – it is more likely that you will require complex multilingual language services on a regular basis. This applies in particular to companies and organisations active in different regions and international settings and whose stakeholders speak different languages and have a variety of cultural backgrounds. Multilingual content can include many different things, such as your website, annual report, compliance documents, marketing brochures, training materials, legal texts, manuals and much more. You have recurring requirements that are both planned and unplanned, with fluctuating volumes. Your content varies in terms of subject, language, quality standards and file formats. Sometimes you might need a specialised translation, while at other times editing or transcreation services will be required. However, you might also find yourself asking the following questions:

  • Could some of the collaboration processes be designed more efficiently?
  • Can language and process technology be implemented to optimise costs and increase the consistency and quality of my texts?
  • Can I access my preferred group of linguists, even during off-peak hours or at the weekend?
  • And what actually happens with confidential client data that regularly leaves the company?
  • Are there language services companies that can support me as a partner and offer a comprehensive, long-term solution for my multilingual communication needs?
  • What options do I have when it comes to improving my company’s reputation through outstanding multilingual communication?

Professional procurement of language services

Professional language services companies like SwissGlobal can provide you with answers to these questions.

Companies and organisations that have recurring requirements for complex multilingual content should view the procurement of language services as comprehensive outsourcing – contracting out a complete or partial business process to a reliable and trustworthy partner.

There are certain key points and characteristics that need to be considered:

Language services as an integral component of content creation

Content creation is not completed when it reaches its final version in the original language, but rather when its final version in all the languages required has been completed – as well as being adapted to the target audience in different linguistic and cultural regions. The translation process, or localisation process to be more precise, is thus an integral and important component of content creation and not just a necessary evil tacked on at the end of the process chain.

Language services providers as partners and solution providers

The more closely language services providers are involved in the process of multilingual content creation, the more they can improve it. They are not merely suppliers but also partners. The lowest possible prices are not the main focus; process cost optimisation is what really matters. Ultimately, it is all about solutions and not just isolated translation orders.

9 essential tips for finding the right language services company

  1. Clear-cut requirements analysis and selection process

    We recommend that companies and organisations bring on board a specialised consultant such as Language Box or a reliable language services provider as soon as possible. After carrying out a requirements analysis with you, the consultant can provide key stimulus, create a customised specifications profile and outline possible solutions. During this phase, you also need to decide whether to tender the job or contact suitable language services companies directly.

  2. Qualifications of the language services provider

    Does the provider have professional working standards? ISO 17100 (Translation Services) and ISO 9001 (Quality Management System) certifications are good indications of this. More specifically, you need to determine if they are certified or if they have simply issued a declaration of compliance. The former is the only way to guarantee that a third-party audit has been conducted to ensure that the provider complies with the ISO standard.

  3. Market-segment specialisations

    A further indication of a language services provider’s qualifications is their specialisation in selected market segments. Anyone who claims to be able to provide expert, professional services in all languages and domains is usually unable to deliver the level of quality you need.

  4. A solutions provider – not just a translation agency

    Is the provider capable of developing and implementing comprehensive solutions for multilingual communication? These solutions can encompass a wide range of services such as copywritingeditingtranslatingtranscreationinterpretingterminology databases, the creation of style guides, etc. Language and process technologies are another important aspect to consider – for example, the use of databases with previously translated content & glossaries/technical terms, machine translation programmes, technical interfaces with client systems such as content management systems for the purpose of process automation, etc. A third aspect is more resource-oriented: dedicated project managers you can contact directly, local proximity, on-site deployments, in-house linguists, stand-by service, etc.

  5. Qualifications of the translators

    The job title of ‘translator’ is not protected. But if you contact a company that adheres to ISO 17100, you can trust that its translators are very well qualified because the ISO standard clearly stipulates the requirements: Translators without a university diploma must have a minimum of five years of full-time professional translation experience. Translators with a university diploma must have studied translation; if not, they need to have a minimum of two years of full-time professional translation experience.

    Membership of a recognised professional association is also an indication of high-quality work since these associations usually only accept qualified individuals and also offer further training courses. The ITI is the relevant association in the UK, while in Australia it would be the AUSIT, and it is the ATA in the United States. You can find an overview of the different professional associations worldwide here.

    And do not forget to verify the qualifications of the other professionals involved, such as copywriters, project managers, etc. as these job titles are not protected either. In different countries, for example, there are recognised professional associations for copywriters, such as the Textverband in Switzerland.

  6. Data security / Data protection

    The more integrated a language services provider is in your company’s processes, the more important data security and data protection will become. The provider’s interfaces and processes should possess at least the same level of protection that your company has. Companies and organisations must ensure that they have control over their personal data, trade secrets and other confidential information at all times. It is therefore highly recommended that your language services provider or their IT partner have ISO 27001 certification (Information Security).

  7. Prices and costing structures

    It is vital to understand the pricing structure of your provider in order to make an accurate price comparison. There is no standard structure – everyone has their own method. Here are the key criteria:

    – Price per word: Amount charged per word in the source or target language. In certain cases, the price may vary greatly based on the language combination, text type and quality. The important thing is to verify what is included: a translation with or without a secondary proofreading, with or without a secondary revision/editing, a machine translation with post-editing, etc.

    – Price per line: Same as above, but the price is calculated per line. This calculation is commonly used in Switzerland based on 50 to 60 characters (including spaces) per line in the source language.

    – Standard page: Standardised calculation basis, usually 30 lines per page.

    – Hourly rate: Widely used for services such as copywriting, editing, transcreation, terminology databases and layout work.

    – Daily rate: Typical for conference interpreting or on-site linguists.

  8. Discounts, surcharges and flat rates

    In addition, you should enquire about discounts (for longer delivery deadlines, previously translated content, high volumes, etc.), surcharges (for express orders, project management, certain text types, etc.), or minimum flat rates (for shorter texts) that may apply to your order.

  9. Clearly defined contractual regulation

    Ideally, corporate clients and language services providers define the details of the scope of services, rights and obligations, prices and conditions, etc. in framework contracts / service level agreements. These set forth the specific requirements and agreements of the parties in customised contracts.

In summary: Better together – our expertise is your success!

Procuring language services is a multifaceted process. You are not purchasing isolated products or services – you are outsourcing a complete or partial business process. You need more than just a supplier – you need a reliable partner. The purchase price is not the deciding factor – process cost optimisation is. The quality of your external communication is crucial – the reputation of your company is at stake. Data security and data protection are also becoming increasingly important.

If you follow these 9 essential tips for procuring language services, you will have the key elements of your multilingual communication well under control. Let SwissGlobal support you in this process – feel free to contact us at any time!

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