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September 26, 2019 |

How to Choose the Right Language Service Provider

So, you’re ready to go global with your business, but you have no idea where to start! The only way you can provide an excellent user experience worldwide is by localizing your content and marketing. And the first step is to learn how to choose the right language service provider. 

Localization of your website, app, videogame, marketing content, or even social media can be a long and painful process. As you scale up, you already have a lot of decisionmaking on your plate. Translation and localization management shouldn’t bring more hassle to the table. 

The key is finding a reliable partner to help you streamline your translation and localization processes. Someone with effective workflows in place, skilled project managers, and a willingness to commit to a long-term partnership. 

Let’s see how to choose the language service provider that’s right for your business. 

Make a List of Requirements

Before going out there to find the right language service provider, you should sit down and define your expectations. Depending on your business goals, you may need to work with a small translation agency or a large provider with offices in multiple locations. 

Some of the elements you should consider are:

  • The scope of your expansion. The number of languages you want to translate your content into and for how many countries you wish to localize. 
  • Your resources. The people and working hours you can dedicate to the project, as well as how much you can afford to spend. 
  • Deadlines. How fast you want your product launched in global markets.  
  • Your industry. The types of translation services you need, depending on your specialization. 
  • Compliance. Some niches require specific certifications and working with translators and localization experts who respect standards in line with local laws and regulations.   
  • Volume. The amount of content that you need to translate. 

The right language service provider is there to hold your hand as you make your product ready for every local market you target. Your future translation team should work with local language specialists who have previous experience in your industry. Moreover, it should have industry insights in the countries where you plan to expand your business and be compliant with local rules. 

Plainly put, look for a partner who’s ready to take the burden from your shoulders and deliver tailored solutions to speed up your localization process. 

Where to Look for the Right Language Service Provider

Once you’ve set your expectations, it’s time to start looking for the right language service provider. 

The market of language services is worth about $49.6 billion in 2019 and is made up of thousands of translation companies of all sizes. There are plenty of choices out there for all types of translation and localization projects. 

You can start your research on dedicated platforms, like Slator, TranslatorsBase, or Proz.com. Professional associations are also excellent resources when looking for a reliable partner. The Association of Langauge Companies or the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) are both two excellent resources for companies looking to hire a translation agency. 

Tools Matter

One crucial element to consider is the technology that your future localization partner uses. Gone are the times when translators relied exclusively on dictionaries and language skills. 

Most language service providers have integrated machine translation in their processes. Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools help translators to work better and deliver high-quality work faster–and for a fraction of the cost. 

It doesn’t mean you’ll get a Google Translate-level translation, either. Skilled linguists are still doing the hard work of choosing the better terms and idioms to keep your messages intact. They check grammar, punctuation, and style, as well. 

CAT tools give them some help to increase their productivity. This approach will result in fewer errors, more consistency in your translated content, and a better price for your project. 

Before signing a contract, make sure your translators have the right tools to work with all types of file formats. It shouldn’t be your job to worry about programming languages and technical details. 

Ask for References

References are essential when looking for the right language service provider. They show how the translators handle similar projects and help you to understand whether you’re choosing the right partner. 

Make sure you require references that are relevant to your industry and target markets. Note that you should localize for countries and regions, not languages. 

A language service provider that has carried out several localization projects for Spain isn’t necessarily a top choice if you’re planning to expand to Latin America. Your target public may speak the same Spanish language. But they do it differently and have different mindsets, cultural backgrounds, and purchasing habits. 

Considerations of Data Protection

By now, you’ve probably invested many resources in data protection for your users and employees. Privacy online and cybersecurity are hot topics in almost all countries, so you need to make sure you’re on safe ground. 

Translators get access to your website, legal documentation, and confidential files. Any breach in your system and you’re compelled to investigate possible damages. There’s no easy way out of such a scenario! 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Choose a language service provider that values the confidentiality of your data as much as you do. Don’t be afraid to ask about the company’s privacy policy, firewalls, system updates, and any other detail you consider relevant. 

Look for red flags, such as no NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) in their processes, or no HIPAA compliance (for the USA). 

Final thoughts

When you choose the right language service provider for your business, you turn a complicated translation and localization process into a manageable project. That’s because you get an experienced partner to rely on in crucial moments for your business.

Carry out proper research to find the perfect fit for your business. You need a company that understands the scope of your project and has the necessary infrastructure to turn your localization project into a success story in as many countries as you need.

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