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Does size matter when choosing a language service provider? (1 of 2)

Choosing a language service provider

Although large companies will always mention size as their main advantage, does it really matter in translation? If size is such an advantage, why is the translation market so fragmented, with thousands of freelance translators and small Language Service Providers (LSPs) serving corporate clients? Surely what matters to users of translation services is that their LSP can handle volume and deadlines, and that the translations delivered are top quality! What you want is a supplier which can handle all your needs, but which is not a bureaucratic monster and can therefore provide an exceptional service.

These are some of the things you should look out for:

How important am I to the LSP? – Just like in other services, the smaller the supplier the more important I am as a client to him. During the sales process, large LSPs will send a senior VP to make you feel warm and fluffy, but you might never speak to anyone senior again. With small LSPs, there is a bigger chance that you will get to discuss linguistic and technical issues directly with the President/Senior Project Manager, etc.

How well do they know my business? – While it may take a lifetime to become a subject matter expert (SME), it does not take long to become an expert in your company’s technical vocabulary. An LSP with the right expertise can use past glossaries and translation memories (TMs) to get up to scratch and produce translations which are consistent with previous translations.

Can they handle our volume and deadlines? – The internet has opened many opportunities for even small LSPs, and getting several translators to work in parallel on a large document is no longer the challenge it used to be. While all LSPs will claim that they have “never missed a deadline”, this is not only untrue, it’s also not enough. The issue is not just to deliver on time, it is to deliver on time and ensure quality and consistency too. Only experience will tell you whether your chosen LSP can do this or not.

See the second part of this blog entry here.

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