Do they have the necessary IT tools? – As long as your LSP is using up-to-date computer-aided tools (CAT) and is properly trained in them, it shouldn´t make any difference at all. One important difference to look out for is whether your LSP can handle the interface between CAT tools and desktop publishing (DTP) tools (Office, web formats, professional editing packages, etc.).
Can they ensure quality? – Quality is a key issue in the corporate translation world, but it doesn´t always mean the same thing to all people in all projects. To ensure “quality”, you need to combine the best translators, software and processes and have a clear understanding of your own requirements. Whereas LSPs will have more resources in all these areas, you won´t necessarily get better quality just because you´re working with a large company. Click here for more about quality in corporate translation.
Do they have professional internal processes? – Small companies can be less process-oriented than large ones, but will have less bureaucracy and are often nimbler and more agile. You can get an indication of how well a company operates from its sales process: if an LSP takes 3 days to reply to a quote request, chances are its internal organisation is not as well-oiled as it could be. A clear indicator of efficient and effective processes is the ISO 9001:2000 certification.
Are large LSPs cheaper or more expensive than small- and medium-sized LSPs? – Although there is no direct relationship between size of the LSP and price, large companies tend to have greater overheads (nice offices, support personnel, etc.), and smaller suppliers can often beat their prices.