Following the initial contact, which usually takes place by telephone or e-mail, it would be beneficial for you to invite the language service provider for a personal meeting. At such a meeting, any test translations that have been prepared in the meantime as well as the choice of translators can be discussed.
Use this opportunity to ask all relevant questions. For this, a list of questions or a checklist can be very useful. Once the potential language service providers have been evaluated in a standardized manner, i.e. on the basis of a checklist or questionnaire, you can assess the answers with the help of a list of pros and cons or, even better, by means of a SWOT analysis.
Once you opt for a particular language service provider, you should come together to discuss a framework agreement that outlines quantity prices, due dates, and other details of the cooperation. In such a framework agreement, do not forget to specify that all translation and terminology databases created on your behalf are and will remain your property, and that you have the unlimited right to inspect and receive these data. Moreover, the forwarding and use of your corporate terminology for other customers should be expressly prohibited in the framework agreement.
Next, all language processes and all workflows between you and the language service provider should be documented and defined. Especially translation guidelines and style guides are invaluable aids both for you and for the language service provider (see ISO 17100).
Depending on the scope of the order, you and the language service provider—i.e. your project manager and the provider's key account manager—should come together about once or twice a year for a personal follow-up meeting. Regular, transparent communication helps to improve the results, as problems can be identified and joint solutions can be found at an early stage.