Blog post dated Jan 3, 2019

The Right Translation Partner

Language Service Providers

Your new product is almost ready, the release date has already been determined, and the advertising campaigns have already been prepared, but the user manual for the international markets is still missing—it still needs to be translated.

Does this scenario sound familiar? Perhaps you intend to sell a product on the international markets for the first time, you are not satisfied with your previous translation service provider, or your usual translator does not have any free capacities. In such and similar cases, you might need to procure translation services from a new partner. However, this is not always easy, as numerous aspects must be taken into consideration.

But why is it so difficult to purchase translation services?

An Article by

Flurina Schwendimann
Freelance Translator

In this article, you will learn how and where to find the right language service provider.

The Seven Greatest Challenges

  • Translations are difficult to standardize, as a company needs many different types of texts, such as user manuals, product descriptions, advertising campaigns, customer documents, contracts, etc.
  • As a translation is a pure service, the contact between the customer and the provider plays a key role. Open communication helps to minimize potential misunderstandings and loss of information.
  • These services cannot be purchased in advance, but only when they are actually needed, in which case they often need to be ready as soon as possible.
  • At the beginning of the cooperation, both parties need to demonstrate a measure of trust.
  • On the Internet, it is easy to put on airs. In view of the many translators and language service providers that fulfill the formal criteria—which does not say anything about their actual caliber—it can be quite difficult to find a suitable partner.
  • Both the process and the result are difficult to assess as far as the quality is concerned.
  • The rates of various freelance translators and language service providers can vary greatly. Therefore, it is challenging to find a project partner whose quality matches his rates.

For your projects, you can work either with language service providers or with freelance translators. This article focuses on language service providers. The following article will show how you can find a good freelance translator.

Collaborating with Language Service Providers

Language service providers are companies that engage permanently employed translators, freelance translators, or small translation agencies. Roughly, they can be divided into the following three categories:

  • Single language vendor (SLV): Specialized in a particular language, usually the language of the country in which the SLV is domiciled.
  • Regional language vendor (RLV): Specialized in regional languages, e.g. the Baltic States, Eastern Europe, South America.
  • Multiple language vendor (MLV): Does not have any language specialization and offers various language combinations.

Multiple language vendors often work with numerous regional language vendors, who might in turn cooperate with suitable single language vendors. Most of these language service providers also collaborate with a team of freelance translators. In some cases, they additionally have internal project managers, translators, and reviewers. Accordingly, the supply chain is long and complex.

The advantage of language service providers is a higher level of availability of translations due to the access to a large number of translators. This can be helpful for very large or urgent projects. Companies that need translations in numerous languages can benefit from the broad portfolio of multiple language vendors.

On the other hand, you as the customer usually do not have any direct contact with the translator. Moreover, as follow-up projects are not always handled by the same translator, the style may vary greatly from text to text. Language service providers sometimes assign projects on a "first come, first served" basis. This means that orders are assigned to those who are the fastest to respond to an offer. In some cases, this means that another, better qualified translator does not get the job.

Another aspect to remember is that when working with language service providers, you cannot directly review the translator's qualifications, as this is done by the project managers. Usually, freelance translators submit proof of their qualifications to the language service providers and specify their subject areas, which however are not always substantiated.

Language service providers have a higher level of availability of translations due to the access to a large number of translators.

Finding the Right Language Service Provider*

If you have decided to work with a language service provider, you need to check some rather complex requirements for your future cooperation partner. Apart from making sure that the freelance translators at the end of the supply chain deliver high-quality texts, you need to find out whether the translation process as a whole meets your requirements. As previously mentioned, the texts will pass through various hands before you receive the final file. Therefore, your selected language service provider must meet your high standard in the fields of quality assurance and information security.

In 2015, the international standard DIN EN ISO 17100 was introduced as a successor to DIN EN 15038 in order to standardize the quality of language service providers and freelance translators. The standard governs the translation process as well as the qualification of employees and translators. Special attention is paid to quality assurance and risk management. Certified companies are subject to regular quality checks. Further information (in German) on DIN EN ISO 17100 is available at the Kocarek Website. Additionally, language service providers can substantiate their quality assurance through process optimization with the DIN EN ISO 9001 standard. Detailed information (in German) on the standard is available at TÜV SÜD.

Another important quality factor of a language service provider is the knowledge of the translation management system you use. These skills can be substantiated with a certification that demonstrates that the respective LSP has the needed technical infrastructure to connect seamlessly to your supply chain. Various errors in the translation process can be prevented by means of automation and effective quality checks.  For example, we offer a comprehensive certification program for the Across Language Server, which demonstrates the user skills gained in intensive training sessions.

The following sections feature some points of contact at which you can start searching for your new language service provider.

An important quality factor of a language service provider is the knowledge of the translation management system you use

Members of Qualitätssprachdienste Deutschlands e. V.

Qualitätssprachendienste Deutschlands e. V. (QSD) is an association of companies of the language service industry. The range of QSD members includes pure translation agencies as well as companies with highly specialized expertise in the field of international communication. Before being admitted to the association, translation companies are required to furnish evidence of their quality assurance systems. Most QSD members are certified according to DIN EN ISO 9001 or DIN EN ISO 17100. You can find the list of members on the QSD website.

Across-Certified Language Service Providers

If you work with the Across Language Server, it might be beneficial to cooperate with a language service provider that is certified in the use of this system. Further information about our certified language service providers is available on the Across website. Additionally, some of our translation partners are QSD members.

Online Network crossMarket

crossMarket is our online portal for the localization industry in which customers and language service providers can easily find each other and benefit from each other. As a company, you can register and search for language service providers. From some 17,000 members, you can find a suitable cooperation partner with the help of various search criteria. From their profiles, you can get an initial impression of what they offer. You can see the languages, subject areas, services, and text types offered at a glance. Additionally, you can see their certifications.

Alternatively, you can collaborate with a freelance translator. Various tips on how to successfully find a freelance translator are available in the second part of this article. You will also learn how you can check the quality of language service providers and freelance translators.

*This information is of a general nature. For long-term and large projects, it is advisable to select a language service provider very carefully. In that case, additional factors should be considered. The topic "quality assessment of language service providers" will therefore be addressed in a separate article in 2019.