SimulTrans Localization Blog: SimulTips

Procurement of Translation Services

[fa icon="calendar"] April 30, 2018 / by Margarita Núñez

Procurement of Translation Services blogIf this is the first time you have to procure Translation Services, either because you are new to procurement or translation, or because you are a stakeholder in the process, read on, you might find this blog of interest! 

No time to read? Then download our suggested RFP questions right away.Download 43 Suggested  Localization RFP Questions

What is a RFI?

A RFI (Request for Information) is the process of asking potential Language Service Providers (LSP) for high-level information about their company. In this case a localization RFI should cover:
  • Overview of the company
  • Financial Standing
  • Services provided
  • Languages covered
  • Experience in a specific industry

The purpose is to collect data about different companies invited to the RFI and compare them to figure out which is the best fit for you.

Typically the RFI originates from the procurement department within an organization. It has many stakeholders & different objectives. For instance:

  • Top management might want less human involvement in processes
  • Finance might be looking for a reduction in spend
  • IT might look for better integration among all systems
  • Localization might want to implement the latest TMS technologies

Each company has different reasons to launch a RFI.

Here are a few:

  • Increase/Decrease the number of LSPs in the panel
  • New languages are required for translation
  • New services are requested from internal teams
Once procurement has compared all the responses, they create a list of pre-selected LSPs that fit their criteria, who are then invited to a RFP. 

What is a RFP?

A RFP (Request for Proposal) is the next step in the bidding process. It is sent to the pre-selected (RFI) potential suppliers by the company’s procurement department.
The purpose is to procure a service, in this case a translation RFP is to buy translation and localization services. So LSPs are asked to submit a business proposal as a response.

There are many reasons to launch a RFP as each company has different challenges from reducing spend to centralization.

I believe that a good RFP should have 3 main ingredients:

1 - It should explain the objectives of the company issuing the RFP, for instance, it should state that the purpose of the RFP is to:

  • Reduce the current spend on translation
  • Increase the amount of LSPs in the panel
  • Benchmark paid prices with industry standards
  • Centralize localization at HQ
  • Integrate CMS & TMS across multiple locations
  • Introduce Machine Translation (MT) in the company
  • Increase quality of translate products

2 - It should specify the minimum requirements for an LSP to qualify, so the LSP can decide whether or not they are a good fit before they embark on answering a RFP.

  • $ XX M revenue
  • Locations in same cities as company
  • ISO certifications
  • Proven experience in same industry
  • X amount of translators per language
  • Provide specific services (localization, terminology, machine translation)
  • Language combinations
  • File formats they can handle
  • Integration with current CMS/TMS

3 - It should define the criteria for selection of LSPs.
It could be any (or all) of the following:

  • Price
    Ability to reduce cost over time with new Technologies
    Added Value to the company (services, technology, etc.)
  • Quality

QA steps in the localization process
ISO certifications (ISO 9001 & ISO 17100)

  • Turnaround

Ability to deliver x millions of words per year
24 x 7 service 

  • Innovation

Constant search for best tools and technology in the industry

Capability to apply the tools and technology to your own localization process  

What is an e-Auction? 

This step only happens after the RFP responses from the LSPs are carefully reviewed and a handful that fit the criteria are selected to participate in an e-Auction. An e-Auction is also known as a reverse auction. Its aim is to get best market price for the company among the invited LSP. Only very large companies with millions in translation spend per year embark on an e-Auction. 

Typically an e-Auction is:

  • By invitation only
  • On a fixed date
  • With a maximum duration allowed
  • Online via an e-auction tool
  • Pre-defined set of rules
  • Fixed currency

What is a MSA? 

If the pricing submitted during the e-Auction is acceptable to the company, then there is an in-person meeting and a draft  MSA (Master Service Agreement) is discussed. A MSA is simply a contract between a company and its LSP.
The MSA:
  • Defines terms of the relationship
  • Reflects the pricing agreed for the services
  • Specifies the SLA (Service Level Agreements)
  • Explains the discounts available to the company
  • States the duration of the contract e.g. 1 to 3 years (usually renewable)
  • Defines the terms for larger projects SOW (scope of work)
  • Sets responsibilities for the LSP for each assignment
  • Includes the escalation point of contacts
If you need any help writing your RFP questions, click here for our free download!
Download 43 Suggested  Localization RFP Questions
Interested in learning even more? Read this blog.

Topics: Translation Services

Margarita Núñez

Written by Margarita Núñez

Margarita is SimulTrans' Director, Global Marketing. She spearheads SimulTrans' Digital Marketing Strategy by creating, managing, and publishing content for inbound and outbound campaigns across multiple channels. Margarita has more than 25 years of experience in sales and management for the localization industry. She has been involved in many localization organizations, currently serving as a Program Director for Membership for Women in Localization, a non-profit global organization.