So, you've got a document, website, or maybe even an entire app that needs to be translated or localized? Kudos to you, it’s great that you recognize the value of adjusting your content to different cultures and speaking your customers’ language. But now comes the challenging part: finding the perfect language service provider. 

In this article, we'll explain how to evaluate different language service providers. We'll explore the key factors you need to consider, from their expertise and specialization to the technology and tools they rely on.

Our goal is to help you ask the right questions and make an informed decision about the partner that will fit your needs. This is why we’ll also provide you with a downloadable PDF checklist that includes questions you can ask.


1. Evaluate services offered by the language service provider (LSP)

Language service providers often specialize in a certain type of translation. For example, 70% of LinguaeMundi’s clients are from the legal and financial industries, and we have built a strong portfolio in this domain. Thanks to recommendations from our satisfied customers, we manage to get a steady influx of new clients.

Legal translations are complex due to their intricate nature and the significant differences between legal systems and terminologies across languages. The precision and accuracy required in legal documents leave no room for error. Legal texts often contain specific terms, concepts, and cultural references that may not have direct equivalents in the target language. Additionally, legal language can be ambiguous, open to interpretation, and subject to frequent updates. All of this makes clients seeking legal translation prioritize working with LSPs that have concrete experience.

Here are some questions that you can ask to evaluate the range of services offered by a potential external language partner:
  • What types of language services do you provide?
  • Do you offer translation, localization, interpretation, and transcription services?
  • What industries or domains do you specialize in?
  • Have you worked on projects similar to mine in the past?
  • Can you handle different content types, such as websites, software, legal documents, or marketing materials?
  • Which languages do you support for translation and localization?
  • Do you have expertise in the specific language pairing I require?
  • Do you have subject matter experts in my industry or field?
  • Are your translators or interpreters certified or accredited?
  • Do you have native translators within your team?
  • Can you handle large-scale or ongoing projects if needed?
  • Do you offer additional services like desktop publishing, transcription, or linguistic testing?
  • Are you equipped to handle specific file formats or software platforms?
  • How do you ensure quality control and accuracy in your translations?
  • Can you provide references or case studies related to projects similar to mine?
  • What is your process for handling client feedback and revisions?

Feel free to add any specific questions you might have to this list to gather all the information before making a decision. 

2. Make sure to understand how the LSP works with clients 

Once you cover learning about the expertise and the scope of services offered by the LSP, it’s time to learn about how they treat clients. To assess the overall satisfaction of clients, you can search for social proof such as client testimonials, case studies, or online ratings. It’s also useful to understand their company culture, internal workflows, and team structure.

Ask the following questions to understand how the LSP works with clients:
  • What is your typical workflow or process for handling translation or localization projects?
  • How do you communicate with clients throughout the project?
  • Will I have a dedicated project manager as my main point of contact?
  • Do you use a freelance or an in-house model? (This is important from the point of quality, availability, and consistency.)
  • What information or materials do you need from clients to initiate a project?
  • How do you handle project timelines and ensure timely delivery?
  • What measures do you have in place to ensure confidentiality and data security?
  • Do you have a system for tracking project progress and providing status updates?
  • How do you handle client feedback or requests for revisions?
  • Can you provide examples or case studies of successful projects you have completed for clients?
  • Do you have any specific client testimonials or references I can contact for feedback on your services?
  • How do you handle urgent or rush projects?
  • What is your policy for handling potential issues or challenges during a project?
  • Do you have any specific service level agreements (SLAs) in place?
  • How do you handle translation or localization requests for different time zones or international clients?
  • Do you have a review process in place (4-eye principle)? 
  • Can you provide a clear breakdown of the costs and pricing structure for your services?

Depending on the type of translation you need, you might also want to ask about ISO certifications related to quality assurance, process efficiency, and information security.

ISO certifications are internationally recognized and respected. They serve as a benchmark for quality and professionalism in the language service industry. When an LSP holds ISO certifications, it’s clear poof that they comply to globally recognized standards and can give you confidence in their capabilities. 

3. Ask about the technology and tools the LSP uses

Technology and tools aid the collaboration between your team and your chosen LSP. Language tech can also optimize your project management and translation costs, given the fact that it helps team members increase productivity and minimize back and forth communication.

Asking questions about the technology and tools used by a language service provider is important for several reasons. By inquiring about the tools they utilize, you can assess if they have advanced translation memory systems, terminology management software, or machine translation tools. These tools can significantly speed up the translation process, ensure consistency, and improve overall productivity.

Additionally, advanced tools can help reduce errors, improve accuracy, and ensure adherence to specific style guides or terminology preferences. It’s also a good idea to ask which file formats can the LSP handle, whether it’s HTML, PDF, XML, or other.
  • What translation memory (TM) tools do you use? (e.g., SDL Trados, memoQ, Memsource)
  • Do you have a terminology management system in place? If yes, which one?
  • How do you ensure consistency across translations? Do you use a centralized translation memory or terminology database?
  • Are your translators proficient in using computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools? Which CAT tools do they commonly work with?
  • Do you employ machine translation (MT) in your workflows? 
  • How do you handle quality assurance? 
  • What software or tools do you use for file format handling and compatibility?
  • Can you handle specific industry-specific software or formats, such as content management systems (CMS) or software localization tools?
  • How do you ensure data security and confidentiality when using technology and tools?
  • Do you have a client portal or project management platform for collaboration and file sharing?
  • How do you handle version control and track changes in collaborative translation projects?
  • Are your translators and project managers trained and certified in the tools you use?
  • Can you provide examples or case studies demonstrating how the technology and tools you employ have improved efficiency or quality in previous projects?
  • Are you open to using client-preferred tools or adapting to specific workflows if needed?

A bonus question you can ask is how the LSP stays updated on the latest advancements and trends in language tech. This will help you determine whether or not the translation company in question always looks for new ways to improve productivity and cost efficiency.

Download the free checklist and get in touch with LinguaeMundi

Well, there you have it! We've covered all the essential aspects of evaluating different language service providers. From assessing their range of services to understanding their technology and tools, you're now equipped with the knowledge to make an informed decision.

Remember, finding the right language service provider can have a significant impact on the success of your translation or localization project. Take your time to ask the right questions, consider their expertise, quality assurance processes, and their ability to handle your specific needs.

Make sure to download our free PDF checklist! Then you can reach out to potential language service providers, ask those questions, and compare their offerings. Don't forget to consider client reviews, testimonials, and references to gain a better understanding of their reputation and the quality of their services.

Want to assess if LinguaeMundi would be a good fit for your translation and localization needs? Not only do we offer those services, but we also provide value-added and consulting services. Get in touch with us today and let’s discuss your project!