How to Choose Your Language Service Provider (LSP)

MoGi - Localization & TestingAre you thinking about translating your product, but can’t decide which language service provider (LSP) to go for? The localization process can appear scary at first but, as long as you know how to choose the right partner for you, everything will turn out just fine.

What Makes a Good LSP?

Before comparing differing LSPs’ offers, you need to know how to assess them. As for any project, you want to make sure that your provider meets several key points.

Predetermined Plan – It is essential to plan and prepare everything before starting the translation process. The plan should include the different milestones, the deadlines for each of them, and which processes to follow. This provides better tracking of the project and helps to ensure that it is going at the right pace. As for the process, it should let everybody know what is expected from them and when – whether it’s you, the LSP, or the linguists. An experienced LSP company should know how to plan all of this and come up with a strategy that suits your expectations. Never take on an LSP without first having them outline a plan for you and explain exactly what the different stages of their strategy will entail and what the expected timeframe of each step is.

Communication – After the initial preparation phase, the project usually lies in the hands of the LSP’s Project Manager; the middle(wo)man’s role is to ensure good communication between all parties involved in the project. They are in charge of the follow-up, making sure that deadlines and expectations are met, and answering any questions you may have. Communication is the key to success, whether it’s before or during the translation process. If communication with your LSP is already difficult before the project has started, then consider a different provider – it is imperative that you are with your LSP at every step  – but this is not possible without clear communication.

Right Resources – Resources include human beings as well as tools. Every single translator has a field of expertise in which they have proven experience, whether that be website translation or medical device translation. To ensure good quality, it’s important to entrust your project to someone who is a native speaker of the target language and who also knows the field of translation. This can be further ensured by various terminology and Quality Assurance tools that experienced LSP companies and linguists use on a daily basis but, at the end of the day, no amount of tools can compensate for an inexperienced translator. Make sure you ask who will be translating your project before you even consider accepting an offer and make sure that your LSP can tell you exactly which tools they will be using.

Experience – Just as much as the linguists, companies also have expertise in certain fields. Not all companies are capable of handling video game localization, ad campaigns, or voice-over tasks. This is why – once again for the sake of quality – you should only trust a LSP that has experience in the field of your product, whether it’s a game, website, or software etc. Only a specialized LSP with strong references will be able to prepare the right process, deliver quality, and provide the right support for your project. If you have a mobile game translation project and your LSP does not have a service page dedicated to mobile game translation on their website, then you can rest assured that they do not have the relevant experience to translate your game. The same goes for any kind of project, whether it is a book, computer software, or an instruction manual for a car.

Time to Choose

Now that you know how to evaluate and choose the best LSP for your product, you can look at the level of service that they are offering you. A good LSP company should assist you during the whole process and offer post-delivery support, ensuring your satisfaction with the final product. They should be experienced, work with experienced resources, be able to answer all of your questions, and explain every single aspect of the localization process. If they cannot, then keep on looking until you find someone who can.
The price of the project will depend very much on the company’s services, frameworks, and many other factors. This is why you need to be clear about what you’re looking for, what you’re asking for, and what you’re willing to pay for. It’s also important to remember that cost does not always equal quality. LSPs will naturally price the same services differently, depending on resources, or even depending on what kind of translation software they use. Cost is not an indication of quality, so make sure you talk to your LSP about exactly what kind of service they will be providing and how.

Remember…

Remember that you can (and should) send your potential LSPs sample projects to work on in order to better assess their quality. These samples can be just a page of text representative of the work that the project will involve. However, make sure you proceed with caution; many companies will dedicate every available resource to securing a new client, and such a sample may not be representative of the actual quality of the services on offer. With this in mind, it’s vital to select an LSP with a back catalogue of satisfied clients and partners.

If possible, ask for references from a prospective service provider. Just as you wouldn’t take on a new employee without first testing their abilities, neither should you do so with a translation vendor. At the same time, it’s important to consider the legal constraints that may be placed upon LSPs. An NDA for example, may forbid an LSP from revealing information about the work carried out for a certain client.

Finally, as you may already know, the translation of your product will generate a return on investment only if the final product satisfies the end users, so make sure that your LSP understands the wants and needs of your target market. To summarize the above, by carefully selecting an experienced and recognized LSP you will see the most fruitful results, and potentially secure a blossoming, mutually beneficial working relationship.

At MO Group International we have the experience and resources to understand and meet the unique demands and requirements of each individual project. Our dedicated project managers are on-hand to help you out at every step of the way with your Localization project(s).
Contact us today to find out how we can provide you with suitable localization of your content.

Kathy Way, French Language Reviewer, MO Group International

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