Back in the day, choosing a translation service was mostly a tick-box exercise. You found one. You used one. These days, with the influx of content platforms on offer and the increasingly global nature of business, translations have taken on a far more important role.
Because of the nuances of what is required, it’s crucial to find a translation partner, rather than just a supplier. You want someone who can understand your industry, your business challenges and goals, as well as key terminology and tone of voice. You want someone with the proper credentials. You want someone who you can rely on, time and time again.
So, how do we find that?
It’s all about knowing what to look – and ask – for.
In this blog, we want to shed some light on the, often complicated, selection and onboarding process by showcasing our own real-life example. A while back one of our clients put their translation requirements out to tender. This is the journey of how they chose and onboarded Comtec.
Insights is a leading learning and development company headquartered in Scotland with offices all around the globe. We worked closely with their team for all of their translation requirements, which included translating marketing and website content, learning tools and accreditation training material into several different languages.
Request for Proposal (RFP)
Insights has had previous experience of outsourcing translations to a translation service provider, but also handled some of their translations in-house, working with their worldwide offices. However, their previous provider was really more of a one-off service. “We were looking for a translation partner who could deliver a high-quality service on a consistent basis.”
Insights wanted a more collaborative approach, to partner with a provider that wanted to understand the business and help them align translations with their objectives. The translation team, therefore, put out a Request For Proposal (RFP), selecting 16 translation companies. Some of these they knew, including their current provider, and others they found on the Association of Translation Companies (ATC) website. Comtec was excited to be one of these chosen 16.
For anyone currently searching for their perfect translation partner, creating an RFP is immensely useful. With Insights, it enabled us, Comtec, to structure our response and proposal in a way that was most logical and useful to their team, rather than taking a shot in the dark at what was required. Out of the 16 approached, 9 responded, and three were shortlisted and invited to an interview in Dundee.
Benchmarking different translation service providers
To shortlist providers, Insights devised a marking system to rank them against each other. Criteria included a collaborative approach, quality, elearning expertise, language capability and price. “While we were conscious of cost, our main focus was finding a provider with the right expertise.” Many of us have been on the receiving end of sloppy translations in the past and, as you likely know, it’s not worth the savings.
Face-to-face meetings are really important
Comtec were delighted that the tender process involved an interview – let’s face it—we’re a chatty bunch – and the opportunity to meet the people we would potentially be working with. The interview was a chance to get to know each other and find out if all parties could work together. This included meeting members of Insights digital media, creative services and product teams, all of whom had input into the selection process.
Being able to meet people from the different teams meant we could ask about the range of services they needed (e.g. website localisation, voiceover, Desktop Publishing and elearning translation) and explore their current pain points. With this information, we were then able to better showcase the services we offer and tailor our service to suit their needs. Shared company values were also important to Insights. The team said, “We didn’t just want a provider, we wanted a partner – a company that shared our values and people-focus and could deliver a personal service. Comtec had the edge – a less corporate, more people-centric approach and really nice people.”
From very early on, we could see that this would be a great partnership as our values were, and continue to be, so closely matched. We both help our customers achieve their goals, we value teamwork and build open and honest relationships with our clients and our suppliers. And we enjoy the journey! We’re passionate about the service we deliver and establishing great working relationships.
Following the meeting in Dundee, each TSP was invited to submit a proposal and we were delighted to be selected as Insights’ new translation partner.
Onboarding your chosen translation service provider
The next stage of the process was to align our system and processes with Insights’, identifying areas that could be improved to give their team the most value from us and kick off a great working relationship from the get-go.
Insights had their own onboarding process. It was clear early on that they wanted to move away from a transactional relationship, which is also a relationship we aim to avoid. Partnerships in which both customer and supplier are engaged, committed and communicative are the ones that drive successful outcomes.
Calls were arranged with Comtec’s project management team and Insights to provide us with more background, and to help Comtec get to know the business model and product. Insights also held a webinar where they provided further information on their Insights Discovery Personal Profile and gave key members of Comtec’s team first-hand experience of this self-development tool.
The team said “We were impressed by Comtec’s desire to understand our models and products to ensure they could deliver a quality translation service. This commitment to getting it right helped them stand out from other providers.”
When our account management team and the translation teams were invited to complete their own personal profiles, it enabled the team to get a much deeper appreciation of the Insights brand and what they deliver. It also built a great deal of enthusiasm and passion for achieving the best possible results and really brought the team together.
Reviewing existing translation processes and tools
Insights also provided Comtec with their linguistic resources, including Translation Memories, style guides and glossaries. We reviewed these and worked with the in-house translation team and European offices to improve and update them. We also provided the team with advice about translation technology that could streamline their processes and improve the quality of translations, such as online revision tools and translation management.
“It was refreshing that Comtec were proactive in communicating with Insights, wanting to understand our processes and offer feedback and support in refining them. One of the key things that Comtec did during the onboarding process was to develop reviewer guidelines and nail down the translation glossaries.”
Top tips for working with a translation service provider
Finally, we asked the team at Insights for their advice, based on their experience coordinating the procurement and onboarding process with Comtec, for other companies looking to appoint a translation partner. Here’s a summary of their key points:
- Take your time. This gives you a chance to think about what you really want and need from a translation partner. Also factor in where the business is going in the next few years and how that will impact your translation requirements.
- Request for proposal. Using a structured procurement process allows you to assess not only the services each provider offers but also how willing the TSP is to tailor its services to your company.
- Company values. Alignment between your company’s values and the TSP’s is very important.
- Avoid transactional relationships. Appoint a TSP that is interested in your business, wants to understand what you do and the processes involved.
- Invest time in establishing the relationship. Face-to-face meetings and telephone calls with the project management team will help to ensure everyone is on the same page and strengthen the relationship.
Finally, we wanted to know whether Comtec has lived up to expectations and whether they would recommend us to other companies. They said:
“We had a good feeling from the start and Comtec has met all our expectations. If anything, we’re now more conscious that we’ve made the right decision and have noticed improvements in quality and a smoother process. Our network of offices is also happier.”
“We see Comtec as a big part of our business and we’re really happy to recommend Comtec!”
And if you’d like to find out how we can support you, as we have done for Insights, why not book a call with a member of our friendly team today?
P.S. You may also find our foolproof guide to translating elearning content useful. If you want a masterclass on translating elearning modules, download it today.