How to Choose the Right Language Service Provider (LSP)

by Drew Evans
3 Minute Read

Turning an idea into a product, website, or application is a labor of love, and it always takes time and effort to realize. Even once the building process is complete, finding success is a challenge on its own - and growing that success to multiple markets can be even harder.

In most cases, simply launching in a new locale isn’t enough, especially if your new target audience can’t understand your message. Language service providers (LSPs) can help take your product, brand, and company image and turn it into something that foreign markets can understand. These days, it’s not enough to simply have a website in English alone if you’re expanding globally.

What exactly do LSPs do? They namely exist to help provide translation and localization services, and while there are plenty of options available, it’s important to choose the one that fits best for your needs.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a language service provider:

Language Options

Begin by asking yourself one question: how many languages do you need? Certain LSPs offer more language options than others, so if you’re looking for something very specific, you’ll need to find a provider that aligns with that need.

Take stock of what you need, both now and in the future. While it may seem like a good idea to work with a number of different vendors, it’s often harder to manage multiple different agencies working on various projects. Instead, find one provider that can cover most (if not all) of your needs. 

Volume and Deadlines

Just as with any external vendor, it’s important to understand the operating capacity that your new partner can work with. Can your LSP handle your needs?

To give some guidelines, it’s helpful for your prospective vendor to know your expected volume and frequency. Are you going to be translating content once a month? Once a week? More? Is there urgency in how quickly that work needs to be returned? Finding the right partner that can both handle large volumes and return your work within the timelines you need is crucial to future success.

Technology

Does your LSP use new technology to help with the process? Are there integrations for what you need? Is there a platform you can use that’s easy and reliable?

These questions, while they may not be make-or-break to your decision, may have an influence on who you ultimately decide to work with. Integrations and cutting-edge technology can streamline and speed up the entire process, making it easier to tackle big projects.

Quality

It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s always important to make sure that your LSP can live up to the quality standard that you’d like to set. And while certain types of content need the highest level of quality, it is always important. 

Receiving high quality translations from the start means that you don’t want to have to edit/recheck everything you get back. Good questions to ask your prospective LSP are: How are translators trained? How do you measure translation quality?

Support

Finally, the question you need to know from the start is: will your LSP be available?

In many cases, handing off content for translation can feel like a black box with no real understanding of what’s happening or who to ask for help. Understanding your LSP’s workflow and knowing where to turn in case of an emergency is good to know ahead of time. Understand your expected needs and see how your LSP can work with you to provide support.

Expertise

One additional thing that may be important to consider in specific instances is your area of expertise. Say, for example, you’re looking for help with legal translation. While many vendors can help, there may be things beyond just simple translation that need to be considered, like local laws, requirements, regulations, and more.

• • •

Ultimately, finding a localization vendor is important, but finding the right LSP that can partner with your team and understand your goals is the goal. It can take time and research to understand your needs and what partner matches well with those, but in the end, it’s well worth it.

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