10 Questions To Ask Your Language Service Provider For a Successful Partnership

Language Service Providers should act as your brand's ambassador to translators, powering amazing connections with localized content crafted by creative professional translators.


Language Service Providers (LSP) are your brand's gateway to working with talented and creative translators. But, without prior experience working on a translation project, the task of selecting the right LSP can seem daunting.

To help ensure a successful outcome, here are ten questions to ask your Language Service Provider before starting work on new localization campaigns.

1. Do translators have experience working within my industry?

Different industries will have their own unique challenges when it comes to translating content. Legal content will require the close-eye of a Lawyer, meanwhile medical documentation will require an experienced professional to review.

Some questions to think about include:

  • How long has the Langauge Service Provider been involved with translating in your industry?
  • Do translators have knowledge of the industry and experience working with similar projects?

Its important that the Language Service Provider working with your brand provides translators that are familiar with your particular industry to understand the details and nuance, or even legal requirements, of that content.

2. What fees are associated with translation services?

Different LSPs will have different pricing structures. Some will charge per language translated, while others will charge based on the number of words translated.

Some questions to think about include:

  • Can you break down your pricing structure? Will we be charged per language, per word, or per project?
  • Are there any project or word count minimums, or any fees associated with project management?

Language Service Providers may even charge project minimums as an extra cost of translation. Discuss with your LSP to uncover any hidden fees before you begin working together.

3. How are translators evaluated and qualified to work with the Language Service Provider?

Volunteer and free-lance translators can do amazing work, but banking your global expansion on free translation efforts might lead to poor results. Mature LSPs should have an evaluation process in place to vet acceptable translators.

Some questions to think about include:

  • How are translators tested, vetted, and qualified to work with brands? Are there any specific testing procedures for individual specialized industries?
  • What percentage of translators do not make it past your organization's vetting process?

A look inside this process will ensure you will be working with talented and qualified translators.

4. What training do translators receive to ensure high-quality results?

Not only should translators be qualified, but it is essential to ensure that translators receive proper training to deliver high-quality results.

On-going education is always a great way to help your employees continue to learn and master new skills, and the same can be said for translators as well.

Some questions to think about include:

  • What qualifications are required for translators, and are there any specific training courses or certifications translators must obtain?
  • Does your business provide a path for translators to gain new certifications and continue training with on-going learning?

Mature LSPs should have a process in place to help foster creativity and translation success.

5. How does the LSP define quality?

Quality can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Start off on the right foot with your Language Service Provider by establishing a common understanding of what a high quality translation should look like.

Some questions to think about include:

  • How do your translators, editors and reviewers define quality?
  • How is quality quantified, and how can we measure the attributes that contribute to a high quality translation?

Mature LSPs should have internal quality assessment processes in place, and even some Key Performance Indicators to measure, to better understand the attributes of a solid translation.

6. What is the process for revising translations that fail to meet quality requirements or project goals?

Even beginning on level ground with a clear definition of translation quality, there still might be times that the end result doesn't quite meet your brand's expectations.

Some questions to think about include:

  • What is the existing process for revising or revisiting content that failed to meet our agreed upon quality standard?
  • Will there be any fees associated with editing, revising or recreating content that missed the quality mark?

There is always the possibility that translations will need extra work, or a new creative touch. LSPs should have a process in place to handle these situations and facilitate necessary revisions promptly, so that your brand doesn't have establish an internal review process.

7. What is the policy regarding translation memory?

As one of the most valuable linguistic assets, translation memory is vital resources for improving translation quality while cutting down on time and money spent on each project.

Some questions to think about include:

  • Will the LSP own the Translation Memory after project completion?
  • Will your brand have the ability to edit, modify, refine or even transition these assets if necessary?

Some LSPs and Translation Management Systems provide flexible translation memory databases, enabling for quick access, editing, and even exporting for future use.

8. What technology do translators leverage?

Gone are the days of emailing spreadsheets or word documents filled with strings and content to be translated, and gone are the days of lengthy internal reviews.

Smartling's Cloud Based TMS enables translators to leverage linguistic assets like glossaries and a style guide, as well as work directly with visual context of the project they are translating.

Some questions to think about include:

  • Does the LSP offer their own Translation Management System?
  • What tools and linguistic assets are available to translators and how are these are incorporated to streamline the process?

These tools not only improve translation quality, but cut down on the time-to-market and overall cost of translation.

9. How can we collaborate with translators?

Translators should be seen as an extension of your brand, and not just another email address in your inbox. With an open path to collaborate with your brand, translators can ask for clarification, creative insight, or direct feedback on their work.

Some questions to think about include:

  • Can my brand directly interact and communicate with translators. If so, how is this possible?
  • Are there any existing APIs or connectors with Unified Communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams that enable real-time collaboration with translators?

Ensure the LSP enables your brand to directly communicate with translators without any red tape. For example, Smartling offers a direct Slack integration to communicate with translators in real-time.

10. How is content delivered?

With so many new tools and services to build your brand's experience around, it has become increasingly important to find technology that will work together.

Some questions to think about include:

  • Are translation proxies or custom SDKs available to help you meet your deployment goals quickly?
  • Can custom integrations be built to support either home-brew, or less popular solutions?

Ensure that the LSP can integrate with your existing tech stack, for example, Content Management Systems or Marketing Automation platforms. If there aren't any existing connectors, inquire if the LSP will work with your brand to build one.

Success Starts With Research

Language Service Providers should act as your brand's ambassador to translators, powering amazing connections with localized content crafted by creative professional translators.

However, when entering an entirely new field or taking on an entirely new process like localization and content translation, it can be easy to get lost in the weeds of it all. That's why any successful project first begins with the right research.

Arming yourself with these ten questions to ask your language service provider, brands can establish a strong foundation for success moving forward.

You can learn all about the Smartling Translation Services experience here. Ready to get started? You can request a translation test here.