You know you need translation services, but if you’re looking to create a request for proposal document (RFP) and don’t know where to start – stop what you’re doing right now.

Rather than asking your colleagues for some ideas or turning to Google for typical RFP outlines, your translation services RFP document deserves more careful attention.  Because even if you think you have the right idea, you might be setting yourself up for disaster. Since your translation services RFP is suppose to be a tool that helps you assess and evaluate vendor options, you need it to make sure it is effective at getting the necessary information to make a informed decision.

We’ve worked with multiple companies that have been in the exact same position – wanting to know more about the typical translation services RFP and unsure of how to begin. So, before jumping into the whole process blindly, here are four fundamental things to know before seeking translation services.

1.       Determine the scope of your initiatives.

When looking to create a translation services RFP, you need to establish a clear scope of your translation programs, including everything from the amount of words you translate to the total spend of your translation initiatives to the language pairs you’re going to need. If you’re not exactly sure of these things yet, don’t panic. Doing a little research on your previous translation projects can usually give you a good estimate. Once you have your scope, you’ll better understand the extent of your translation programs needs, which can help you look for cost saving opportunities in your language services RFP – such as volume discounts or translation memory reuse.

2.       Plan out how to target the right vendors.

There are literally thousands of language service providers you could target with your translation services RFP – roughly 30,000 to be more exact. But not all language service providers are created equal, so you shouldn’t need to provide an RFP to all of them. What you will need to do, however, is know exactly what kind of translation services you’re targeting with an RFP. If your translation services RFP needs to target providers with key language pairs, this will help narrow down your target list significantly. And if you prefer a vendor that supplies a translation management system, now you’re only looking at a select few.  To target a vendor that is suitable for your company, be sure to lay out exactly what you need in a language service provider before creating a translation services RFP.

3.       Verify the key stakeholders.

When looking to create a translation services RFP, many organizations are seeking a vendor that they can leverage across multiple departments. But if you don’t understand the translation needs and pains of each of your departments, you’re likely not going to find the solution from a translation services RFP. So before you create one, know exactly who will be involved in your company’s translation programs and how a vendor will best serve them. Having their opinions and needs in mind before creating a translation services RFP will make sure the RFP is outlined for a vendor that really fits into your company’s workflow needs.

4.       Understand the driving force.

If you’re looking to create a translation services RFP, you should have solid reasoning as to why you are doing it. Is it because you’re not completely satisfied with your current vendor? Is it because you need another vendor to support your translation workflows? Or are you just browsing for other language service options? Whatever your driving force, identifying it will help you create a translation services RFP that focuses on your business’s actual needs – not what you think you might need. Keeping your driving force in mind will also help you create a better timeline for your translation services RFP. If the need is urgent, such as company growth in foreign markets, you’ll need a quicker RFP turnaround compared to a situation in which you’re simply exploring other translation service options.

If you want to create a translation service RFP that will target your company’s specific translation needs, these four things are definitely worth knowing. You can also check out our blog post which shares some of the best questions to ask within a translation services RFP.

Have you created a translation services RFP before? If so, what are some of the things you wish you would’ve known before heading into it? Reach out to us below. For more best practices on seeking translation services, check out Sajan’s blog at