Assessing Capabilities of a Language Service Provider

When selecting a language service provider (LSP), many things should be considered. You will probably evaluate the history and reputation of the company, the services offered, the resources available, the translation workflow, automation solutions, and linguistic and technical quality. When you find an LSP that seems to fit the bill and offer the services and capabilities that your business needs, you’ll want to assess those capabilities to ensure you are making a worthwhile investment. Consider the following when assessing the capabilities of your LSP.


Account team

It might seem obvious, but it’s important to make sure that your translator has the right expertise to complete your job correctly. The value that your LSP is providing you is the ability to select translators with the right linguistic and subject matter expertise. LSPs often act as an extension of your organization, providing scalability, reliability, and quality assurance. When vetting your LSP, make sure to ask how projects are assigned and staffed. The answer to this will indicate the quality you will be able to expect.

In addition to the actual translator(s) who will be working on your projects, you’ll want to learn more about the project manager who will coordinate the workflow and serve as your contact. Assess the experience of your potential project manager as well as their familiarity with your industry. Know how they prefer to communicate throughout the duration of a project and make sure it is in sync with your expectations and preferences.


Project specifications

Clearly define the purpose, audience, and specifications for your project. Communicating this information upfront can help you assess whether or not your LSP is up to the task. Does your project involve technical training material for a sophisticated reader? Or is it an informational brochure with lower-level reading knowledge? This information is critical for an LSP as it helps the translation team to establish the appropriate tone and style for the target language.

When it comes to the audience, choosing an appropriate regional variation is important for a number of reasons. Not only for the reason of addressing your audience in its native language but also because of differences across dialects. When vetting your LSP, you’ll want to make sure they have the capability and resources to assign a translator that meets these requirements.

If any of your projects include web copy, your LSP’s workflow might include integration with a content management system (CMS). Using a CMS makes the translation process run smoother. It can help ensure a streamlined workflow with your LSP, offering easy import and export of text as XML or other standard formats. This makes for a smoother exchange of translatable content and facilitates updates for the product management team. Make sure your LSP can integrate with the CMS you are using. Argo Translation offers CMS Connect, which is a simple way of integrating with your content and eliminates the need to manually transfer files.



Professional translators usually work in their native language, but that isn’t always the case with all language service providers. In these instances, it is crucial that a translated text be reviewed by a native speaker of the target language. When assessing your LSP’s capabilities, make sure that they use native speakers of the target language when possible, or have native reviewers to ensure accuracy.

The bottom line is that your vendor should be transparent in their vendor selection and if they can’t meet specifications for a given project they should disclose the information and come up with a plan to mitigate risks. The plan should be agreed upon by the LSP and the client. Full transparency should always be a requirement.


Final review

Grammatical and spelling rules vary greatly among languages. For example, if you see a different ending attached to a proper name, it is because the target language is inflected and requires different endings for different grammatical cases. Different languages have different rules regarding capitalization, punctuation, formatting, etc. Learn about the final review process of your LSP. And if you’re still in the process of assessing their capabilities, you can certainly get a third-party review of the final document to ensure the quality of work.


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