Three Common Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting a Language Service Provider

Authored by Scott Swanson, Business Development Director

Considering expanding your business globally? In addition to business and economic considerations, you will have to overcome an additional challenge: understanding a new language and culture. Whether you are entering your first international market or adding a new one, your presence, value proposition, and messaging must resonate with the end user, your customer, no matter where they live. A strong Language Service Provider can help you make the transition.

Understanding the Importance of a Language Service Provider

Language service providers (LSP) help you to reach people in your target market in their native language through culturally-appropriate content. Expert translation, interpretation, localization, and other language services will help you better connect to and communicate with your customers, particularly in highly-regulated and technical industries. As you expand your company’s footprint around the globe, an experienced LSP will be a critical partner for your growth. High-quality LSPs typically offer the following:

  • Expert translation services.  The best LSPs provide expert translators who are native speakers of the languages they translate, and are subject matter experts knowledgeable about specialized terminology in various industries. This expertise means that your written materials are accurately translated into your desired languages, and are of the highest quality.  
  • Interpretation services.  LSPs also provide interpretation services in multiple languages and various forms, including onsite (face-to-face), over-the-phone, and video remote. Language service providers can often provide access to interpreters with certifications and experience in specialized industries, including the legal and medical fields.  
  • Localization services.  Top-rated LSPs also provide localization services. Localization is the process of ensuring your content appropriately reflects the cultural norms and nuances of your target market. Localization also accounts for other important aspects of culture, such as colloquial speech, systems of measurement, and various other conventions.

Choosing the Best LSP for You

Not all LSPs are created equal.

How do you know which one to choose as your partner for global expansion? It can be a daunting task as the market is large and growing. The global LSP industry reached approximately $46.9 billion in 2019 and is estimated to increase to $56 billion in 2021.  Currently, within the industry there are approximately 18 LSPs with revenue over $100 million to choose from!

Extensive due diligence is necessary, of course. It is also important to know the common mistakes that companies sometimes make when vetting language service vendors. Here are three common mistakes to avoid when selecting an LSP partner:

1. Choosing an LSP Without the Requisite Technical Expertise

When choosing an LSP, you want to confirm they have technical expertise that aligns with your organization’s goals and strategies. Make sure you inquire about the LSP’s technology integrations, project and workflow management tools, information systems, and how they communicate across all stakeholders.

Additionally, you will want to confirm any accreditations that the LSP has received. These include compliance with ISO standards, which demonstrate quality management and assurance practices.  ISO 9001 addresses quality management system criteria specific to “a strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach and continual improvement.” Specific to the language services industry, ISO 17100 addresses quality translation frameworks. Meeting these ISO standards indicates that the LSP has solid quality measures in place, making them highly reputable. 

2. Selecting an LSP That Lacks Experience in Your Industry

Industry-specific expertise is critical to delivering high-quality, reliable translation, interpretation, and localization services. It is essential that the LSP you select understands your industry and has the necessary expertise and experience to confidently manage your specialized content. For example, if you operate in a heavily-regulated industry like finance, pharmaceuticals, or intellectual property law, your LSP must know and have worked in your industry. That includes understanding specialized jargon and concepts, as well as possessing detailed knowledge about your target audience. Confirm the LSP can manage documents and conversations specific to your industry, including technical manuals, clinical trial briefs, and discussions about international legal contracts.

3. Hiring an LSP That Does Not Prioritize Security

Do not make assumptions about security. Not all companies give it the same level of priority,  but they should. According to FinTech News, a cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds, with 72% of all security breaches targeting large companies. As you explore your LSP options, choose a provider that prioritizes end-to-end security protocols and best practices. You will want an LSP that invests in cybersecurity tools, and strictly adheres to the processes detailed in System and Organization Controls (SOC) Type 2 reports. Furthermore, ensure the LSP carries a HITRUST CSF Certification.  This status demonstrates that the organization’s Translation Management Software environment has met key regulations and industry-defined requirements, and is appropriately managing risk.

Additionally, the LSP you select should prioritize confidentiality and other security measures for your data under ISO 27001. This standard addresses information security management compliance, enabling the LSP to “manage the security of assets such as financial information, intellectual property, employee details or information entrusted by third parties.”

You also want to confirm the LSP has a fully-developed disaster recovery procedure in place, as this adds another layer of protection for you. While all data are important, some are particularly critical to business continuity.  When those data are threatened – either through a natural disaster, hacking, or malware – a disaster recovery plan is essential. 

However, make sure that your LSP’s disaster recovery plan adequately accounts for the security of your data. Although a well-constructed recovery plan protects business continuity in a disaster, it should also protect the security of your data and other digital assets. Choosing an LSP that addresses both recovery and security is critical.

SECURE. UNIFIED. EFFECTIVE.  Our family of companies includes BIG IP, ISI Language Solutions, Protranslating, and Language Link, bringing a combined 110 years of expertise with offices in 25 cities worldwide. Through our portfolio, we customize and deliver language services in more than 200 languages and dialects.

Have questions on how an LSP can benefit your organization? Give us a call today.