When a translation of an individual project or document is required, quotes are usually requested from different language service companies or individual translators. Instead, in the case of wider procurement or repetitive needs, it is common to publish a public call for tenders and a private call for proposals, which, however, is also usually a call for tenders for translation services. In this case, we are talking about tendering for translation services.
Tendering requires understanding
Tendering for translation services requires an understanding of the translation business. As with other outsourcing services, it is important to understand the industry’s policies and tools when making a call for tenders. It is also at least as important to understand what is being procured. One of the cornerstones of a successful procurement is that both the customer and the supplier thoroughly understand both the object of the procurement and the expectations related to it.
The subject of the procurement is rarely, if ever, “mere words”. It is, therefore, advisable to tender for more than just a price per word. The current Public Procurement Act, which governs the procurement of public translation services, also aims at quality procurement in addition to the efficient use of funds. The same is also true for B2B translation service procurement: the customer is looking for a cost-effective solution that meets their needs.
Translation services are a strategic procurement in which quality plays an important role. Before quality can be put out to tender, it must be defined. Usually a service is considered to be of high quality if it meets expectations and wishes. The description of the procurement must describe the expectations and wishes concerning the translation service.
Tendering for quality
The main problem with tendering for translation services seems to be the tendering for quality. In public tendering, quality is often given high priority, but, at the same time, qualitative requirements are set in such a way that all tenderers receive full points for them. Then quality really has no weight whatsoever, and, in the end, it is just a question of a price competition.
In the private sector, tendering is less regulated, but if tendering takes place without sufficient knowledge of the translation industry or even of one’s own translation needs, there will be challenges ahead. When there are not enough qualitative differences between suppliers, the solution best suited to the customer’s needs is not found and many innovations are left unnoticed, and the selection criterion is simply the price.
A distinction should be made between quality of service and quality of language. It is good to review the expectations and wishes of both the customer and the service provider in the procurement process. With regard to quality of service, particular attention should be paid to quality assurance, technology supporting the translation process and delivery time and security. Language quality can be assessed with customer satisfaction and, if necessary, tested with sample translations.
Comparing the price of translation quotes
Tendering for translation services should not look for the cheapest service meeting the minimum requirements, but for the most appropriate solution. It is, therefore, important to ask specific questions during the procurement process, either in the call for tender itself or in an open dialogue with suppliers. That is the only way to separate the wheat from the chaff.
In terms of price, it is essential to compare apples to apples, that is, to ensure that the prices to be compared cover a similar service. In addition, having a clear understanding of the price of the entire procurement, i.e. the calculation of the total costs, is essential in the price comparison.
Good quality usually costs more than poor quality, but only in the short term. The correction of poor language quality or delays in deliveries may be much more expensive over time.
As with other outsourcing services, the success of a translation service procurement is crystallised in that the customer and the supplier together understand what is being procured, the quality and delivery schedule to be expected and the total costs to be incurred.
We have created a guide for you with tips on how to complete a successful tender for translation services. With the guide, we hope you make great procurements!