A Checklist for Translation Vendor Management

translation vendor management

Main Tasks of a Translation Vendor Manager

This article was originally published on the Wordbee Blog. Wordbee are the makers of the popular translation management system and CAT Tool for translators .

As an integration to another article, A Data-based Approach to Translation Vendor Management, we’d like to expand here the vendor manager role as centered around three main tasks:

  • Finding and selecting the resources best suited for a project.
  • Vetting and recruiting them.
  • Updating the vendor base on a regular basis.

Just as for our other checklists, to get started you need to ask yourself two fundamental questions:

  • Who is going to use the checklist?
  • What is the checklist for?

The checklist can be radically different whether it is designed for yourself only or to be used by someone else in your team. In the first case, it can be just a memorandum of the tasks to perform, with no special additional instructions to follow through. In the second case, you should provide instructions on how to perform the task(s) associated to each item in the checklist.

Suggestions for a Vendor Management Checklist

Finding Resources

  1. Start by defining the resources you need: a freelancer, a language service provider,  a commercial partner? Each options will bring with it some considerations.
  2. Is it going to be a short-term or a long-termcollaboration?
  3. Define the profile of the resources you are looking for:
    •  Do you need a translator, a transcreator, a localizer, a multilingual SEO expert, a localization engineer, a terminologist, a project manager…?
    • Which language combination(s)?
    • Which qualifications and certifications?
    • Which skills and expertise?
    • Any specific tool proficiency?
    • How many years of experience (junior/senior)?
    • Are you sure they are who they say they are? (identify verification)
  4. List the source tools that can help you to look for the right vendors. Here are few ideas.
    • Your own vendor base.
    • Professional bodies (associations, registers, etc.)
    • Online marketplaces.
    • For long-term searches, plan every year a visit or two to events like those organized by trade organizations like ELIA (for small LSPs), ELIA Together (ideal to contact freelancers), GALA (for bigger LSPs), etc. as well as the conferences held by local associations.
    • Contact universities and translators’ training centers. Your company might also consider the possibility of giving trainees from local universities/training centers the chance to work in your offices for a limited period of time.
    • Search LinkedIn. Many professionals have a LinkedIN profile where they list competences and testimonials, information that could help you make a first selection.
    • Referrals and word of mouth can also be good options.
    • If nothing else helps, search the web.

Always remember to check the identity of the person you are contacting. There are many scammers out there who might be using someone else’s resume.

Selecting and Vetting Resources

The next step is verifying that your candidates meet your requirements (they tick at least more than half of the boxes in your checklist).

  • Check their websites.
    • Are  any testimonials or references available?
    • Is a resumé available for download?
    • Is a portfolio of past projects available?
    • Do they have a social media presence?
    • How is contact made possible? Social media, e-mail, phone…
  • Contact your candidates and ask whether they are available for a test. If no portfolio, reference, testimonial or referral are available, a test might help you evaluate at least the fundamental skills. Always have some standard ready-made test packages that you can send to candidates every time the need arises, and “refresh” them regularly.
  • Also very important: Who is going to check the test or assess the portfolio (in case, the candidate has any)?Not all competences might be available in house and on the fly, and they might not be enough anyway. So, have a list at hand of possible vetters  to check the work of a candidate or a test for an objective assessment.
  • Regarding identity verification, if you have any suspicions at all, just arrange a video call on Skype or other tools. This will catch 99.9% of all translation scammers who are spoofing an identity.

Regularly Updating your Vendor Database

Like any database, the vendor database needs regular maintenance.

  • Remember to send a message to your vendors at least once a year to verify that their data is complete and up to date.
  • The vendor might have added new language pairs, specialisations or qualifications, even new tools.
  • Check whether the vendor is still applying the same rates as the previous years.
  • Check (new) experience.
  • Check the tax regime.

Remember: Vendor managers are experts in human resources,so it’s not up to them to agree on fees. This is something that the project manager and the vendors will agree based on the project requirements.


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