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How to choose the right Language Service Provider

Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, there is always so much content to be brainstormed, written, translated, and localized. That varies from website content to social media copies, app content, case studies, reports, and all things in between. 

One question businesses face at some point when content starts accumulating is, who could handle this wide array of language services without putting the business at risk?

The answer lies in finding the right language service provider (LSP) to help you with content writing, translation, and localization

Still trying to figure out what an LSP does?, how to choose the right one, or what are the best LSPs out there, stick around in this article to learn the answers to these questions.

What is a Language Service Provider?

First things first, an LSP is a company or an individual who offers a variety of language-related services.

These services could include but are not limited to (translation (T), Translation-Editing-Proofreading (TEP), localization, copywriting, quality assurance, editing and proofreading, transcreation, transcription, interpreting machine translation, machine translation post-editing (MTPE), translation evaluation…etc)

 It involves linguistic, technical, and quality assurance services.


Advantages of Language Service Provider

Why use a language service provider?

Language service providers are sophisticated project management businesses. Their job is to handle language-oriented projects professionally with a high degree of accuracy while complying with industry standards. 

Through hiring an LSP, you’ll get the below benefits


Help of specialized industry experts

What’s better than bringing in experts in your field who are also up to date with cultural nuances?

They help meditate multilingual communication across different language pairs if your business functions in several regions, catering content that resonates with each audience requires linguists who are up to date with cultural aspects during the localization process.


Saving effort

Instead of spending time and budget by looking for and hiring freelance translators, who could be unqualified, or with varying expertise, an LSP already has its hands on professional translators who can get the job done, they are a mediator.

You pay the LSP, they find the translators, finish and submit the project for review, and pay their translators.


Utilizing Translation Technology

Besides being prepared with trustworthy translators, LSPs integrate translation software like translation management systems. CAT tools like memoQ and Trados, and machine translation

Translation management systems are crucial for managing and streamlining translation projects, they enable translators, and editors to work simultaneously on the same document, and project managers to supervise project progress, and assign tasks.

Integrating translation software can have a huge impact on productivity, consistency, and accuracy due to fostering powerful translation tools like glossaries, and translation memories which save time, money, and effort. 


you might be interested in what is the best translation vendor for you an In-House, Freelance, or Outsource?


10 Tips to Choose the Right LSP

Of course, not all language service providers are the same, it is more of a customized service that depends on many things like the size of your business, the number of language pairs to be handled, and the overall load of work, among plenty of other things. 

Here are 10 things to put in mind when hiring an LSP:


LSP specialization

Have they worked with your niche before?

Specialization is probably the most important aspect when narrowing down the search for the best LSP for your needs. 

If you are a jewelry business, you don’t want to hire an LSP who usually works with medical translation or financial one. 

Instead, you need linguists who know the jargon of your business, are aware of the language of your competitors and have demonstrated experience in the field.

They should be familiar with jargon related to jewelry making like manufacturing terms, jewelry polishing machines, the difference between gemstones, and karats, and the tone of language often used with jewelry.

You get the idea…


Work Load

After specialization, it’s crucial to address the subject of workload

Is the LSP busy with several projects at the same time? If so, how much work can they deliver in one day or week?

Is there a promised word count?

What about their turnaround rate?


If the workload is overwhelming, you might end up distributing work by hiring more than one LSP, depending on how many languages you are dealing with, or domains of content to be edited or translated.


Use of translation software

These days, translation is not just about language expertise, but also mastering technicalities. Your ideal LSP uses technology to provide an easy way of communication. 

They are always up to date with better translation software to maximize productivity.

With large projects, an organized LSP will use a reliable translation management system TMS to streamline tasks in one place.

What’s better, having work scattered over emails, excel sheets, and Microsoft Teams groups where things get lost? Or using a TMS that can integrate everything in one cloud space.



The second thing to look for is the quality of service. 

Quality involves how the LSP hires its translators. Do they work with highly qualified linguists who have experience in your industry? How do they assure translation quality with freelancers?

What are their means to secure your project data if it has sensitive information like financial ones?

What is the procedure to address issues or complaints?

Each of these questions unveils the process in which the LSP works and will differentiate the organized LSP from its opposite.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to look for its ISO certifications like ISO 9001, and ISO 17100.



A step further to ensure the quality of your LSP is to ask for reviews and look into referrals. 

The reviews could be found on social media, or through networking with companies in your industry. They could involve customer or client reviews, as well as employee reviews.



The cheapest LSP is probably not the best decision to make, especially if your expectations of the work quality are demanding. 

You’ll need an LSP that’s transparent with pricing, making sure that they know our budget and won’t surprise you with any hidden fees that you were not aware of beforehand.


Translation Sample

Can the LSP provide a free sample of translation for their clients as one way of showing credibility for their work?

At Fast Trans, for instance, clients are granted a free translation sample from the selected project to get an idea of what to expect. 

It’s a tiny service that earns customer’s trust and keeps them around for future projects.


Cultural Sensitivity 

This is related to the translator’s specialization and experience. 

If they come from different backgrounds, does the LSP provide training or testing to ensure awareness of cultural sensitivities?

If yes, it is a green flag because it shows how the agency is dedicated to delivering localized translations that cater to the different audiences of your business. It stems from their knowledge that missing out on cultural nuances when dealing with the target audience could blow the business. 


Balanced packages

Last but not least, hiring an LSP is all about seeking a balanced package for your needs. It should deliver the needed quality, at a budget-friendly price. 

It’s recommended to avoid fixating on one aspect while leaving out the rest. 

There is plenty of fish in the sea even when it comes to language providers, you just need to dig for the suitable one without rushing to compromise.


What Other services LSP offer?

Seek a language service provider (LSP) that offers a full suite of services

Needless to say, having a single provider handle all projects fosters familiarity with your company’s needs.

 Inquire about other LSP services like Proofreading, Localization, Editing, PEMT, and MTPE, and assess if there are limitations on source file formats.




Let’s recap these 10 points into 10 bulletproof questions to ask the LSP:

1-Do the hired translators have experience in my niche or industry?

2-How much work ‘word count’ can you deliver in one day/week?

3-How often do you utilize translation technology like CAT tools, TMS, and Machine Translation?

4-How do you measure work quality?

5-Is there an ISO certification you can show me? where can I find client referrals who worked with you before?

6-What exactly are the services does the project cost entail?

7-Can you provide a sample for your work as a start?

8-How do you make sure the translators are aware of the target audience’s cultural nuances?

9-What are all of the services you can offer?

10-can they handle all the different file formats I use?

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