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How Do You Create a Translation Services RFP

When a business is growing bigger, its need for linguistic services increases; the hunt for the best language service provider begins, and it turns out that there are plenty of great language service providers (LSPs) they can pick from. The next question is…how to decide on the best language service provider (LSP) for this business? This is where a request for proposal (RFP) steps in.

In this article we’ll tackle your most common questions regarding RFP like its definition, steps for ‘request for proposal’ writing, and whether you really need one or not.


What Is an RFP in Translation Services?

RFP is short for ‘Request for Proposal’. It’s a tool-mostly a written document-utilized by businesses and corporations when they’re on the hunt for a suitable language service provider (LSP) or vendor to work on a big translation project. The thought process behind it is a simple one; an RFP states what linguistic services this business needs, and chooses the language service provider (LSP) that can best meet those needs.

Instead of spending lots of time searching for a language service provider (LSP), businesses that are about to work on a big linguistic project will call for language service provider or vendor proposals. It’s like a competition where vendors try to outstand other bidders.


Do you really need a translation RFP?

When you are embarking on a big project, most probably, yes.

A request for proposal (RFP) is not just a great way to attract the best language service providers (LSPs) for your project, it also does the following:

  1. Allows for an interesting comparison between language service providers in terms of (provided services, resources, and prices)
  2. Communicates clearly the needs of your businesses to language service providers (LSPs) or vendors, which helps them meet your expectations without many back and forth on feedback
  3. Creates an environment for competitive bidding where language service providers (LSPs) try their best to market their capabilities and services.
  4. Enables businesses to stay within their budget, this is by stating clearly how much they are able to invest. Consequently, language service providers try to meet that in their proposal.

Read more: How to choose the right language service provider?


What Should You Include in a Translation RFP

There are 2 key points to be considered in a translation request for proposal RFP: offering information about your company and asking for information from the vendor.

The first section offers information about the company (the nature of the project, the company industry specialty, the needed language pairs, and the type of documents that need translation).

The second section requests information from the vendor like (pricing, company size, technological tools used in translation like TMS and CAT tools, previous client reviews, rate per word/hour, ISO certifications…etc)

Generally, the more clear and concise your request for proposal (RFP) is, the more you are helping the language service provider (LSP) decide whether they can be a good fit for the project.


Steps for creating an RFP


Brainstorm the RFP

Before writing the request for proposal (RFP), some brainstorming and preparation has to take place. It’s where business owners or project managers find the answers to questions like (What are the requirements of this project? What are some weaknesses that can be improved?

Additionally, this step should involve gathering information and work samples that can shown to the potential language service providers. The more information there is, the more you allow the vendors to grasp the nature of your project.


Write the RFP

So far, you collected all the necessary information to be included in the request for proposal. Now it’s time to write them down in an organized document that’s easy to navigate.

The outline for the RFP:

  1. Company background (Name, specialization, and industry expertise).
  2. Details about the project (requirements that need to be met by the vendor).
  3. How selection works: this is related to the previous one. You can write in more depth how the selection of the vendor is done, what boxes do they need to check?
  4. How to submit the proposal (steps for vendors to follow in order to submit their project proposal).


Create a list of vendors

The request for proposal (RFP) is finally done, the next step is to get proposals from language service providers, but how do they know about your RFP?

You can find them either by getting recommendations from other clients who have dealt with translation service providers before, by contacting language service providers (LSPs) you previously worked with, or by gathering contact information of vendors in a directory. 

After you research, gather these vendors in a list and send your invitations.


Q & A Session

Vendors and translation companies have been invited, and your request for proposal has been launched. However, there might be additional questions or inquiries that need to be addressed. Therefore, a meeting is scheduled that allows you to answer questions and clarify further on the RFP. 


Evaluate Proposals & Make a Decision

Vendors have sent their proposals for your review. In this process you might need to contact them for work samples, or any further questions that will help you make the selection.

After that, the sound selection is based on how the vendor or LSP meets all your project requirements and criteria.


Questions for Translation Services RFP

There are endless questions you can ask the LSPs or vendors which can reveal if they are a good fit for your project or not. Let’s explore the most crucial ones below:


Questions about the company

  • What is the size of your company/agency?
  • Where is it located?
  • How are projects managed?
  • Can you name me the top clients you had, and how was their feedback?


Company quality assurance

  • What quality certification do you have? For example: ISO 9001.
  • Can you guide me through authentic customer reviews
  • What is the Translation management system do you use?
  • Is there any quality assurance tool you depend on?
  • What are your protocols for ensuring customer confidentiality?
  • Can you send resumes or CVs to the project managers and translators who will work on the project?



  • What’s your rate per word/hour/page?
  • Do you provide a free translation sample?
  • What’s the pricing for project management?


Deadlines and working hours

  • How do you ensure you always meet deadlines?
  • Have you ever missed a deadline? If yes, why and how did you handle the delay with the client?
  • What’s the availability of the translators and their working hours?


Translation Services RFP – Do’s and Don’ts

We want you to make the most of the advantages an RPF offers, let’s consider below some of the RFP best practices.


Include all necessary information

You want to make sure that the RFP is thorough enough and includes all answers to all possible questions. Missing information in an RFP shows poor communication, and you will end up repeating yourself to the vendors in other to explain further what the RFP lacked, which can be time-consuming.


Be critical with your selection

A well-written proposal doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best fit. More importantly, a proposal is like an applicant’s cover letter, it’s all about making themselves appeal to the hiring manager, but it doesn’t act as proof that what they are saying is true. If you think a proposal is attractive enough, feel free to ask for work samples or demos to support their proposal.


Don’t underestimate word-of-mouth recommendations

When creating your invitation list, one way to get good recommendations for LSPs is through the word of mouth of satisfied previous clients, especially if they’re in the same industry as you. Such recommendations are a great way to know the pros and cons of a vendor from a party that doesn’t have a conflict of interest.


What does a translation proposal look like?

So far, we’ve talked about your RFP, and how it should be written. But one question remains, what does a translation proposal look like?

A cover letter: A proposal will typically include a letter that explains why they are interested in working with you on the project, in addition to highlighting their biggest advantages that make them stand out.

Pricing: the translation company or LSP will tailor pricing according to the project. The pricing section can involve things like (payment schedules, methods, and payment terms)

Scope of work: it refers to the services involved in the project in order to meet the client’s goals.

Translation approach: in this section, the translation company proposes its approach to the project. It might include several translation types like technical or financial. It’s good for clients to understand the different aspects of the project and how much effort each one will take.

Timeline: this section includes their expectations of the project duration.


Do you Have a Translation Project? Contact Fast Trans now

Are you embarking on a challenging project and looking for a translation service provider to satisfy your business needs? Fast Trans is your go-to-choice especially if you don’t have the time to launch a meticulous RFP. Fast Trans prides itself as one of the leading translation companies in the MENA region, dealing with 20+ kinds of translation services in a variety of specialized fields like medical, financial, technical, and religious translation. 

Contact our team to get a free quote, your journey with us starts here.

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