Document Translation In-Person Interpreting

How Do I Choose The Right Translation Agency?

March 13, 2015
Winding roads

Winding roads

How do I choose a translation company? How do I translate my website? Should my website be localized? These are just a few questions you should consider before you choose a translation services provider (LSP).

Getting Organized

Put together a list of the types of language services you’ll need. Have this list in document form so you can share with the LSPs you interview. Without this document it’s impossible for any LSP to accurately understand how well their services will meet your needs. Major items to consider for your document are:

1. The type of internal support and knowledge your company has for dealing with an LSP.  Do you have multilingual staff? Can you review the translated content to assess its quality?

2. Your budget and time frame. Are they somewhat flexible? Can you give an absolute time deadline and funding limit?

3.  The specific services you require. Is it simple translation? Full-scale localization? Editing and proofreading? Full linguistic review? Onsite interpreters? Etc.

4. The core languages you need interpreted or translated now and in the foreseeable future.

5. The volume of translation. How many pages or how much time do you anticipate needing? How often will you need it? What kind of file formats will you be using?

6. The content management, document management or translation management system that you’ll use to integrate into the process. Do you need your LSP to work with the system you have in place?

7. The type and level of customer service you need. Do you need multilingual, in-country reps to deal with multiple dispersed teams working on different languages individually? Will all correspondence be handled through a single point of contact?


Once you can specifically describe your in-house capabilities, how you work with LSPs and what your project entails you’re ready to start contacting LSPs.  Be sure you evaluate each company in at least these three areas: (1) Quality of interpreters and translators; (2) delivery of services; and (3) administration.

Your needs may vary but here are some general questions to ask yourself in each of these three areas. We’ve adopted much of this information from a U.S. government website.


Quality of Interpreters and Translators

  • Does the language services provider recruit interpreters and translators on an ongoing basis from a wide range of sources?

  • Does the LSP screen translator and interpreter candidates?

  • Does the LSP require their interpreters and translators to receive professional training and attend continuing education programs?

  • Are the provider’s interpreters or translators certified? If so, by whom?

  • What Code of Ethics are the interpreters/translators asked to follow? (Read a copy and see if you find it suitable.)

  • What protocols are interpreters expected to use and do those protocols match your needs?

  • (For example, a protocol might tell the interpreter what to do if there is a communication breakdown.)

  • How does the LSP provide long-term quality assurance?

  • What mechanisms does the LSP have to instruct interpreters about specific policies and procedures of your organization?

  • Does the LSP have specialists in the field or industry you need translation or interpretation for? (You may need an interpreter who can work in legal, health care, manufacturing, marketing communications or another field. Can this provider fulfill that need?)

Provision of Language Services

  • How good are the depth, breadth and quality of the language services company’s pool of translators and interpreters? (If a company only offers Eastern European languages you wouldn’t hire them to interpret Japanese, for example).

  • How responsive (for in-person interpreters) is the provider? (The provider should track and share information on what percentages of all requests the provider is able to fill.)

  • How competitive are the LSP’s no-show rates (for in-person interpreters)? What percentages of all requests result in no-shows?

  • How long does it take the LSP’s telephonic interpreters to come on the line? (45 seconds or less is competitive.)

  • For telephonic interpreters, will you incur any equipment costs and, if so, will those costs improve quality?

  • In case a disaster strikes, does the language services provider have a disaster recovery system for its telephonic interpreters?

  • How prepared is the LSP to handle a large volume of calls, track connectivity statistics, and provide accurate billing and reporting?

  • Does the LSP offer to test translated material? (Some LSPs test the accuracy of translated materials via a focus group as part of their service.)

  • Does the LSP offer additional services that would be of value to you?


  • How competitive are the fees? (If you’re comparing fees among different LSPs be sure you know exactly what each fee covers.)

  • Are there any additional charges or discounts (one-time set-up fee, monthly minimum, volume discounts, cancellation fees, etc.)?

  • What is the LSP’s cancellation policy? (If you cancel a request for an interpreter, will you be charged?)

  • How long has the language services provider been in business and what’s their reputation?

  • How comfortable are you when you talk to the LSP’s representatives? (You should feel like the LSP’s people are good listeners, trustworthy and accommodating.)

  • Will they provide you with a list of referrals? (If so, do contact the referrals and ask how good their experience with the LSP has been.)

  • Is the LSP involved in the translation and interpretation industry? Are they members of national, regional, or local organizations dedicated to the advancement of the interpretation and translation fields?

Finding answers to all these questions may seem like a lot of work. It is. But the more you know about the language services provider before you enter into a contract the more likely it is that the work will be successful.


iTi | CT Translation Services

iTi’s dedicated and experienced teams offer a wide range of multilingual solutions for domestic and global corporations in a variety of industries. With our expansive resources, you can take advantage of communication services on a global scale, creating, managing, and distributing your content in any format. You are welcome to contact us to request a quote for your language translation project.



Last Updated July-5th-2017

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply