Talking to numerous corporate clients, I remain surprised how many simply accept that the easiest way to address your localization needs is to deal with a single supplier who “understands” your needs. While I understand and respect that having a single supplier and a good working relationship with a supplier (possibly getting volume discounts in return) provides a comfortable relationship for both parties, multi-sourcing may be another option to consider. To be clear, multi-sourcing is not the answer for every need, but if you have the kind of organization that localizes regularly, has a diversity of tasks, domains, and languages, then multi-sourcing may be an option to consider. Why may you ask? Well, apart from the obvious reason that having multiple suppliers keeps them on their toes, you may not get the best service at a competitive price over time and for all services. For translation alone, differences in domain, language but also subdomain (marketing versus engineering as an example) requires different skills and not all providers have all skills in house or access to the relevant subject matter experts, so varying suppliers based on specialization may be one approach to multi-sourcing. Furthermore, different views, different providers hopefully applying industry best practices differently keeps everyone sharp, helps to ensure you get what you pay for and ensures you remain an informed buyer.
However, before delving in any further, it is worthwhile taking a closer look at what a typical Language Service Provider (LSP) actually does. Most LSP’s employ relatively little staff, focusing mainly on (project) management, sales, QA, and possibly some IT while often souring the actual translation services in from freelancers and other LSP’s with specific capabilities. And there lies the crux. The key added value in the value chain that the LSP provides is understanding the customer need and advising the customer, and subsequently using a well-established network and internal processes to ensure the customer gets what they require on time, on budget and at the required quality levels. Managing that process well takes a lot of skill, experience, and organization. However, customers single sourcing “force” the LSP to hand off work they are not well suited to deliver to other LSP’s thereby extending and complicating the supply chain. At that stage, LSP’s trying to meet customers’ needs add cost and complexity while complicating the supply chain.
This means that if you do require volumes of localization regularly, you need to take a close look at your localization workload and ensure that at a minimum work that is performed structurally ideally goes to more than one party and that the party with the relevant skills takes the job rather than adding margin and passing it on, adding cost, complexity, and uncertainty. In these cases, multi-sourcing becomes an interesting option.
But implementing multi-sourcing isn’t that simple either unfortunately, it requires discipline and well-defined processes. Once implemented, however, most organizations report lower cost and better quality. In order to support customers, move to multi-sourcing, Loquell has developed a complete marketplace solution that allows you to perform all your workflow management, procurement and localization efforts, including supplier interactions, in a single, globally scalable platform. Whether you are a local SMB with regular localization work or a global corporate, our consultants can help you design a single platform around your needs, integrating with all your existing localization infrastructure where it exists.