Translation businesses rely on their vendors. Their work and dedication form the basis of what you deliver to your customers. Great results never come by accident. So if you want to provide the best possible quality service you need to start with the way you manage your vendors. Here are 7 important things to keep in mind when you handle them.
- Long-term Relationships are key, but need commitment from your side
Building long-term relationships with your clients is key to establishing a solid revenue base. But if returning clients are important, so are long-term vendor relationships. In-house vendors can only cover a portion of the demand you are serving. Build lasting relationships with clients and external vendors who provide services for them. It will bear fruit in quality, speed and revenue.
- Constant Vendor Evaluation is Crucial
Quality in translation is measurable and manageable. At its root lies the quality of the work delivered by your vendors. You should establish a model for evaluating them, and stick to it. It will enable you to assign vendors based on their past work evaluation. You will also gain a great tool in managing both your vendors and quality standards. The vendors, knowing that they are being evaluated, will ensure they produce high quality work.
There are many ways to establish a translation quality metric. The Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA) created a de-facto standard in this area. It introduced a scoring system that measures the severity of issues in a translation.
Although now defunct as an organization, the LISA evaluation model is still valid. And it is supported by several tools. These range from spreadsheets and CAT tools, through to large Translation Management Systems. It is up to you to choose the one that best suits your needs.
- Tailor your vendor lists to match your customer
No two customers and projects are ever the same. Your vendors also vary in quality, price and specialization. Your should segment your vendor pool to match services with best-suited vendors. Knowing the market areas your vendor can cover reduces the time spent on ad-hoc assignment decisions. A vendor list tailored for each job will also improve your margin by optimizing costs.
- Use the cascade technique to avoid overbooking
Asking many vendors if they will take a job is tedious and error-prone. You risk wasting a lot of time in resolving conflicts if more than one accept the offer. It not only delays the whole process, but can cause two or more vendors to take the same job.
Use the cascading technique to avoid this situation. Only one vendor should get the job offer – the one most suitable for the task. The offer should have a short expiry time – in the order of hours, if not minutes. If the assigned vendor does not pick it up within the allotted time, the next vendor in line is notified. That way you reduce the chance of multiple assignments for the same job and make the best use of your vendor pool.
- Share feedback
With the constant flow of projects, it is easy to lose the connection between the translator and the client. Keep track of your customer feedbacks and share them with your vendors. This simple act will not only help them to improve but will also serve as a great motivator. They will feel appreciated and not treated as just cogs in a machine. On the other hand, building personal connections with your customer will strengthen your relationship and improve performance.
- Track vendor calendars
Vendors have other commitments besides the jobs that you send them. Keep track of their vacations, external commitments or long-term projects you ordered. This shows respect and maximizes vendor efficiency by not disturbing them. You will gain their gratitude and mutual respect. It is important for building lasting relationships with them.
- Do not play favorites
Having a more formal and detailed assignment procedure, helps not to “play favorites”. It is natural, that your best vendors get the most work. But over time it leads to reduced quality. This is due to both work overload on the vendor’s side and not enough focus on specialization from your side. No vendor is a specialist in every area. Keep track of your vendor performance in each of your market segments. It will improve your quality when assignments are well matched with specializations. It will motivate you to dig deeper into your vendor pool in search of hidden gems. And, most importantly, it will prevent burnout in your most trusted vendors.
Vendors, whether they are in-house or external, freelancers or organizations, are the lifeblood of the industry. The way you manage them will impact your quality, speed and ability to deliver. And that, in turn, will be reflected in your bottom line.