How to Create a Translation Tech RFP
Launching a localization initiative in your company is a layered process. You need to develop a localization strategy, get buy-in from stakeholders, and find ways to best optimize your internal processes. One essential step is selecting the right translation management system (TMS) to centralize your workflow and maximize translation spend. You need a solution that meets all your requirements from a provider that will work with you as a partner and help you penetrate new markets with ease.
Creating a translation technology RFP (request for proposal) will help you sift through the multitude of TMS providers and find one that ticks all your boxes. This guide will walk you through the RFP creation step by step so that you ask the right questions and streamline the selection process.
Before you start…
Step 1: Define your project and needs
Before creating the RFP, you need to outline your needs and clarify the desired outcome. You’ll also need to consider who to involve in the process. You may want to include stakeholders from different teams as well as those with localization know-how. You need to decide:
- Who will create the RFP?
- Who should be consulted in defining the requirements?
- Who will evaluate the results?
- Who will attend demos?
- Who will test final candidate platforms?
Step 2: Gather expertise
Use your contacts wisely. If you have trusted partners with links to the industry, ask them to help draft the TMS RFP requirements. They may be more attuned to workflows and specific set-ups.
Step 3: Get organized
There are many tools on the market to help streamline the RFP process. This will help you create, manage, and store your RFPs and keep the process centralized and organized.
Security is a key concern when adding new tools to your tech stack. Check in with your IT department to stay ahead of security concerns before getting started. You don’t want to go through the entire RFP process and shortlist candidates only to find they don’t meet your security standards.
Creating your TMS RFP
Step 4: Provide Background information
Write an introduction that provides an overview of the project and background information so vendors can see right away if they’re a good fit or if it’s worth bidding on. You can also include history about similar projects. Share details about your existing localization processes and desired process to allow candidates to tailor their responses to demonstrate how their solutions will suit your specific needs.
Step 5: Describe your projects requirements
Don’t be scared to dig into the details.
- Be explicit about the goals of the project; spell out your expectations of how you want to collaborate with the chosen vendor.
- Be specific about how the tool will be used and who will be using it.
- Ask for examples and concrete details rather than eliciting yes or no answers.
- Be clear about constraints. Do you have a dedicated team of developers to help customize? API specialists?
Step 6: Rank requirements
Create a list of requirements and rank them by importance. Decide which features are must-haves and which are nice-to-have. For example, if your company uses an online repository, perhaps a connector to that tool is a must-have. Maybe you don’t yet employ machine translation but want to keep your options open for the future—connections to MT engines would be nice to have.
It’s essential to get feedback from your stakeholders as different teams will have different must-haves. It may be difficult to decide whose requirements will top the list, but this process will help rule out some contenders. Be firm on deal breakers. If you’re clear on which functionalities are critical, vendors can disqualify themselves, wasting less of your time evaluating proposals that aren’t a good fit.
Step 7: Outline selection criteria
Decide how to evaluate the responses. You can create a ranking system to weigh the importance of each feature based on candidates’ responses, and narrow down your search according to the score. You’ll be able to differentiate between the passable vendors and the ones that will get the job done. If you are casting a wide net, include an automated way to evaluate. That way you can evaluate only the top contenders. Avoid sharing your selection criteria with vendors in order to receive the answers that reflect reality rather than the answers you want to hear.
Step 8: Explain how vendors should respond
Provide guidelines to ensure you’re getting the comprehensive answers you need to make informed decisions. It will reduce the need for multiple emails trying to clarify points with potential candidates. Indicate whether you are looking for yes or no answers and specify the length when you require more in-depth answers.
Step 9: Clarify timelines
Finally, you need to outline the next steps and provide a timeline so vendors can block off time for future phases if needed.
Pitfalls to avoid
To guarantee a smooth RFP process with limited back-and-forth you need to:
- Avoid vague requirements. Be specific and go into detail when you can.
- Limit yes/no answers. These leave too much room for varied approaches.
- Provide enough background information. If you don’t, the answers won’t be tailored to your specific use case.
Once the responses start rolling in, you’ll kick-off the evaluation process. Don’t make a selection based on first impressions and glossy proposals. Do your research, check references, and stick to your selection criteria. Once you’ve shortlisted candidates you can proceed with tool demos, testing, and negotiating.