How to choose an LSP in 2023 (+ checklist)


Expanding a company and going global in modern times can feel overwhelming. There's plenty of instability, inflation, disrupted supply chains, and a noticeable overall increase in the cost of living. And let's face it: We're still dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic. 

So we don't blame you if entering the international market can seem daunting and unsafe at this time. However, we're also here to tell you that going global can bring plenty of growth and opportunities. Just take a look at the e-commerce industry. A growth of 50% is predicted in the next 3 years, reaching .4 trillion US dollars in 2025, so there's definitely room for expansion in the very near future. Entering different markets can actually help reduce risks, as investments in various locales will be affected differently by world events and changes in the economy. 

But what truly matters if you want to go global with success – speaking your client's language and having a localization strategy. This is where language service providers enter the stage. If you haven't found a language service provider yet, keep on reading to learn why language service providers are an essential part of your market expansion strategy and how to choose the right one. 

What is a language service provider or LSP? 

A language service provider, or LSP, is a type of company that offers various services related to languages and translation. An LSP helps build communication between the brand and its audiences outside of its original language and culture. An LSP can be an agency, a company, or an individual. Not every LSP will provide the same set of services, so it's important to know what your needs are and what language and translation services your potential partner offers. 

There are different localization models, each with a different set of benefits. Here's a quick recap: 

  • In-house localization. This means there's a localization team and a localization manager within your organization. There's direct access to specific brand knowledge and it's easier to keep a consistent tone of voice and stay on brand. However, starting an in-house team can be quite expensive and time-consuming. Not the best option if you want to get started on your localization process right away.

  • Freelance localization. Freelance translators and localization specialists carry out the language translation. This model is a good choice for simpler tasks and project-based collaborations. 

  • Outsourced localization. Similar to freelance localization, outsourcing localization means a localization team outside of your organization performs localization services for you. This allows you to tackle more complex projects and scale localization but can lead to poor-quality translation if the partner uses a one-size-fits-all approach.

  • Mixed (or hybrid) localization. Localization tasks are delegated to different vendors. This speeds up the localization process when you actually get to it but the preparation time can be time-consuming and overwhelming.

  • Agile localization. The agile localization model combines the best of both worlds – outsourced and in-house localization into a single language service partner. It's similar to having your in-house team but without the cost. There's no need to deal with several service providers, and there's only one point of contact, less admin work, and higher project efficiency. 

How to choose the right LSP 

Now that you know the different localization models, how do you actually pick the right LSP? We recommend using this nine-question checklist to see if you and your language service provider will be a good fit:

  1. What languages do you cover? Getting to the bottom of the basics is necessary and will help you see right away if the partner covers the languages of the markets you want to tap into.

  2. What type of workflow do you offer? Does the LSP work with continuous localization or project-based workflow? How flexible are they in their offering? 

  3. What's your expertise in the specific niche? Can the LSP handle your niche/industry with precision and offer high-quality translations within this field?

  4. What's your experience? Ask your LSP if they have any social proof and what's their previous client base. Positive reviews from companies in your related niche are always a good sign. 

  5. Do you have the ability to integrate with TMS and CMS systems technically? Which file formats is the LSP able to process and work with?

  6. Can you handle the volume I will provide? It's important to understand the volume of translation you will need and if the LSP will be able to handle it (especially important for large-scale projects). Make sure to cover the frequency of your collaboration. 

  7. What services do you offer? Is it only translations without any QA, or full-service translations? 

  8. How qualified are your translators? Do they have knowledge of the specific industry and market, and certifications? 

  9. What is your pricing? Make sure to learn what the LSP's price structures are against the services provided. 

Pro tip: We highly recommend not fixating on just one aspect of the LSP (for example, low price or fast delivery). Try to take into account the full scope of your potential partnership and see how they compare to your needs. Be honest with yourself and the LSP if your profiles don't match. There will be other professional translation and localization services out there that will be a better match.

Our next best LSP, where art thou?

Did you recognize the shout-out to the brilliant Coen brother comedy starring George Clooney? Just like creating cultural references, finding an LSP in 2023 does not have to be difficult. Start with the 9-question checklist to see if your LSP will be a good fit in your international marketing strategy. For example, we can already give you a couple of answers.

Here at Language Inspired, we work with the agile localization model. We're a proudly ISO 17100-certified language service provider for software, web, mobile app, and e-commerce companies. We don't believe in a cookie-cutter approach, so we provide tailor-made localization services in over 200+ languages.

If you still have questions like what is localization and want to learn more about our approach, there's more to learn in our blog. Or if you're ready to go global, get in touch with our experts today! 

On the 19.04.2023. SIA “Language Inspired” has signed an agreement Nr. SKV-L2023/208 with Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA) within the project “International competitiveness promotion”, which is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

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