Hiring the right language service provider (LSP) is always key to ensuring consistently high-quality translations, but selecting that provider can be a real challenge.

Choosing a very large/multinational LSP that boasts thousands of employees may seem like your safest bet.


You probably assume the biggest LSPs have in-house teams of experts on their payroll to take care of all translation services, so that nothing is entrusted to freelancers.

In fact, that may not be true. And it may not be the real issue.

Not all large LSPs have internal translators

Large translation companies want you to believe they rely primarily, if not exclusively, on in-house translators.

However, most large LSPs depend on freelance translators because they typically cater to clients with high-volume requirements. They also work 24/7/365 across a wide range of industries, time zones, countries and languages. What’s more, most large LSPs are under great financial pressure due to their aggressive translation rates.

Simply put, they wouldn’t be able to operate without extensive networks of freelance translators. After all, dealing with freelancers gives them access to an unlimited pool of resources worldwide so they can offer as much capacity and availability as their clients need, even during the most extreme peak periods. Plus, they don’t have to pay resources who may sit idle during quieter times, so translation costs are lower, which allows for more aggressive translation prices.

Everyone wins. Or do they?

Well, it depends.

Working with freelancers isn’t a problem per se. But it can become a serious problem if the LSP is using underqualified or mismanaged freelancers instead of, or in addition to, internal translators—especially if the internal translators are themselves underqualified or mismanaged.

Why freelancers may spell trouble

Underqualified, underpaid resources

  • To meet their stringent cost-saving goals, many large LSPs use underqualified, underpaid resources to secure a profit in spite of their aggressive translation rates. If they offer you rates far below typical market levels (30% or more, in some cases up to 80%), that’s not a good sign.
  • As for translators, if they take jobs at such low rates, they can’t make a living unless they work fast, which often means too fast. As a result, even good freelance translators are likely to deliver average or low-calibre texts, for sheer lack of time to do better.

Different translators for every job

  • If the LSP neglects to build a specialized language team that’s dedicated to your organization, your translations are randomly assigned to different translators, many of them freelancers who may receive only occasional or after-hours assignments. This approach results in inconsistent translations and a substandard quality level that reflects the translators’ insufficient knowledge of your business thanks to infrequent work on your projects.

Lack of expert internal supervision

  • If the LSP has no internal language experts to assist and supervise freelance resources, and if all freelancer support is provided by project managers with no linguistic qualifications, the translators are simply not given the means to excel and deliver the professional quality your organization’s success requires.

Security issues

  • Since freelance translators work independently and can be based anywhere in the world, your information risks being disseminated with no sufficient security measures to ensure confidentiality.
How can you tell if an LSP you’re dealing with or considering exposes you to these risks?

When in doubt, request detailed profiles for each language professional. These profiles should document the professionals’ education, qualifications, certifications, expertise (geographic regions, industries) as well as their clients and references. If none is available, you can legitimately worry.

So what’s the right approach?

It all starts with smart strategies and processes. The best LSPs diligently commit to three industry best practices when providing professional translation services.

1.  Competitive professional pricing

The best LSPs are committed to fair pricing that reflects—and makes it possible to provide—the quality, security and expertise you expect. They also value transparency, so you know what you’re getting for each dollar you spend. Cost avoidance and savings are an integral part of their financial model, increasing with volume and the proportion of repetitive content.

How can you be sure?
  • Detailed estimates can be provided before each project.
  • A full range of customized reports is available to you upon request.

2.  Qualified language teams

The best LSPs rely on an internal team of qualified language professionals backed by an external network of equally skilled partners. All language experts are pre-screened and their credentials are assessed. They hold a translation degree from a recognized university. They are certified or in the process of becoming certified by a recognized professional translator association, such as OTTIAQ (the Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec) or ATIO (the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario).

Moreover, each client organization has its own dedicated team of internal language experts who collaborate daily with preferred external translators. Client-dedicated teams may include several specialized modules covering specific fields/industries, markets, language combinations, etc. Internal language experts provide their external counterparts with full support, information, supervision, revision and feedback to ensure perfect alignment of work methods and standards, maximum knowledge sharing, and consistent quality.

How can you be sure?
  • The LSP has documents confirming the education, certification and professional affiliation of each language professional, be they internal or external.
  • Translation tests are administered to confirm translators meet and exceed standards.
  • Reference and background checks are performed.
  • Confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements are signed and updated at least annually.
  • Organizational charts of your client team are available.
  • The LSP is pleased to welcome you to its offices to meet the experts who serve you.

3.  Fair treatment of all resources

All internal and external translators are treated by the best LSPs as preferred partners and essential resources, and the LSPs do everything possible to protect and maintain long-term relationships. External resources receive regular assignments, not just occasional or after-hours work. They therefore do their utmost to accommodate the LSP and its clients in order to earn repeat and new business. Compensation is professionally competitive, so that translators are happy to help the LSP deliver the best possible cost-quality ratio. What’s more, additional training and skills upgrades are available online and/or locally to all translators, both internal and external. Recognition programs tangibly demonstrate the LSPs’ appreciation to further build loyalty with all internal and external translators.

How can you be sure?
  • Detailed statistics are available to you upon request.
  • Client references and testimonials can be provided.

With the right approach and resources, going for size does make sense

When choosing an LSP, size really does matter if you want maximum capacity and availability at all times, along with professional quality and guaranteed security. But what you need is a large LSP with healthy balance of qualified internal and external language experts, professionally selected and managed.

Contact Versacom and see for yourself

Versacom guarantees maximum quality, capacity and availability in all the relevant languages, industries and markets by building optimal mixed teams of the best internal and external language experts.

We also leverage technologies and strategies to ensure that all your information remains 100% confidential, whether work is performed by internal or external resources dedicated to your organization.

Ask for a free consultation with our advisors… and come see for yourself!

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