How to Shake Up Your Translation RFP in Times of Crisis

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Translation requests for proposals (RFP) processes are without a doubt, resource-intensive, both for clients and for vendors preparing their responses. But although the RFP process can be useful for many reasons, it doesn’t have to be done “the same old way” every time.

With RFP season already running and with the eminent recession hitting localization budgets, it will be important to maintain high-quality translations while reining in costs. But how to achieve quick wins when the RFP process can sometimes be so lengthy?

It’s time to shake things up and take out the components of the RFP process that work most effectively and combine them with newer methods of vetting talent, and that's exactly what we did.

Below we bring five ways to shake things up on your future translation RFPs, so that you’re equipped to make faster data-driven decisions to better navigate these uneasy times.

1. Speed dating

Some companies have implemented a quick bid solution by sending potential partners a brief RFI—Request for Information. Business stakeholders prepare a one-page requirements document with an overview of their main challenges or needs. Next, schedule a video conference that poses a series of additional questions to the vendor and give them a limited timeframe to respond verbally.

This process helps clients to put faces and personalities to the vendors’ responses and understand if they’re authentic and confident about their capabilities.

Depending on the scope of work, the project can be awarded after this Q&A or you can continue with the process with a much shorter list of vendors.

2. Pre-RFP meeting

Once you’ve selected your shortlist of potential partners, invite each of them to visit you in person for a pre-RFP meeting. During the visit, they’ll get to become familiar with your teams, processes, current tech landscape, as well as your business culture and way of doing things.

When you launch the RFP, vendors will be able to tailor their response much more to your needs and challenges, as they have a much better understanding of your requirements, which can reduce many back-and-forth requests for information down the line.

3. Proof of concept (POC)

Another alternative is to institute a of concept (PoC). This not only helps to manage risk, it allows new, innovative technologies or services to come in, understand how they may add value, and quantify that value to the organization in a scalable way.

Through its iterative process, the PoC allows for collaboration and innovation in a way the traditional RFP might not, which also helps to get other key stakeholders in your organization to buy into the change.

3. Scope of Work

Send a short list of prequalified vendors a scope of work (SOW) describing your business needs in detail. Then ask each vendor to come up with a creative, customized proposal response to your SOW.

You can provide a template for answers to ensure consistency and make it easier to compare later, but let them determine how they want to respond and what additional information they feel it’s necessary to include.

4. A Reverse RFP

In the traditional RFP process, the Q&A process allows vendors to ask questions to better customize their proposal to the client’s specificities. If you’re looking to really experiment and shake things around, you could make this your RFP.

Allow a short list of potential partners to ask no more than 10 questions each about your unique business challenges and then provide a proposal that aims to help you solve those challenges.

5. Video RFP

When you’re assessing potential partners for highly creative localization services for elearning, marketing content or even websites and apps, receiving proposals in the standard Word/Pdf formats might not help potential partners to showcase their true capabilities.

Instead, allow vendors to produce their RFP response in a five- to 10-minute video that tells their unique story. Allow the vendor to get as creative as they want within the framework of your RFP guidelines on required/suggested topics and video length.

Final thoughts

Of course, no one knows exactly what the future holds. But if an economic recession occurs, it will exacerbate the current challenges already facing organizations. When assessing a potential translation partner, be sure to factor in values like humility, a willingness to embrace uncertainty and adapt rapidly in response to your circumstances.

For more translation RFP best practices and proven strategies for planning an RFP that will help you achieve your business targets while bringing down costs, check out Acolad’s Complete Step-by-Step Guide to a Successful Translation RFP.


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