Lately we’ve been hearing from more clients who need translation services for international RFPs. Submitting a foreign language competitive bid can seem intimidating, but a knowledgeable language service partner can help.
It’s not unusual for our clients to have already used Google Translate to get a cursory read of a foreign language Request for Proposal. This is helpful for getting the overall gist of the document, but automated translation is not what you should use for putting together your proposal.
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Choose the right level of translation quality
We recommend basic-quality professional translation into English for most of the documents bundled in an international request for proposal. A technical translator with subject matter expertise provides the translation, and an in-house review by our project manager ensures the accuracy of the English-language translation. Basic-quality translation is generally about 30% less expensive than publication-quality translation. Some documents may benefit from a publication-quality translation, which includes independent review by a second bilingual subject matter expert followed by in-house QA. Terms and Conditions, performance requirements, and information about local regulations and standards would fall into this category.
When translating your international competitive bid, it’s also not unusual to be working on a tight schedule. After we deliver the English version of the RFP, and while you’re working on the proposal, we can assemble a team of specialists to translate your bid into the target language. If this is your first time translating a proposal into a foreign language, you’ll want to take the following issues into account:
Create a glossary or termbase
It’s important to build a glossary or termbase of key terms and their translations as early as possible. Depending on the number of documents and your turnaround time, the proposal might be split between several linguists working independently to meet your deadline. To ensure consistency, the termbase is key. Either the client provides a list of terms to translate and verify, or our team develops the termbase at the onset of the project.
Create localizable images
Make sure the translatable content of charts, graphs, and diagrams is not embedded in the image. If the text can’t be easily extracted and uploaded, you’ll pay extra to re-create the foreign-language versions of these images from scratch. For details, see our Quick Guide titled Tips on Graphic Design for Translation.
Expect text expansion
English requires fewer characters than many European languages. A translation from English into Spanish can “expand” up to 30% which means it will require more space. This is only a concern if the RFP indicates a page limit.
Take advantage of the Translation Memory
We use software called a CAT tool to create a translation memory (TM) for each client. A TM consists of matched pairs of source text and translated (target) text. If you have boilerplate language that you incorporate into your proposals, the translation memory can be leveraged to speed the process and reduce the cost of future translations into that language.
Take advantage of institutional memory
Institutional memory is an asset as well: if your proposal is successful and wins the contract, your translation partner will already have established the foundation for an ongoing language partnership by maintaining TMs and assembling a team of linguists who are familiar with your business. The initial cost of translation will have been a worthwhile investment.
There are a few additional issues that may arise while translating an international competitive bid, depending on your industry and the language you need. If you are bidding on an international contract and you have additional questions about the process, we are happy to answer them.