The supply chain for translation, globalization, and localization confounds many organizations seeking the support of language service providers. Even companies with dedicated and experienced procurement staff face challenges in understanding the complexities of pricing, supplier types, services, subcontracting relationships, and specializations available in the global marketplace.

Many companies attempt to address this challenge by creating new Requests for Proposal (RFP) or Requests for Information (RFI) for each project. But most RFP/RFIs are only marginally useful in helping to evaluate service providers. Due to the lack of consistent ways to evaluate vendor capabilities across the spectrum of business needs – for project management, financial management, technology support, quality control, and the like – a true comparison of vendors is difficult. And without an authoritative source of standards, large and expensive challenges in procuring globalization and localization services can arise, from determining what languages are needed, to ensuring competent resources are available, to identifying the technologies necessary to ensure proper management of the project, and more.

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To address this complexity, language industry experts from the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) Collaborative Research, Innovation, and Standards Program (CRISP) formed the Supply Chain Assessment Project (SCAP) working group and carried out research to determine the fundamental parameters by which service providers can be measured and compared. The result was a list of twelve key dimensions in three main areas with a set of questions for each that can help procurement staff compile clear data for evaluation and comparison purposes.

The project explored the dimensions most relevant to assessing a vendor’s capability to execute large language industry projects. While the dimensions can and often do apply to smaller providers, the working group focused on those deemed most important for managing large projects such as those that involve a significant volume of multilingual work outsourced to one or more suppliers.

The dimensions identified provide a useful foundation for developing RFP/RFI and for evaluating language service providers. They are a first step toward developing industry standards for supply chain assessment and evaluation.

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