Finding the right medical translation services provider is an important aspect of any project. While inexperienced managers or project leads might focus on finding the lowest price or zero-in on a freelancer promising quick turnaround, experienced professionals see hiring the right language service provider (LSP) as an investment.

Most of the time, in the life sciences, the need for translation and localization services does not arise on an occasional basis. This means when you choose a translation provider, you aren’t choosing someone for a particular project in isolation. You are choosing a translation partner with whom you want to establish a longer term relationship, which will absolutely save you time and energy. This article offers our best suggestions for finding an LSP who you can trust.

3 Benefits of Finding a Language Service Partner

Once you find the right service provider, you will want to take steps to nurture the relationship. If you enter the engagement process with the mindset of looking for a language partner, rather than simply a service provider, you are likely to have a better overall experience.

Choose a language partner who can provide a complete language solution. Not only will this save you stress and headaches going through the process of getting someone new up to speed on your company and details of the project every few weeks, but it has three additional benefits:

  1. A Language Partner Ensures Consistency: Having a commitment or contracting with a translation company ensures consistency of translations across projects and business units. The necessity of consistency for medical translation services should be obvious. But also, from a marketing perspective, having consistent language is a crucial aspect of your brand’s messaging. If your message in a secondary language is inconsistent, it will directly impact your bottom line.
  2. A Language Partner Saves Money Over Time: When your LSP compiles a translation memory (TM) that covers your projects specifically, you will have a glossary of terms that you can refer to and hand over to anyone getting involved at a later date. This will speed up future translation projects.
  3. A Language Partner Opens Up Potential Price Negotiation: As a loyal customer, you may be eligible for discounts or be in a position to re-negotiate prices with your provider. Prices on medical translation services vary widely, which is another reason to find an LSP you can trust. With a language partner, you have more leverage to push for transparency on pricing and know that you are getting what you pay for as a result.

Think About the Future

Even if the needs of this project focus on a particular translation service, e.g., telephone interpretation to answer customer service questions for consumers or to survey clinical trial participants, it makes sense to find an LSP that is capable of providing additional medical translation services.

The need for additional services can arise suddenly and it helps to have reliable resources ready and available to take your call. Suppose your clinical trial goes the way you expect and approval comes through quickly, you may end up needing onsite interpretation (face-to-face interpretation), video remote interpretation, and certified document translations.

Step 1: Figure Out Your Criteria

You can be prepared for this possibility, though, if you sit down with your team to brainstorm what types of translation and localization services you may need down the road. Then come up with a checklist of criteria to use whenever you begin your search for the right LSP.

Here are some points to get you started:

  • Look for an LSP who is familiar with the conventions and jargon of your industry. Make sure your partner can adequately support the needs of your industry. Clearly, you wouldn’t want to hire a literary translator for medical translation services. At DTS Language Services, Inc., we provide language solutions for pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, clinical research organizations (CROs), patient recruitment companies, and healthcare providers.
  • Look for an LSP with high standards. Ask how they vet their translators and what training or testing they perform during the hiring process. Additionally, ask about the quality assurance process. If a potential language partner doesn’t seem to meet your standards, their translations probably won’t meet your standards either.
  • Look for an LSP to cover multiple languages. For your language partner to be able to grow with the needs of your company, you should look for an LSP that can offer coverage in a diversity of languages. We offer three tiers of languages at DTS because we understand there’s no one-size-fits all here.

Get to Know Your Translator

Once you have your checklist and know what you’re looking for in a language translation partner, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and find the right one. Interviewing potential language partners is a little bit like dating. You might talk on the phone with several prospects to set up a coffee or lunch. But before you get to that point, you want to get a sense of the pool of potential partners available.

Step 2: Come Up with a Shortlist

Word of mouth is a great way to find a language company who is trustworthy and could be a great fit. So, tap into your network to get to know who’s out there. Customer testimonials can be helpful at this stage too. But beware of relying only on what the company provides on their website. You simply can’t know from your vantage point if these are representative of the whole body of work or even if they are recent recommendations.

Instead, ask your shortlist of candidates to provide you with customer referrals, who you can get on the phone to answer your pressing questions. Ask specifically for references who have had projects completed in your subject matter and industry. Social media is also a great place to checkout what the public is saying about a given vender.

Step 3: Ask for a Sample Translation

From here, make a shortlist and ask each serious potential for a test translation. Send each one a short, but representative document accompanied with guidelines including company specific abbreviations and jargon. Be prepared to pay for your sample translation, as many agencies will not agree to do a free test translation.

Step 4: Consider Non-Linguistic Assets

Finally, consider the non-linguistic assets of each of your shortlist candidates. Some of the most important factors in making this decision are not related to language expertise. Being responsive, personable, transparent, and delivering high-quality translations on time are important criteria.

Technology is also a must for a great language provider. Medical translation services often involve sharing large documents and if your LSP can’t provide an easy platform for doing so, you and your staff could lose hours trying to get everyone the tools and materials they need to get the job done. This is precisely why we at DTS Language Services, Inc. invested in a portal that makes sharing documents, tracking the status of a project, and archiving projects fast and easy. We’d be happy to provide a free demo. Contact us today!

Step 5: Choose Your Language Partner

The above should give you the information you need to make a great decision. This process might seem more complicated than you expected, but what’s worth doing is worth doing right. In choosing the best language service provider now, you are saving yourself time and money in the long-term.

Finding the right medical translation services provider—one who shares your values and will make you look your best is one of the most important ingredients for the success of any translation project. With these suggestions, the process will be easier and ultimately more successful.