Smartling's Guide to Creating an RFP

Indetify the elements of a solution most important to your business to determine the best option.


Creating a translation RFP is an important milestone for your company. We know this because over the years, we’ve responded to hundreds of them.

And as a result, we’ve learned a few things that we think buyers can do differently to achieve better results.

A Successful RFP Requires The Right Approach

The most common pitfall is that customers haven’t identified what’s most important to their business. What your company values is almost certainly going to be different from what another company values - even if you operate in the same business vertical.

For example, a fast-fashion brand like Zara will care more about getting to market quickly, whereas luxury brand Louis Vuton may more deeply value translation quality.

Recognizing your company’s localization culture is square one. Designing the translation RFP around this culture is the next step.

How To Create an RFP

Here are some tips that will enable you to conduct the most efficient evaluation so you can identify the most qualified the translation vendor.

  1. What are your business objectives and goals?
    To help you understand the best translation services and technology options for you, your potential providers need to consider your use case. Without this, vendors are throwing darts in the dark. Don’t leave them guessing! Let them know what you need, and they will reply with the most relevant answers.

  2. What has been your experience with translation services and technology providers?
    Providers will want to know your greatest successes to date and what’s missing. They’re not here to completely reinvent the wheel - just to optimize your translation process.

  3. How do you plan on measuring success?
    Ideally, the solution you choose brings value to your company (of course!). Your translation services and/or technology provider should be able to prove this value. Some KPIs to consider:A) Increased businessB) Decreased overheadC) Saved time and moneyD) Increased translation quality

  4. How is your internal team currently set up?
    An API solution for a team with no engineering support? A highly customizable set of features for a localization team of zero? It’s like a fish out of water! Providers often have different solutions to match different team set-ups. Examples of information to let your providers know before you send that RFP:A) Do you have a localization team?B) Do you have a developer center of excellence with creating apps for international markets?C) Do you have a marketing team involved with your company’s international websites?

  5. What do you absolutely need in a technology or language services solution to set your team up for success?
    If you have specific needs in mind already, it’s easier for providers to give a clear-cut yes or no answer and help you use process of elimination to narrow down options.Need a place to begin? Our sample RFP template outlines the best questions to ask to assess your own business requirements and identify the appropriate translation solution.

Need Some Help?

Need a place to begin? Our sample RFP template outlines the best questions to ask to assess your own business requirements and identify the appropriate translation solution.

About Jennifer

Jennifer Chew is the Product Marketing Manager at Smartling, responsible for overseeing go-to-market for Smartling's new products and features, and creates content to educate customers and buyers on benefits and best practices of using Smartling Translation Cloud. Jennifer has been a part of the Smartling team for over two years, previously contributing as the Marketing Manager, and collectively has over five years of B2B and B2C marketing experience.