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Why and How to Switch Localization Vendors

When your company began localizing its materials, the project may have had a limited scope, focusing on a single language or location. In this situation, it can make sense to work with a single-language localization vendor who specializes in the part of the world into which you’re expanding. Over time, however, localization projects can easily outgrow this model. As your business adds languages and locales, small or single-language vendors may not be able to meet your growing needs.

At this point, businesses have two main choices: 

  1. Go with multiple single-language vendors
  2. Switch to a multi-language vendor who can handle broader scope and grow with you

Why to Consider Switching Vendors

Your current vendor may be doing well enough handling your initial markets and locales.  However, you’re growing and will soon need to add languages, implement technology, and increase volume. You will need an agency that can offer you better pricing based on volume, improved processes, centralized technology, more languages, more complete services, and better innovation. A reliable multi-language vendor (MLV) can help.

Let’s explore some of the benefits of the MLV model:

Centralized Project Management

When you work with one localization vendor, it becomes simpler to coordinate all your localization activities. You can centralize project management, streamline communication, and help ensure your materials maintain consistent quality and messaging across languages and locales. When you have one point of contact with a vendor who manages everything related to your program, it becomes easier to manage workflows, control project timelines, and maintain accountability across localization efforts.

Technology Implementations

Multi-language vendors often use technology such as translation memory, machine translation, and terminology management systems that can help ensure unified messaging while reducing the time and effort needed to add new languages and locations. When working with one MLV, technology can be implemented across the whole program, yielding larger cost, quality, and speed benefits. 

Onboarding once

When a vendor becomes familiar with your processes, products, and materials, you can avoid the need to teach new localization providers about your business every time you want to add a language or a deliverable. Instead, your team can focus on ensuring one core vendor has essential information about your products and services, audience, and value proposition. They can then apply that knowledge across languages and localization efforts. 

Reduced Costs

Working with one multi-language vendor can present opportunities for volume discounts, allowing your company to more easily and cost-effectively scale localization efforts. In addition to enjoying service discounts, your company could save money by reducing administrative costs. Employees can save time by communicating with and processing invoices from only one vendor instead of several.

Ongoing partnership and collaboration 

When you work with just one localization vendor, your business can enjoy a closer working relationship that supports more effective collaboration. You can work together on process improvements and innovations that benefit your program over the long term.

Steps to Take When Switching Vendors

While switching localization vendors can ultimately save time and money, the changeover process can be disruptive and time consuming. A successful onboarding process is crucial. Follow the steps below to set your business up for success with your new MLV.

Prepare Your Assets

Provide the vendor with clean, well maintained TMs so they can leverage translation work that has already been completed and approved. Make sure they are easily accessible and well organized. Also, make up-to-date glossaries and style guides available so they can quickly align their efforts with your company’s language and voice. 

Provide Product Training

Develop product training sessions to familiarize the new vendor with your company and its products. Make sure the vendor understands your company’s mission and values as well as its products, their features, technical specifications, and unique selling points. Include an overview of your company’s glossary and style guide so the vendor understands how to use these resources appropriately to create translations that are accurate and consistent with existing materials.

Document Your Company’s Needs and Goals

Make your company’s needs and objectives clear from the beginning of its relationship with a new localization vendor. By documenting these at the outset, you can avoid misunderstandings and give your vendor a complete view of the localization project and what your company hopes to accomplish with it. Be sure to include

  • A list of languages for which you’re seeking support
  • Descriptions of the target audiences for each language, including regional nuances that you’ve identified for consideration
  • A detailed list of the types of content to be created (for example, marketing materials, technical manuals, or software) and specific requirements for each type 
  • The anticipated scope of work, including translation volume and localization timelines
  • Key milestones and deadlines

Share Post-Mortem Content

It’s immensely helpful to share the knowledge you’ve gained through previous localization efforts. Provide content that illustrates what you’ve struggled with in the past and how the new vendor can best support your localization project moving forward. Share the challenges that you’ve encountered with previous vendors as well as what has worked well in the past so they can build on your successes. By giving the vendor the benefit of your experience, you can facilitate a more efficient and effective partnership from day one.

Create Process Documentation

If you’ve not yet done so, develop documentation of your localization processes to share with the vendor. Describe workflows, including the content creation, review, and approval processes.  Make sure to specify communication channels to be used, define reporting structures, and outline your company’s procedures for escalating issues. 

Define Ownership

Clearly define individual roles and responsibilities within your localization program. Identify a primary internal contact for your localization vendor (usually your project manager), and share specific points of contact for issues that may arise. 


Make sure your internal teams are aware of your new localization vendor and that employees understand their roles in the onboarding process. Don’t forget to loop in other stakeholders who also may be affected by the change in vendors.

Hold a Kickoff and Get Started

Once you’ve got all your documentation in place, defined these roles, and alerted all key players, hold a kickoff so all parties can meet each other and start the working relationship. Then, establish a mechanism for ongoing feedback and improvement. Make sure there is a process for regular performance assessment, identification of potential issues, and collaboration on solutions. 

Is It Time for a New Language Provider?

If your business is expanding into new territories, working with a MLV can help you deliver consistent, high-quality materials across diverse markets while saving time and money. That said, switching providers requires thoughtful planning, thorough communication, and processes that support collaboration and continuous improvement. Effective onboarding is key to avoiding unnecessary disruptions and fostering a great relationship with your new language vendor. By paying close attention to the steps described above, you smooth the transition process. 

For more information about gaining capabilities by switching vendors and switching without friction, connect with one of our consultants here. 

About Language Network

Language Network is a language solutions company specializing in interpretation, translation, and localization services for government, healthcare, and international businesses. Language Network provides critical language access and support in over 200 languages. For more information, visit www.languagenetworkusa.com.

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