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Crafting a Winning Translation RFP: A Comprehensive Guide for Various Industries

Translation RFPCreating a Request for Proposal (RFP) for translation services can significantly impact the success of your localization efforts. This guide aims to provide you with a step-by-step process to craft a comprehensive translation RFP that will help you find the best translation partner for your needs.

By following these guidelines, you can streamline the RFP process, ensure all necessary details are covered, and ultimately achieve better results from your translation projects.


Understanding the Translation RFP

What is a Translation RFP?

A Translation RFP is a formal document issued by an organization to solicit bids from language service providers (LSPs) for specific translation and localization projects. It outlines the project’s scope, requirements, and evaluation criteria, enabling companies to compare and select the best vendor based on detailed proposals.


Why is it Important?

A well-structured RFP helps ensure that you receive accurate and competitive proposals from vendors, facilitating informed decision-making. It also clarifies project expectations and fosters better communication between your organization and potential LSPs.


Key Components of a Translation RFP

  1. Project Overview

    Provide a detailed description of your project, including objectives, target audience, timelines, and the type of content to be translated.

  2. Company Background

    Share relevant information about your company, including its mission, industry, and previous translation experiences, or even the pain points.

  3. Scope of Work

    Outline the specific tasks and deliverables expected from the vendor. This section should be detailed and clear, covering aspects such as:

    • The volume and types of content to be translated (e.g., web pages, technical manuals, marketing materials).
    • The number of languages required and any regional variations or locales.
    • Expectations for localization beyond mere translation, such as engineering, cultural adaptation, and SEO optimization.
    • Delivery requirements including project timeframe and file formats.
    • Requirements for periodic updates or ongoing translation needs.
    • The need for the creation and maintenance of glossaries and style guides.
    • Specifics about the review and approval process, including any required iterations and feedback loops.
    • Integration with your systems, such as CMS connectors or API integration for automated workflows.
    • Use of Translation Memory (TM) tools and the requirement for leveraging existing TMs to ensure consistency and cost-efficiency.
    • The application of Neural Machine Translation (NMT) with human post-editing for large volumes of content (if this is a particular service you are interested in).
  1. Technical Requirements

    Specify any technology or tools the vendor must use, such as Translation Management Systems (TMS), Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools, or specific file formats. This ensures compatibility and smooth integration with your existing systems.

  2. Quality Assurance

    Detail your quality expectations, including translation accuracy, consistency, and any required certifications (e.g., ISO 17100:2015). Describe your quality assurance process and any specific metrics or benchmarks to be met.

  3. Security Requirements

    Detail your security requirements (such as ISO 27001: 2013-Information Security) to ensure the translation agencies have policies, procedures, guidelines, and associated resources necessary to protect themselves and your company and data from business and legal risks.

  4. Timeline and Deadlines

    Provide a clear timeline for the project, including milestones and final deadlines.

  5. Budget

    While not always mandatory, offering a budget range can help vendors propose solutions within your financial constraints. Be transparent about your budget to attract suitable and realistic proposals.

  6. Vendor Qualifications

    Request detailed information about the vendor’s qualifications, including experience, team structure, client references, and ISO certifications.

  7. Evaluation Criteria

    Define the criteria you will use to evaluate proposals, such as cost, quality, turnaround time, and technical capabilities.

Tailored Examples for Various Industries

Hotel and Hospitality

Project Overview:

We require translation services for our hotel’s website, including booking information, service descriptions, and customer reviews into five languages: Spanish (Spain), French (France), German (Germany), Chinese (Simplified), and Japanese using the Sitecore content management system.

Scope of Work:

Translate approximately 50,000 words of web content. Ensure cultural relevance and local SEO optimization for each language. Include periodic updates as new content is added.

Quality Assurance:

Translations must adhere to ISO 17100 standards. The vendor should provide a glossary of terms and perform linguistic testing to ensure accuracy.

A luxury hotel chain needed to translate its website and mobile app content into multiple languages to cater to international guests. By issuing a detailed RFP, they received proposals from LSPs with expertise in hospitality and tourism, ensuring culturally accurate translations that enhanced the guest experience.



Project Overview:

We need translation services for financial reports, investment prospectuses, and marketing collateral into four languages: Spanish (Mexico), French (France), German (Germany), and Chinese (Simplified).

Scope of Work:

Translate 60,000 words of financial documents. Ensure precision in financial terminology and adherence to local financial regulations.

Quality Assurance:

Translations must be compliant with ISO 9001 standards. The vendor should provide a style guide and glossary of financial terms.


A multinational bank needed to translate its annual reports and marketing materials into several languages to communicate effectively with stakeholders worldwide. The RFP highlighted the need for financial expertise, resulting in precise and professional translations.


Digital Agency

Project Overview:

We require translation services for digital marketing campaigns, including social media posts, blog articles, and email newsletters into six languages: Spanish (Latin America), French (Canada), German (Germany), Italian (Italy), Japanese, and Korean (South Korea).

Scope of Work:

Translate and localize 40,000 words of marketing content, ensuring cultural relevance and local SEO optimization.

Technical Requirements:

Use of Adobe InDesign for translating and formatting digital assets. Maintain brand voice and consistency across all languages.


A digital marketing agency needed multilingual content for its clients’ global campaigns. By issuing a detailed RFP, they attracted vendors with marketing expertise and digital content translation experience, ensuring effective and engaging content across different markets.


Considerations for Technology in Translation RFPs

  1. Technology in Translation RFPsTranslation Services Connectors for CMS

    Modern translation services often integrate with various content management systems (CMS) like Sitecore, Drupal, Kentico, Contentful, Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), HubSpot, Optimizely, Umbraco, HCL Digital Experience, and many more.

    Specify in your RFP if you need the vendor to use connectors that allow seamless integration between your CMS and their translation tools. This can streamline the translation process by automating content export and import, reducing manual errors, and speeding up turnaround times.

  2. Translation Memory (TM) Tools

    Translation Memory tools store previously translated content for reuse in future translations, ensuring consistency and reducing costs. Indicate if the vendor should use specific TM tools like SDL Trados or memoQ. Ensure they maintain and update the TM for your projects to leverage past translations effectively.

  3. Neural Machine Translation (NMT) and Post-Editing

    Neural Machine Translation (NMT) offers advanced translation capabilities by leveraging AI. Specify if you require NMT to handle large volumes of text quickly, with human post-editing to ensure quality. Post-editing involves reviewing and refining the NMT output to meet your quality standards, and approved glossary terms, combining the efficiency of AI with human expertise.


Creating a successful translation RFP requires careful planning and attention to detail. By following the steps outlined in this guide and tailoring your RFP to your industry-specific needs, you can ensure that your RFP attracts qualified vendors, meets your project requirements, and sets the stage for a successful partnership. Remember, the more precise and transparent you are in your RFP, the better the responses you will receive, leading to a well-informed and confident decision-making process.