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In this five part series, Armand Brevig, Managing Director of Procurement Cube, offers his thoughts on how procurement professionals can maximize their impact when sourcing global translation services.

As procurement professionals, we are always keen to ensure that the sourcing projects we pour our hearts and souls into end up making a real difference. So, when you source language translation solutions, how can you ensure your internal stakeholders will end up thanking you, rather than cursing you after all your hard work has been completed?

To build a strong foundation for success, there are two fundamental things you need to do early in the life of the sourcing project.

One thing is to know about the latest solutions and innovations in the supply market. You can find out by engage the supply market informally through conversations with a few of the top suppliers. The advantage of that approach, rather than a formal Request For Information (RFI), is that your discovery will be able to evolve more organically as these conversations progress. The challenge, of course, is to make sure you don’t allow these conversations to bias the upcoming Request For Proposal (RFP) process.

Knowing about the latest developments in the supply market will enable you to put some realism into the RFP, i.e. you will be in a better position to shape your RFP in a way that makes sense to suppliers. That will result in higher quality RFP responses. But before you get to that stage, you must use your initial supply market research to have more informed discussions with internal stakeholders.

That brings me to the second thing you need to do – understand the underlying needs, pain points and preferences of your key stakeholders. In large organisations where Procurement has not yet addressed translation spend, this spend is almost certainly very fragmented. So, when Procurement takes the lead to consolidate the spend, it is very easy to assume this spend is transactional, and that the key factor to focus on is the “per word rate”.

However, as someone who has initiated a global translation sourcing project in a FTSE100 company, I can assure you that the per word rate is just one of many factors stakeholders care about. And seen in isolation, this rate is fairly meaningless. That’s because translation activities form part of wider “content journeys”, which may differ from stakeholder to stakeholder.

It’s these content journeys you need to speak to stakeholders about to understand where value can be added and costs taken out. Once you know that, you will be able to ask more intelligent questions on the RFP, and consequently get responses better suited for intelligent supplier selection.

Visit How to Buy Translation Services for more information, and read Part 2 in the series where we look at how procurement can add value throughout the content journey. And if you'd like to learn more about this topic, why not watch RWS's Jane Freeman interview Armand, where they discuss best practices to help you avoid costly mistakes.