What is RFP Translation? Key Components and a Translation RFP Example

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Written by

Adedamola Ojedokun

Searching for a translation agency on the web?

In this ad-and SEO-trickery saturated market?

Call it time-consuming, call it inefficient, or even archaic; call it whatever you want, one thing is clear: it’s not worth your while.

Why don’t you turn it upside down and let them find you?

Let’s learn what is RFP translation and how to write one to make translation agencies compete for your attention.

Keep reading to learn:

Pro tip: Streamline translation implementation, quality assurance, and collaboration with a translation agency using a professional localization management suite – Centus. Learn more.

What Is Translation RFP?

what is translation rfp

A translation RFP is a formal document that is used by companies or organizations to invite proposals from translation service providers. The document outlines the specific requirements of the company regarding translation, encompassing the target languages, document types, and project deadlines.

Translation RFPs provide an organized and transparent approach to hiring the right translation solution providers.

Key Components of a Translation RFP

components of translation rfp

Several components should be included in a translation RFP to provide necessary information to potential vendors. These components enhance the procurement process by allowing for the effective evaluation and selection of translation service providers.

The essential elements of a translation RFP include:

  • Background information: A concise overview of the company's history, products or services, and any pertinent industry details.

  • Scope of work: A detailed description of the content requiring translation, specifying the target audience, languages, and the desired level of quality.

  • Deadlines and budget: Clear deadlines for the completion of the translation project and the maximum budget allocated by the company.

  • Qualifications: The necessary criteria that the translation agency must meet, including relevant experience, certifications, and specialized expertise.

  • Evaluation criteria: The factors that the company will utilize to assess the proposals, such as pricing, quality, and turnaround time.

  • Customer references: Contact information for previous clients of the translation agency to verify their track record and quality of service.

  • Case studies: Examples of the translation agency's previous work to evaluate their capabilities and suitability for the project.

  • Technical requirements: Information regarding the file formats the translation agency can handle and the translation management system the company uses.

By incorporating these elements into a translation RFP, businesses can provide RFP translation services with the necessary details to submit competitive proposals. This approach ensures that the company can select the most suitable translation agency to meet its specific needs.

Benefits of Using a Translation RFP

benefits of using a translation rfp

The use of translation RFPs is associated with the following benefits:

Ensures a comprehensive and structured approach

Translation RFPs provide a formal structure for expressing the expectations and criteria of a translation project. Organizations can clearly outline their project goals, timelines, and deliverables by using an RFP.

This comprehensive approach helps to minimize misunderstandings and ensure that potential vendors receive all required information.

Encourages competitive bidding and cost-effective solutions

Translation RFPs promote cost-effective solutions and encourage competition among language service providers (LSPs). When different vendors receive an RFP, they are encouraged to submit competitive bids to win the project.

The competition among LSPs results in reduced translation service costs without sacrificing quality. Organizations can use the bidding process to review different options and choose the most cost-effective solution that matches their needs.

Facilitates objective evaluation and selection of vendors

Translation RFPs also help organizations objectively evaluate potential suppliers. Organizations can request specific information from LSPs using a well-structured RFP, such as their experience, qualifications, expertise in specific subject areas, and references.

RFPs enable vendor comparison based on equal parameters, making the decision process more transparent and objective.

Promotes accountability and transparency

The RFP can include provisions for tracking and reporting to ensure that the chosen vendor maintains open lines of communication and provides regular updates. Organizations can hold vendors accountable for meeting such criteria by defining clear expectations and objectives in the RFP.

This transparency and accountability help develop a good working relationship and also reduce potential conflicts during the translation project.

Reduces project risks and improves the quality

A translation RFP helps organizations reduce the risks associated with translation projects and improve the overall quality of the project. It can be used to outline the quality assurance needs (such as translation accuracy, proofreading, editing, and quality control processes) of an organization.

Hence, the language services provider responding to the RFP must provide comprehensive information about their quality management systems and procedures. This guarantees that the chosen vendor has put in place methods to offer accurate translations, thereby minimizing the occurrence of errors, inconsistencies, and revisions.

Learn more about localization quality assurance here.

How to Use a Translation RFP

how to use a translation rfp

Here’s how to use a translation RFP:

Step 1: Conduct a thorough research

Before writing the RFP, it's crucial to gather all the necessary information. This involves:

  • Defining the project scope

  • Identifying the company's current challenges and weaknesses

  • Formulating clear requirements

  • Collecting relevant references and samples to share with potential vendors

  • Assessing the company's readiness for collaboration

Providing detailed information will result in more accurate proposals from vendors.

Step 2: Write the RFP

Organize the gathered information and questions into a well-structured document. Consider the following guidelines:

  • Provide background information about the RFP project

  • Specify project requirements in detail, ranking them by importance

  • Outline the criteria for selecting a vendor

  • State guidelines for vendors to follow when responding

  • Set a timeline for vendors to submit their proposals

Step 3: Invite vendors

Once the RFP is complete, it's time to invite vendors. You can find suitable vendors through the following methods:

  • Seek recommendations from a network of localization service buyers

  • Refer to a vendor directory, which is published annually

  • Conduct a Request for Information (RFI) to gather more details

Step 4: Launch the request for proposal

After inviting vendors, hold a Q&A session to address any questions they may have. Share the results of the Q&A session with all vendors.

Step 5: Gather RFP responses

Vendors will submit their proposals during this phase. While it’s their time to act, there are still important tasks for you:

  • Be responsive to any additional questions from vendors

  • Allow vendors sufficient time to create comprehensive proposals

  • Prepare a review team to evaluate the submitted submissions

  • Organize and keep track of all responses as they are received

Step 6: Evaluate all RFP responses

Carefully review each submitted proposal to determine the best vendor. Maintain impartiality and avoid favoritism. Consider asking for demos and samples from vendors to further assess their capabilities.

Note that even if a vendor comes highly recommended, it might not be the best fit for your specific needs. Evaluate each vendor based on their services and how well they meet your criteria.

Key Factors to Consider When Creating a Translation RFP

You need to consider many crucial factors when preparing a translation RFP to ensure the success of your translation project. These factors will assist you in properly outlining your translation requirements and attracting suitable vendors who can effectively meet your translation needs.

The following are the most important factors when creating a translation RFP:

Language requirements

Target languages

Specify the languages to be translated. Determine which languages you require the content to be translated into. Also, consider any regional dialects or differences that might be important to your project.

Volume of content

Determine the amount of content that has to be translated. This could include metrics such as word count, page count, or any other important data. This information will help vendors determine the resources needed and provide appropriate pricing.

Subject matter expertise

Specialized terminology

Identify any industry-specific or specialized terminology that is required for accurate translation. Make it clear that you need translators with subject-matter experience in your niche to ensure that your message is successfully communicated.

Cultural considerations

Consider the cultural nuances and sensitivities associated with your content. Indicate any cultural requirements or preferences that must be considered during the translation process. This is especially true when translating marketing materials, ads, or any other information that has a cultural context.

Quality assurance measures

Translation accuracy

Specify your translation accuracy expectations. Define any specific standards, style guides, or glossaries that must be followed throughout the translation to ensure consistency and accuracy.

Proofreading and editing

Describe your need for proofreading and editing services. Make it clear whether you want the vendor to include these services as part of their offering or whether a third party should provide them.

Quality assurance certification

Inquire about the vendor's quality assurance certifications and methods, such as the use of expert translators, proofreaders, and editors. It may also be helpful to know if the vendor uses the right translation technology (such as translation memory, machine translation, and lots more).

By taking into account the above-mentioned factors, you can ensure that the translation agency meets your quality expectations.

Example of a Translation RFP

To see how a translation RFP is structured, here’s an example of a translation RFP:

Request for Proposal (RFP) for Translation Services


I. Introduction

[Your Organization's Name], hereinafter referred to as "the Client," is seeking professional language translation services to assist in bridging the language barrier and ensuring effective communication with our international partners and customers. We invite experienced and qualified translation agencies or individuals to submit their proposals for consideration.

II. Scope of Work

The scope of work for this translation project includes:

  • Translation of written documents: The selected vendor shall provide accurate and culturally sensitive translations of different documents, such as legal contracts, marketing materials, technical manuals, and business correspondence.

  • Interpretation services: On occasion, the Client may require on-site or remote interpretation services for meetings, conferences, and other events. The vendor should indicate their capabilities in this area.

  • Language pairs: The primary language pairs required for translation are [Source Language] to [Target Language], and vice versa. Vendors are encouraged to specify any additional language pairs they can support.

III. Proposal Guidelines

Interested vendors are requested to submit a comprehensive proposal that includes the following information:

  • Company Profile: Provide an overview of your translation agency or individual translation practice, including years of experience, areas of expertise, and any relevant certifications.

  • Project Approach: Describe your approach to ensuring culturally appropriate and accurate RFP translation. Explain how you handle quality assurance and review processes.

  • Team Qualifications: Detail the qualifications and experience of the translators and interpreters who will be involved in this project. Highlight any subject matter expertise in our industry or related fields.

  • Client References: Please provide at least three references from previous clients for whom you have completed similar translation projects.

  • Cost Estimate: Include a detailed breakdown of your pricing structure for translation services, including any additional fees for expedited delivery or specialized services.

IV. Proposal Submission

Please submit your proposal via email to [Contact Email Address] no later than [Submission Deadline]. Late submissions may not be considered.

V. Selection Process

The selection process will follow these steps:

  • Evaluation of Proposals: The Client will review all received proposals based on the criteria outlined in Section III.

  • Shortlisting: The Client may conduct interviews or request additional information from shortlisted vendors.

  • Award Decision: The contract will be awarded to the vendor whose proposal best meets the Client's requirements in terms of quality, expertise, and cost-effectiveness.

VI. Terms and Conditions

  • Intellectual Property: All translated materials shall become the property of the Client, and the selected vendor shall not claim any rights to the translated content.

  • Timelines: The timeline for each translation project will be agreed upon between the Client and the selected vendor.

  • Payment Terms: Payment will be made according to the agreed-upon terms in the contract, based on completed deliverables.

VII. Contact Information

For any clarifications or inquiries related to this RFP, please contact:

[Your Name]

[Your Title]

[Your Organization]

[Contact Email Address]

[Contact Phone Number]

We look forward to receiving your proposal and potentially collaborating with a skilled translation partner to further our global endeavors.


[Your Name]

[Your Title]

[Your Organization's Name]

Translation RFP Alternatives

While a translation RFP is a popular strategy for procuring translation services, organizations can also consider other alternatives. These solutions allow flexibility and may be more appropriate depending on the project's needs and conditions.

Here are the top translation RFP alternatives that you can consider:

Request for Information (RFI)

An RFI is a critical step before submitting an RFP. It enables businesses to learn more about potential translation vendors, their capabilities, and relevant expertise. RFIs help limit the number of potential vendors and select those that match the requirements before proceeding with an RFP process.

This helps businesses save time and resources since they will focus on certified vendors.

Proof of Concept (POC)

A POC can be used to manage risk and explore the potential of new technologies or services in a controlled environment before embarking on a full-scale implementation. It enables businesses to test new ideas, analyze their value proposition, and quantify their benefits in a scalable manner.

The POC process includes numerous stages of iterative testing and evaluation. It starts with identifying a specific problem or opportunity that the organization hopes to address by implementing new technology or services.

The organization can focus its efforts on assessing the feasibility and possible impact of the proposed solution by selecting a focused scope for the POC.

Unlike a standard RFP process that may be more rigorous and focused on specific vendor proposals, a POC fosters active engagement from multiple stakeholders, including internal teams, external partners, and end-users.

This collaborative approach enables cross-functional collaboration and a broader view of the proposed solution's possible benefits and obstacles.

Reverse RFP

In the traditional RFP process, organizations specify their requirements and expectations in the RFP document, allowing potential vendors to reply with proposals that meet those specific needs.

If you want to approach the procurement process more collaboratively and innovatively, consider executing a reverse RFP.

A reverse RFP involves inviting a select group of potential partners or vendors to ask a set of questions about your specific business concerns. These essential questions should be designed to help you gain a better understanding of your organization's specific needs, pain points, and goals.

Allowing vendors to ask questions allows them to obtain essential information that will help them tailor their proposals to your needs. The reverse RFP allows bidders to consider your specific requirements creatively and strategically.

Rather than merely replying to a set of requirements, vendors engage in a discussion with you, seeking clarification and insights that can inform their proposed solutions. This strategy encourages a collaborative atmosphere in which vendors may better grasp your organization's context and provide unique solutions to your problems.

Vendors will offer proposals based on their understanding of your company's challenges after gathering the relevant information through their questions. These bids should detail how the vendor expects to handle your specific requirements, solve challenges, and provide value-added solutions.

Video RFP

A video RFP is a formal document or presentation used by a company seeking translation services for video content. It introduces the company and project background, outlining the scope of work, including the number of videos, languages required, and any additional services needed.

Requirements such as experienced translators, subject matter experts, and native speakers are specified. A clear timeline and budget information are provided, along with the evaluation criteria for selecting a service provider.

The innovative approach of a video RFP allows the company to better engage potential providers and facilitates a more interactive understanding of the project's needs and expectations.

To Sum Up

A Translation RFP plays a key role in the procurement process when seeking translation services. It enables businesses to define their translation needs, engage qualified vendors, and assure the effective completion of their translation projects.

Organizations can improve their translation processes and achieve high-quality translations that align with their goals by harnessing the benefits and following the guidelines outlined in this article.


What is the purpose of an RFP?

The purpose of an RFP is to:

  • Define the scope of the project

  • Generate competition

  • Evaluate potential vendors

  • Select the best vendor

What should a translation request include?

A well-written translation request should include:

  • Project overview

  • Target language

  • Deadlines

  • Budget

  • Qualifications

  • Proposal requirements

  • Evaluation criteria

How do you write a translation proposal?

The following are the steps to follow when writing a translation proposal:

  • Introduce yourself and express how interested you are in the client's project

  • Demonstrate your understanding of the client's requirements and goals

  • Describe your translation method, quality control procedures, and specialized tools

  • Emphasize your subject matter expertise as well as any applicable qualifications

  • Provide an estimated completion date for the translation project

  • Clearly state your pricing structure and preferred payment terms

  • Assure the client of your dedication to confidentiality and data security

  • Provide relevant examples from your previous work

  • Include your contact information and express gratitude for considering your proposal

What is the difference between a proposal and an RFP?

The main difference between an RFP and a proposal is that an RFP is a document that the client issues, whereas a proposal is a document that the vendor submits.

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