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Our Analysts' Insights

31May

Standard Translation Project Timelines Keep Shrinking

In our recent research on quoting practices at LSPs, we found two recurring themes: 1) the increasing price pressure caused by clients driving the race to the bottom (see our recent blog post on that topic); and 2) the drastic reduction in timelines to conduct projects. In this post, we’ll explore this second issue.

We asked our LSP interviewees about standard timelines for 2,000 words to be translated into their most common language. We specified that it should be what they quote without incurring rush fees or adding extra services such as desktop publishing.

Most interviewees quoted one to two business days, depending on the time of submission for the approved quote. They often deliver early-morning approvals the same day. On the other hand, we found some laggards that offer turnaround times as long as five days for such basic projects.



This data makes it is easy to figure out why providers may not make the cut on a simple bid, even if their pricing is comparable. LSPs may hide behind their process as the justification for the length of time to complete jobs. However, the problem isn’t as much process as the amount of time the project sits around waiting for the next person in the workflow to pick up his or her task. 

To accelerate the process, LSPs use different techniques ranging from round-the-clock production models to lights-out project management techniques that remove the need for human touch and a systematic removal of downtime in the process. But such abilities come only as organizations mature.

In our primary research on LSP maturity progression, we outline how approaches to turnaround time change as language companies advance through the six stages of CSA Research’s LSP MetrixTM model (see “LSP Metrix” and “Evaluating the Operational Maturity of Suppliers.

Providers start their timeline quoting with gut estimates based on loose datapoints. As they gain experience, they develop benchmarks that they refine over time. At first, they react to timeline compression requests by pushing teams to work harder or by removing steps. Eventually, they build project management skills, leverage technology, and adopt follow-the-sun production models to shave off time. The most mature providers develop compressed or real-time solutions capable of impressive timeframes. They achieve this by implementing expert systems and artificial intelligence to remove downtime in their processes.

Want to learn more about our findings? We published a six-part research series for our Industry Providers service including “The Art of Quoting Turnaround Times.” Our buy-side clients can find more information in “How LSPs Quote Projects” which we just published today.

About the Author

Hélène Pielmeier

Hélène Pielmeier

Director of LSP Service

Focuses on LSP business management, strategic planning, sales and marketing strategy and execution, project and vendor management, quality process development, and interpreting technologies

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