Language Service Provider (LSP)

A language service provider (LSP) is an entity that offers services related to languages. An LSP can be an agency, a company, or an individual that has one or a variety of language services on offer.

What does a language service provider offer?

Not every language service provider delivers the same language services. Most LSPs are specialized in a certain range of tasks, usually accompanied by services related to the quality assurance of the same.

Here is an overview of the most important language services:

  • Translation,
  • Localization,
  • Transcreation,
  • Proofreading,
  • Revision,
  • Evaluation,
  • Translated segment evaluation,
  • Training in using CAT tools,
  • Interpreting,
  • Language training,
  • Copywriting,
  • Copy editing,
  • Transcription.

When you consider all of these elements – and many full-service LSPs offer all of them – the LSP business is really a sophisticated project management business. When a project is in multiple languages, contains specialized content, such as software code or technical documentation, or requires complex formatting, a full-service LSP may be your best option. It is not unusual for an LSP to manage things like foreign language audio recording or training course formatting. This, in turn, requires access to a stable of vendors who may include native-speaking translators with subject matter expertise.

LSPs are key resources for the global marketplace. The scope of the services provided and the size of the businesses vary widely. They can be small firms specializing in a particular language or subject matter or multinational companies serving other multinational large corporations. It is important to find a good match for your particular volume, specialty, and target languages. Smaller LSPs may offer highly personalized service, while larger LSPs can handle large volumes of content in multiple languages.

In a wider definition, tech and software companies that offer products or services closely related to the language service industry are integral to the LSP ecosystems. This stems from the reality in which new translation management systems, computer-assisted and machine translation solutions, as well as AI and CAT tools, are morphing more and more into turn-key solutions.

These platforms or solutions provide features that bring translators, product managers, localization managers, and revisors together and facilitate the provision of language services.

How to best choose a language service provider?

An LSP is a vital business partner for any company in need of language services. The decision on working with an LSP is fueled by many considerations. These are focused on the specific service, the target language(s), volume, and time frames. There is a difference between the successful completion of a language service project with a million words and completion within 3 weeks, and the continuous contracting of language services for recurring volumes that need to be handled.

In any case, quality indicators for choosing the LSP that suits projects, volumes, and target languages best are:

  • Former client feedback,
  • Tech and software applied,
  • Recruitment processes,
  • Any required specialized services,
  • Project portfolio.

When working with a set of different markets and languages, the choice is between working with an LSP that offers services for those languages or setting up a team of independent contractors for that purpose. In any case, researching, interviewing, and choosing LSPs is an endeavor that is closely related to the successful outcome of your operations.

What are the advantages of working with an LSP?

Depending on the language services provided, the LSP will take care of projects professionally and to the highest quality standards. This means the LSP is proactive in providing all necessary information and data. It also means that internal procedures prone to hold up or impact the timeframe and successful completion of a project are transparent.

The LSP in question will openly discuss problems encountered with similar projects in the past and suggest a range of actionable steps to prevent or solve potential issues. The provision of language services in times when new technologies arise constantly is a challenge for the industry.

A partner for language-driven requirements can turn into a longtime ally. Ensuring that this ally is up to date on new developments, invests in education and skill development for staff is key. The ideal LSP always puts practices into place that cater for more efficiency and better time management without any compromise on the quality of the results.