Translation for RFPs: how a language partner can help you win

Submitting a foreign language competitive bid?   Professional translation for RFPs can help you win the contract.

It’s not unusual for our clients to have already used Google Translate to get a cursory read of a foreign language Request for Proposal. It’s helpful at first to decide if you will want to bid without engaging serious money. But automated translation is not what you should use to analyze the details of an RFP and put together your response bid.

If this is your first time translating a proposal into a foreign language, consider these best practices:

Create a glossary or termbase using the customer’s RFP documents

Build a glossary or termbase of key terms taken from the customer’s RFP documents and their translations early in the process. This step will ensure that your proposal, when translated back into the customer’s language, will use the same customer terms as those appearing on the RFP. It also saves time when the deadline is short (which is most of the time!) and several linguists work on your documents. A verified termbase can be loaded into the translator’s computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools. Translations of key terms are autosuggested as the translators work, ensuring consistency and accuracy.

Work in sections

Time is of the essence when you respond to an RFP. You may need multiples internal teams to work on specific sections of the documents: pricing, technical requirements, legal requirements, project requirements, and so on. Translating a 200-page RFP in its entirety may take more time 5 or 10 days. You usually can’t afford this wait. Prioritize your work and have sections translated in order of priority. This way, if you need to work on the technical requirements first, translating only the relevant sections can be done much faster so that your team can start analyzing it much faster. Gaining 2 to 8 days in an RFP response will enable you to provide a better, deeper response. Do the same with all sections. You will need the translation (into your language) of the project requirements section ready as soon as the responses to the technical requirements are ready. And while you analyze this section, someone else in your team may be writing the response to the technical requirements, which can then be translated into the customer’s language without waiting for the other sections to be finalized. All of these sections need to be ready a few days before the closing date so that you can do a final review.

Hire a partner that knows your industry

You will want your bid proposal to reflect who you are and to demonstrate to the customer that you have what it takes to satisfy their needs. As good as your team may be in writing clear, persuasive responses in your own language, if you hire a partner that does not understand your business and that does not work with professional translators, you will likely end up with a proposal that, in its final form in the customer’s language, will fall flat when  it comes to positioning your organization and demonstrating your technical expertise. Using the right language is also a source of competitive advantage and will help you win bids.

If you are submitting a foreign-language bid and you have questions about translation for RFPs, we are happy to answer them.