Facts You Need To Know About Vendor Management In Localization

vendor management

In Localization, there are main functions that collaborate together in parallel/sequence to create the final product. Examples of these functions are: Translation, Project Management, Localization Engineering, Desktop Publishing, Business Development and Vendor Management. We will focus on the Vendor Management function in this article giving you an insight into its meaning.

Imagine a localization company that relies merely on internal staff. The services and language combinations they could offer would be limited to those offered by their employees. In a competitive and rapidly growing industry, no business owner would like to see his/her company missing hundreds of opportunities due to an inability to increase their headcount. This can leave them in front of two options.

The first one is to do a mass hiring for professionals in every possible localization specialty; which cannot be a realistic approach, though, for some reasons such as the following:

(1) Hiring and training costs will be extremely high due to the numerous specialties required and the headcount needed.

(2) There is no accurate estimation of which specialties and services will be requested. Even if the company's business development planners managed to use historical information and analyses for forecasting the next period's needs, there would still be a remarkable deviation when it comes to actual projects. This would mean that the company would have missed hiring in some needed specialties, and some already-hired employees would not be well-utilized, or would even be completely idle.

(3) Even if all, and only, the needed personnel are hired, it is nearly impossible to find in-country providers of all of the languages the company offers, in an industry that already needs resources who speak and work with numerous languages and have multiple and diverse cultural backgrounds.

The second option is to outsource all of the services or language pairs they cannot offer internally to reliable freelancers or companies, and here comes the role of Vendor Management.


In its research, Common Sense Advisory has found that nearly 90 percent of companies outsource some or all of their translation and localization work. Many use a stable of language service providers and freelance translators to meet their needs in product localization, website globalization, in printed collateral, online help systems, knowledge bases, technical user guides, and training materials.

Vendor Management in the Localization industry is the function concerned with sourcing, testing, utilizing, helping and solving the issues of the providers a company deals with. It may also be called 'Resource Management' or 'Talent Management'.

The term "vendor" is a general word used for any kind of person or entity from whom you buy services rather than your in-house employees who work with a fixed salary.

In localization, vendors can be translators, interpreters, trans-creators, content writers, copywriters, voice-over talents, desktop publishing (DTP) specialists, subject matter experts, or any other providers of localization services. These providers can be freelancers, teams or companies with varying sizes.

As a VM, you need to specify the company's needs for sourcing new vendors in coordination with the Operation Management, Business Development or Human Resources teams, depending on your company's structure.

As soon as you have a clear idea about the vendors requirements for your team, you can start your recruitment and boarding process which can be summarized in the following steps

   Posting advertisements, networking and contacting candidates
  - Screening and testing your candidates

Once your candidate has passed the test and you are about to start your cooperation, you can now negotiate and agree on suitable rates or prices balancing between their satisfaction and the company's profitability. You may also need to complete documents such as a Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA) and/or a Service Level Agreement (SLA).
You will need to feed all of the vendors' data and documents into your company's system (TMS) for future reference and for helping Project Managers when they wish to contact and assign these vendors.

This article was intended to give you a general idea about what vendor management means in localization and the most common tasks vendor managers do. There are, indeed, more demand-driven VM activities depending on what is needed for the company's business.

The significance of this localization function seems to be increasing due to the global trend towards freelancing. It is the vendor manager's objective to select good freelancers from this huge rich pool.

Are you a vendor manager or someone who experienced dealing with vendor managers? Feel free to have your say about what vendor management means and what vendor managers do.