RFP translation secrets: 3 strategies to communicating effectively in a different language

April 10, 2012

English is the fourth most spoken language in the world after Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish. In the meantime China and other Asian countries are projected to dominate more and more of the global market in the years to come.

Companies that understand and adapt to these global trends will be able to grow successfully by connecting with the client. Creating a winning international proposal can be challenging due to additional cultural and linguistic factors that must be accounted for. Follow these strategies to an effective Request For Proposal in any language, known in the biz as an RFP translation.

1. Embrace diversity
RFP translations are standard practice in many industries and involve much more than just language; there are many practical differences that must be taken into account. Legal and regulatory frameworks, contract law, intellectual property rights, anti-piracy regulation and contractual requirements vary from country to country. Other factors such as cultural, religious, and political differences can pose huge barriers to an effective RFP translation. When dealing with high-profile contracts that are procured and executed with public funds, a high standard of ethics is demanded so knowing the differences you may face will help avoid missteps throughout the process.

2. Plan to localize (i.e. adapt), not to just translate
Localization, which involves the full adaptation of your content, graphics and design, is a critical step in the RFP translation process and its importance is often overlooked.  Many opportunities present themselves during RFP translation and localization such as the creation of an international brand. Plan for localization as part of your business strategy in order to reap the benefits along the way. Seek support from key decision makers and involve in-country players from the start so that you can be as informed as possible about the local market and budget your time, money and resources accordingly. Make sure your document is designed to handle translation; you will need to localize your image library as well as typography. Plan for expansion, a document may expand up to 1/3 upon translation so design tables and graphs for bi-directional language and keep text separate from graphics.

3. Ask About Cultural and Language Expectations
There are many pertinent questions you will need to find answers to in order to effectively localize a Request for Proposal. For starters, you need to understand the purposes behind the RFP as well as the global process that includes the RFP as one of its stages so that they are reflected in the translation. RFP translation and localization is not always easy, the abundance of English terminology, lack of exact equivalents between the source and target languages and adjusting for register, regionalism and style are some of the main challenges you may face at this stage. In order to be as careful and accurate as possible, ask the client to provide you with any pertinent reference material or glossaries they may have at their disposal. Request on-going feedback from your in-country resources; optimal communication with clients is a key factor in an effective RFP translation.

If you would like additional information on this topic or have questions on planning and executing your next translation or multilingual initiative, contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation or call us at (800) 413-7838.

Photo by Dan Eriksson

One Comment on “RFP translation secrets: 3 strategies to communicating effectively in a different language”

  1. Ahmed Al-Bodairy says:

    Very helpful, thanks.