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If your organization’s procurement team is writing a language services RFP (Request for Proposal), you want to create an RFP document and process that produces clear, concise responses from language service providers (LSPs).

Our RFP Manager, Nicole Coen, and her team have read, reviewed, and responded to hundreds of RFPs for interpretation and translation services. We interviewed her to hear her recommendations to make it easier for you and other evaluators to read and compare providers.

Hi Nicole! Thanks for sharing your RFP knowledge with us. Let’s start with a few tips for people with limited experience issuing an RFP for language services.

Thanks, I’m happy to help! One of the first things I’d recommend is researching language services terminology. Many RFPs refer to interpretation and translation as synonyms when they’re very different services, which can make it challenging to determine which services the RFP issuer needs.

We also see many requests for remote interpretation without specifications for phone, video, or teleconference options. The language services industry has changed significantly in the past few years, so it’s important to know about new services and vocabulary.

Finally, think about whether your pricing template matches language services industry norms. Most LSPs use per-minute pricing for interpretation and per-word pricing for translation. Make sure to include questions about fees, equipment purchase/rental pricing, and added value so you can better compare providers.

Recommendation: Clearly define which services you’re looking for, such as document translation, video interpretation for ASL users, or teleconferencing to communicate with healthcare patients.

How can organizations issuing an RFP make the process easier for responders?

The timeline for the RFP process can significantly impact the quality of responses you receive. Having more time to craft our RFP response allows us to customize answers to your company’s needs and values.

If you allow LSPs to ask questions at least a week before the deadline, they can recalibrate answers with customized solutions and recommended services. Rushed changes leave more room for errors and lower-quality content.

Recommendation: Think about the RFP timeline from the responders’ point of view—did you allow enough time for them to deliver everything you asked for?

What information do you wish RFPs included every time?

It’s always helpful to know:

  • A business’ average interpretation usage (minutes per month)
  • Which LSP they currently use
  • Any challenges they’re trying to overcome by choosing a new vendor

For translation services RFPs, it’s super convenient when the client provides samples or detailed information about the project, especially for eLearning or video projects. Understanding exactly what you need helps us deliver accurate solutions and pricing.

Recommendation: Be specific about your needs wherever possible and set clear expectations. Tell responders what you care about most, and they’ll tailor their responses to meet that need.

Are there resources organizations can use to write an RFP for language services?

Yes! We provide RFP guides to help craft questions and know what to look for in an LSP:

We’re currently creating new content for procurement teams, and offer many resources for healthcare and business organizations on our website. CyraCom’s blog has a ton of information about all aspects of language services. For anyone new to language services, I’d also recommend subscribing to our Language Access 101 course.

If you have more questions about writing an RFP for interpretation or translation services, we want to hear from you!

Contact our team at for a free language services consultation.

Lindsay Lawson

Lindsay Lawson

An experienced researcher, writer, and editor on language services-related topics, specializing in interpreting and translation services, how language works.