“We prefer to work with freelancers.” – that’s what Vendor Managers, Procurement Managers, Project Managers or Production Managers usually answer to Single Language Vendor representatives offering them language services. The pros and cons of working with freelancers are well known to LSP executives and employees. SLVs (Single Language Vendors) are often perceived as a type of freelancers, just bigger and more costly, with no additional value. Is this a correct view on SLVs? Using freelancers for projects has become a habit in the localization industry and is a true driving force behind this business. But is it really an efficient approach? Are the risks behind sourcing and managing multiple freelancers during complex projects really worth it? Can you afford ignoring the benefits of collaboration with a Single Language Vendor?
You may say: “I don’t know any of those benefits, unless you consider the higher price a benefit”. But in fact, the benefits of working with an SLV are the same that you offer to your own clients. They are the reasons why your clients don’t go to freelancers directly with their tasks but go to you instead. This is the same added value that you offer your customers when closing a deal: greater CONTROL over the process and quality as well as supplier CONSOLIDATION that results in COST savings.
Reason 1: Control
Someone has to control the freelancer. That’s where CONTROL comes in. This is very hard to achieve at Multi Language Vendor companies. There are numerous examples of top freelancers who were absolute leaders in their languages when they worked for local translation companies where they were controlled, where they received scores and regular feedback. Once they started working for LSPs outside their countries, their quality slowly deteriorated since they received no feedback. Why? Because there was no CONTROL over them. There was also no process.
All companies work with the same pool of freelancers, that’s the truth about the language industry. Apart from proper sourcing (that usually means that 1 to 5 translators out of 100 qualify for collaboration; let’s be honest, anything different than that sooner or later leads to disaster) the key is CONTROL and a well-defined process of checking the translator’s work, assigning scores and, if need be, applying penalties for poor quality. Even if they wanted to, freelancers cannot check their own work objectively. Having a good SLV on your side means not only access to carefully chosen linguistic resources in numbers that guarantee the proper completion of even the largest or the most complex projects, but also full CONTROL over the output. Just like your LSP-MLV company.
Reasons 2 and 3: Consolidation and Cost
CONSOLIDATION and COST – these 2 go very closely together. You consolidate for cost savings while maintaining the quality and value.
First of all, by hiring a Single Language Vendor, you instantly consolidate resources. You work with 1 point of responsibility (usually a dedicated Project Manager on the SLV side) and have access to dozens or even hundreds of carefully selected and controlled language professionals. Time is another factor that is closely connected with CONSOLIDATION. After all, time is money. But more on that later.
Let’s get back to CONSOLIDATION and how it can affect your cost. There’s no doubt that CONSOLIDATION SAVES MONEY. On several conditions, though:
1. You need to reduce the headcount. Your freelancers are supported by an army of people on your side: VMs, PMs, accounts payable and other staff. When you reduce the number of suppliers, your headcount falls, too. Lower headcount=lower employee cost. Simple.
2. You need to leverage the consolidated spend, which means you have to negotiate lower prices. That’s where we can talk about the perceived and real COST of hiring an SLV vs. hiring a freelancer. Going back to leveraging the spend, what’s the whole buzz about CONSOLIDATION? It’s easy: you will receive lower prices from one supplier that receives higher volumes (same volume sent to many providers turns into higher volume for that one provider).
3. You need to reduce the number of tasks (this is connected to reducing headcount). More suppliers mean more tasks either carried out by your employees or outsourced. The example of lowering the external cost is pending US legislation that requires businesses to file a 1099 form for every provider with whom they spend $600 or more per year. Most of the businesses will outsource this task. As this task has to be completed for each supplier, using one SLV supplier results in an outsourcing cost that is multiple times lower than in the case of multiple providers.
Everyone is accustomed to many professional habits and we don’t want to change something that works, there’s no doubt about it. The question is whether there’s anything that works better. In an ever-changing world we are challenged to seek new and more efficient solutions each day to meet our objectives. With the current business environment and global economic climate, it seems reasonable to change the story from “We prefer to work with freelancers.” to “We welcome SLVs.”, especially with the PEMT boom and enormous volumes to be processed just around the corner.