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Help!!!!! I received a super-hyper-complex-long Localization services quote!!!!

Help!!!!! I received a super-hyper-complex-long Localization services quote!!!!

Localization industry has many “obscure” areas, areas that for everyone not really into this wonderful world might be tricky to understand.

A few months ago, while working in a procurement process to choose a new language service provider I fell in one of those tricky areas. I was pushed to the world of understanding a super detailed quote!! … during my life I received different RFPs including a wide type of different quotes, but that one was particularly interesting as it included a combination of all the aspects we might get in a quote … at the beginning I was overwhelmed for the great amount of info and services I received there .. but after a couple of hours of analysis I started to feel that level of details actually it was really useful.

I want to take this opportunity in my weekly post to explain the different concepts we might receive in a localization quote … do you want to understand a localization quote? Keep reading, you are just 10 minutes away to understand how this works.

The reason why I felt that quote was special is because of the mix of services included. It had the following categories

Since there’s no a standard Localization quote, this means a quote might have different angles. I will cover in the next paragraphs what’s the meaning of all bullets points that I faced in THE quote … by the way, if you are wondering which vendor is … sorry I cannot reveal that, but maybe you can guess the nationality …this vendor is in a beautiful country where they have great sushi among other great ancient traditions :)

Quoting per words

Price per words tends to be quite accurate and reliable ... especially, if our volume is high getting a table with the cost per words is a good idea. In the gaming industry (in the casual genre even more) price per word is not the only factor we need to evaluate, volumes in games are not as big as it might be the translation of help files in Microsoft Excel … but we would still need some numbers to get a rough idea about how much we are going to pay our provider.  

Courtesy of CSA

Courtesy of CSA


Usually we will get English as source language, and the rest of languages as target languages.

In that particular quote, however, since the vendor was Japanese, there was a combination from English to EU languages and from Asian languages to a wide ranges of EU languages (and between Asian languages themselves)

All these rates were different … and the reasons somehow it makes sense when you think about it …. Local services in developing countries tend to be cheaper than in expensive countries. A combination English to Norwegian won’t be the cheapest combination possible, but definitely the combination to localized from Norwegian into Japanese will be much more expensive.

Some vendors include in their quotes the price of 1 hour of translation, although the production and the output in terms of number of words changes a lot depending on the translator working in our project.

In the category “Price per word with edited” I received the quote including what it’s known in our industry as the “4 eyes review” which basically means that there’s a translator localizing our text and then there’s another editor/reviewer proofreading and validating that the translated content is ready to go ….

Also, related to prices per word it’s not unusual to receive in the quotes different prices based on the TM analysis, 100% match, fuzzy match etc etc …

in this category, my advice would be to spend time analysing the content we produce and predicting how unique this content is. The reason for this is quite simple, but at the same time it will bring good savings for our localization budget.

At the beginning, most of our content will be “no match” but eventually as we keep working with our language partner there will be more and more matches, and more and more recycled content… in this scenario we will get savings as we create content while our partner does a proper TM analysis.

Price per page

Quoting per page is not very common lately, the reason for this is that word count is quite different depending on the language. And many languages expand word count depending on the language for example Dutch copy is estimated to be about 15% more words compared to English copy. (Romance languages is even more, they use approximately 30% more words than English to express the same idea.) Another factor to consider when quoting per page is the subject matter. Medical and legal texts tend to get longer when translated. Those topics are risky :) and the translator has less freedom to “transcreate” the content. In this context texts usually gets longer to avoid problems :)

Price per character

This category is quite mysterious for many localization buyers. It’s not very common, but definitely, if you vendor is in the Asian market is not weird to have a quote including the cost of translation per characters. In this scenario the tricky part we face the non-Asian brains is to come up with a calculation ratio for our content. I mean, how many characters in English is the Korean or Japanese or Chinese? Understanding this equation will be crucial to determine if the quote we received is a good fit for us or not.

To give some tips here we could use as rule of thumb the following ratio (it’s not an exact ratio but it might help to get an idea)

Ratio in English with Chinese is 0.6. This means 1000 Chinese characters might be around 600-700 words in English (or 1000 English words roughly will be translated into 1600-1700 Chinese characters)

Source: 1 Stop Asia



PM fees, rush fee, minimum fee, penalty fee .. OMG!! why so many fees??? Well, there’s a simple answer for this. These fees actually are necessary as they represent different phases that we are going to experience sooner or later in our project.

PM fee is just the amount that the vendor will charge us to have a contact assign to our project. This peer to peer communication is quite comfortable from a client perspective as it does not matter whether we are localizing our software in 10 languages or 20. We would just talk to one person at the vendor side. Obviously, this comfort needs to be paid, so that’s what the PM fee is covering. This is the fee to avoid end up being crazy by talking directly to 20 different translators.

Penalty and rush fees are fees to avoid that vendor PM ends up burnout her/himself. We know sometimes, some content we need to translate for different reasons is not ready, however our vendor PM already took the time to secure some translators for our project. In the cases where those translators cannot be re-allocated is where the penalty fees become handy. Penalty fee is a gratitude gesture to minimize the impact of the delay in our handoff. Rush fee covers the other totally opposite scenario, suddenly we need to get translated some piece of content immediately, in those cases the “rush fees” help vendors to get some money to compensate the adrenaline boost coming from this unexpected service request.

And what about a minimum fee? What’s exactly that? Minimum fees are for those services that are too small to be categorized in the price per word or the hourly rate. An example of this might be a hot fix that it required to inform our customers of a failure in a system, or just to make any announcement in general. If we have some content that we need to get translated into 22 languages, even if it’s only 10 words in total, the vendor must make an effort to prepare the localization of those 10 words, and contact 22 different translators, some of them might be in-house, but others will be scattered all over the world. This file preparation and communication effort cannot be free, and this is what it’s covered by the minimum fee.

Discount fee aka as volume fee is a special agreement that we can find in a relationship client – vendor in which the vendor offers some discounts when the client guarantee a number of words/hours on a project or based on yearly basis. This is my favourite model of collaboration, however at the same time it’s the more challenging to get in this Agile world we live. Getting an estimation of the #words might be tricky with continuous projects added or cancelled … however, when this is possible is a win-win situation for both sides. The buyer is getting a good price to get their content localized and the language service provider is able to book translators “long-term”


The last category that I found in this epic endless quote I received was related to potential content that it might be transcreated. This is the more complex content to translate, so it makes absolute sense to have a special category for this special content. If you want to know more about the transcreation you can check this post where I covered why transcreation is the most complex services in localization/globalization industry.

To summarize, there are 4 main categories to understand THE quote we might receive from our potential new partner

·      Number of words/characters and the use of the TMs

·      Content ready to be published (edited/proofread and or LQA’d)

·      Fees for PM services

·      Fees for transcreation/marketing/content creation services

That quote I received I must admit it was a headache at the beginning when I received it, so many categories, so many different scenarios… just calculating if it was the right quote and RFP to choose was hard. However, after proper analysis, I’m glad that we received a quote with so many details, because that level of details helped us to craft our budget and being accurate in our forecast. I’m happy to say that we finally chose the vendor that submitted us this hyper-complex-detailed quote…. and so far so good! We’ve been working for a few months with them and there have been no surprises in terms of invoices received. It’s true there’s many many info in their invoices, but it’s also true that this level of details is really helping to have a very accurate budgeting system with them.

All in all, picking the right quote is difficult and there might be many scenarios we are not considering when we choose one quote instead of another… hopefully this post where I explained the different categories we might receive in a quote can help you to find a vendor that suit your needs :) Good luck!!

Have an awesome day!


Don’t blame the Translator .. blame it on the boogie!

Don’t blame the Translator .. blame it on the boogie!

Breaking Localization News! Do NOT use a Translation Memory

Breaking Localization News! Do NOT use a Translation Memory