RFP Translation Services

When discussing RFP translation services, it is important to first establish what an RFP is. The acronym RFP means Request for Proposal.

According to Investopedia, “a Request for Proposal (RFP) is a business document that announces and provides details about a project, as well as solicits bids from contractors who will help complete the project.”

RFPs are generally used to find contractors for complex projects or special programs. In fact, the website Vendorful states that the RFP “is widely considered the cornerstone for a big-ticket purchase by companies, governments and other organizations.”

Here are some of the elements that may be included in a typical RFP:

  • Nature of the project
  • Evaluation criteria regarding how proposals will be rated
  • Description of the work to be performed
  • Expected timeline for performing the work
  • Information about the organization issuing the RFP and its line of business

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Request for Proposal - RFP Translation Services

The RFP process does not necessarily need to be limited to United States businesses or government bodies. In the current global commerce environment, leadership in U.S. or other companies may be intrigued by an RFP issued by a foreign country for several reasons such as seizing the opportunity to take their products or services to the global market.

If your U.S.-based business plans to respond to an RFP issued by a business in a country where the official language is not English, you may need to have that RFP translated into English, if it hasn’t been translated already. Clearly, when the proposal has been completed, it must be translated back into the language of the country where the RFP originated.

Conversely, an English-speaking company may issue an RFP internationally. This situation may result in the need for translation RFPs for several languages, depending upon how many countries that company targets.

RFP Translation Process


Let’s say that you own a company in the U.S. that is working on producing a new computer. Your business is growing quickly because other computers you have produced have proven to be very popular in the U.S. You have purchased computer chips from Japanese companies in the past because these companies are known to be essential in four of the steps for manufacturing computer chips. You may have had good experiences with Japanese electronic manufacturers in the past, but you like to shop around when starting the creation of a new product.

So, if you are considering the issuance of an RFP, you may want to consider the advantages this process provides you. For instance, it allows you to evaluate the functionality, features and prices offered by a pool of prospective vendors. So you are going to issue an international RFP targeting Japan, and you will need an RFP translation from English to Japanese to make sure that all specifications are clear.

Although many Japanese businesspeople may speak at least functional English, you want to make sure that the project requirements you specify are clear to avoid any problems down the road.

Here is a reliable set of guidelines to help you kick off this mechanism, keeping in mind that you will most likely run into needs for RFP translation throughout the process.

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  • Find out who the key people are who will be most affected by the purchase.
  • Organize a team meeting to discuss general and specific business goals as well as set up a project budget (including RFP translation costs). In preparation, draw up a list of topics to discuss in this meeting.
  • Identifying necessary tools for starting the process
  • Deciding on the evaluation categories (i.e. product functionality, project timeline, security, etc.)
  • Scoring criteria for the prospective vendor pool
  • Decide on any “deal breaker” responses from vendors
  • Transcribe the results of the meeting and provide the opportunity for the team to review and edit it collaboratively.

Write and Issue the RFP

  • Assemble a list of specific, targeted questions the team expects respondents to answer (making sure to include some open-ended questions).
  • Emphasize to vendors that their answers will be measured against those of other vendors
  • Set clear time frames for vendors and your team members to observe.
  • There is no hard and fast rule regarding the length of an RFP. The best rule of thumb is to ensure that you clearly communicate your company’s specific needs to avoid any misunderstandings.
  • Be prepared to answer questions that may come from vendors regarding any aspect of the RFP. This may require some RFP translation services from Japanese into English and from English back into Japanese.

Score responses and narrow the vendor field

  • Ask everyone in your company involved in the project to evaluate and score vendor proposals.
  • Disqualify any prospective vendors failing to meet the “deal-breaker” criteria.
  • Note strengths and qualities that make the remaining prospective vendors stand out.
  • Create a short list for vendors earning the highest scores

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Select your winner

  • After you have developed your short list of high-scoring vendors, don’t forget the important step of checking vendor company reviews and reference contacts.
  • Don’t be shy about asking for more meetings or demonstrations from vendors in which you are interested before reaching a final decision.
  • Negotiate in terms of costs with vendors on your short list before selecting one with which to sign a contract. Note that when you are in the negotiation process with a company with leaders who do not speak fluent English you may need interpreters who verbally translate languages. You may also require translation of financial documents in this process.
  • Contact the companies that you did not choose that they were not selected.

Challenges with RFP translation

When issuing an international RFP, it is very important that you are aware of some challenges involved with translations from one language to another. For instance, in our fictional scenario, an English-speaking company issuing an RFP should understand that there are major differences in translating written English and Japanese.

Of course, translation between Japanese and English is not the only translation that presents challenges. However, The Word Point understands the challenges involved in many international RFP translations and can provide your company with a flawless RFP translation involving a long list of languages.



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