Request for Tenders: Overcoming Language Barriers

Why are Requests for Tenders important to companies?

Advances in technology, travel, and communications allow for a more connected world. Geographical boundaries are no longer an obstacle and companies that used to only operate locally can now offer their services and products almost anywhere.

Governments make good use of this global economic setup by launching international Requests for Tenders. They invite the private sector to bid on the tender to supply their goods or services, in order to fulfill a specific need, from a variety of sectors: from simple products such as office supplies to complex construction projects.

If a company wants to scale its business, winning a government tender can serve as a starting point for many things; to prove its experience and success, to separate itself from the competition and to create a bond with the agency requesting the tender by becoming a known supplier.

However, as with anything that crosses borders, bidding on an international tender comes with certain obstacles such as language barriers. It won’t matter if you are the best supplier in your sector, if the proposal does not appeal language-wise to its target audience, your work will not be taken seriously.

Localizing is key to win a tender

If you are trying to work all over the world, you will have to look for help from all over the world as well. When it comes to tenders, language credibility matters just as much as your technical proposition. How well the tender proposal appeals to the sensitivities of a native speaker will be one of the elements that make or break the deal. To do so, you will most likely need to partner with an experienced language service provider.

Understanding the tender’s requirements

Requests for Tenders are usually written and launched in the language that’s spoken in the country of origin. Only in some cases, such as countries in the European Union, the information is made available in all languages of the union.

Developing a sensitive proposal requires a deep understanding of the tender’s guidelines, rules, and regulations. To achieve thorough comprehension, you will first have to translate the document into English, so everyone in your company can read through it comfortably.

Developing a proposal requires a team effort

This is the most difficult part of the process. You will need to rely on the experience from in-house experts in different teams to craft legal, business and technical documents (tender proposal, presentations, business management manuals, environmental policies, contracts, maps, drawings, among many others).

Defining terminology from an early stage is critical to ensure consistency along the project and use terms that most resonate with the target audience locally.

Not everyone in your company will speak the language in which the proposal needs to be presented, so it is likely you may develop the first version in English. Once it is ready, your language service provider should take care of the translation.

Making your proposal bulletproof

Any mistake in the tender proposal can mean a complete rejection altogether. Winning the project can mean a huge growth in business for your company, so you should be ready to invest in the writing and translating of the documents.

The language service provider you chose to partner with should demonstrate a proven track record for handling file formats such as PDF’s, images and drawings, localization expertise in your vertical market, access to local resources, native speakers, and technical writers. They should also be able to handle large volumes of work in a short time, which will be key to meeting the deadlines required by the tender.

Making updates to your proposal

It sometimes happens that governments change details in the tender or update the document altogether. This will surely affect the proposal you have to submit. When the times comes, make sure your language service provider has the technology required to quickly track changes in documents, so you can spot them quickly and adapt your proposal in time without having to spent hours comparing the original and the updated version.

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