Vendor Management From a Vendor’s Perspective

Vendor management was one of the hot topics at this year’s Globalization and Localization Association’s (GALA’s) Annual Conference held in Dublin on March 13, 2023.

And if you missed the talk on “Vendor Management from a Vendor’s Perspective”, particularly in the language and translation industry, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we take you back in time by introducing the two amazing speakers as well as discussing vendor management and everything that it involves. Let’s take a closer look.

Introducing the speakers

The presentation “Vendor Management from a Vendor’s Perspective” was jointly given by Margarita Garcia and Toby Partington, with Gergana Toleva from 1-Stop Asia acting as the panel host.

Margarita García, who is from Global Lingo, has extensive experience in the localization and translation industry across different roles. These have ranged from being a translator, reviewer, and post-editor to vendor manager. Garcia has worked in the vendor management realm for Capita TI, Deluxe Media, and Global Lingo, where she is currently the Resourcing and Quality Assurance Manager. Her passions lie in discovering how technology can drive innovation and help implement solutions to streamline processes for the benefit of what really matters: PEOPLE.

The second speaker at this talk was Toby Partington from Empower Translate, who is a second-generation family business owner. Throughout the years, he has covered various roles in the company including Talent Hub Manager and his current role as Head of Operations. His hands-on experience in the business, alongside his passion for technology and people, gives him an excellent understanding of the pain points and mechanisms one should navigate toward a successful vendor management model. According to Toby, working for a company with an unconventional and innovative localization service often requires inventing one’s own model.

What is vendor management?

Vendor management, briefly explained, is the management of an organization’s suppliers in such a way that their strengths build onto the primary organization’s strengths through the supply of products and/or services as part of the organization’s supply chain.

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These “suppliers” need to be effectively streamlined into the primary organization’s processes so that there is a smooth-flowing operation. As such, a vendor management system is often put in place to manage multiple suppliers.

But beyond this and possibly as a starting point, vendor management often involves the difficult process of vendor selection and vendor assessment to ensure the right partners are chosen for the organization.

Vendor selection, therefore, means choosing a supplier or partner who will produce quality output, has a strong industry reputation, has the capacity to deliver, and offers affordable rates for a mutually beneficial relationship.

What goes into successful vendor management?

In the language and localization industry, language translation vendors play a critical role in helping organizations achieve their business goals through translation and localization services. According to Margarita and Toby, there are four primary processes and factors for evaluation that need to be considered before embarking on one’s vendor management processes. These processes and factors are: business maturity, technology and niche industries, relationships and emotion, as well as forming the right “dream team”. Below, we explore each one in more detail.

1. Business maturity
Business maturity is when an organization has grown to a large enough scale to need help from external partners. Oftentimes, this involves using the services of a translation and localization company so that the business can scale to new locations. When considering business maturity in the context of vendor management, Margarita and Toby say that the following questions are critical to ask and answer:

  • When do we actually decide to hire?
  • Does it pay off?
  • How do you measure that?

When you have a clear idea of when and how you will hire your language translation and localization vendor, organizations and businesses also need to work out whether the move will pay off and how any key performance indicators will be measured.

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2. Technology and niche industries

The two speakers at this presentation quoted Sean Gerety when discussing technology and niche industries, who said: “The technology you use impresses no one. The experience you create with it is everything.”

As such, technology should be leveraged in a way so as to build relationships and streamline operations. It’s about determining the need for vendor management, scoping out whether there is sufficient talent, deciding on what special training needs to be undertaken by the vendor, and incorporating technology for a mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and its vendors.

3. Relationships and emotion

Vendor relationship management is not just about crunching numbers and using numerical data to help you reach a decision. It’s also about building relationships and juggling multiple areas at the same time for a successful outcome. When an organization deals with different types of suppliers, including linguistic and translation suppliers, it is common to think that business is business but oftentimes this needs to be supplemented with strong emotional intelligence as well as vendor support for optimal results.

The Dream Team

Vendor Management From a Vendor's Perspective: Key ProcessesFinally, a vendor management system and vendor relationship management would only be complete with the necessary leadership that needs to drive relationships and organizations forward. As the ideal leadership formula, five “Ts” are brought together for the ultimate results and which contribute to ideal vendor management. These are:

  • Traceability: traceability can help ensure excellence in vendor management by providing a clear record of performance, allowing businesses to make informed decisions about which vendors to work with in the future. With traceability, businesses can track vendor quality & delivery times among other key metrics, which enables them to optimize management processes and select the right vendors for each job.
  • Trackability: trackability can enable excellence in vendor management by providing real-time visibility on progress and project statuses. This allows businesses to quickly identify and rectify issues that may arise, ensuring timely delivery and high-quality work. Additionally, trackability can help traceability and monitor performance over time, enabling data-driven decisions on vendor selection.
  • Teamwork: teamwork supports excellence in vendor management by fostering collaboration and communication between all stakeholders, be it vendors, project managers, vendor management or sales. By working together as a Team, businesses can ensure that everyone involved in the project is aligned on goals, timelines, and expectations – leading to reduced errors and improvement on overall project quality. Additionally, effective teamwork can enable stronger relationships with vendors, promoting long-term partnerships and increased engagement.
  • Transparency: transparency can help excellence in vendor management by promoting open and honest communication between all parties involved. By sharing transparent information on project goals, timelines and budgets, businesses can help vendors understand their expectations and work more effectively to deliver high-quality results. Transparency can also help to build trust, leading to stronger relationships and heightened performance and motivation.
  • Technology: with technology, and the ability to use it to its fullest potential, vendor management can streamline workflows, automate repetitive tasks and gather real-time data insights. With the assistance of technology, vendor management can support vendors better, track progress and monitor quality (among many other things), all of which can improve efficiency and productivity for all involved, whilst reducing costs and maintaining high-quality work.
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Closing remarks

In the sphere of language translation vendors, it’s critical to bring together all of the elements of successful vendor management and consequently, carry out accurate vendor assessments for optimal results. This can only help organizations grow, thrive, and compete more effectively on a global scale.