Recently, we have participated in two similar medical translation tenders. With the first one, the customer just requested a potential translator’s CV and a volume discount. In situations like this, the question is whether these two considerations are really sufficient for an comprehensive vendor selection process. It is my opinion that a CV provides you with only basic information about what you can expect from this translator in your project. A CV itself doesn’t usually constitute any warranty. For instance, try to imagine an employer that hires by CVs only. Additionally, it might be hard to trust the information in the CV because it’s hard or impossible to verify it. The price is therefore more objective among the two, as it can be easily compared and is plausible. But is the price really the appropriate consideration to base your decision upon when it comes to buying translations? There are numerous examples of how customers select seemingly attractive translation prices, without realizing that a lower price inevitably means lower quality. We ourselves are contacted on a regular basis by freelancers and companies that charge 5-10 times less than we do. Needless to say, they are definitely more likely to win a tender where the choice revolves around the lowest price. And naturally, I don’t challenge the vendors’ and customers’ full right to offer and accept whichever prices they find appropriate. After all, getting a better price is a key reason behind almost any tender. Yet, with important projects, including this tender (operator’s manual for a complex medical device), it might be unsafe to select a vendor based primarily on the price. What quality can the customer expect when selecting the price that is two, three, or four times lower than the other quotes? I do understand though that with some projects you can trade quality for price, but I strongly believe that this doesn’t apply to the medical domain where people lives might be at stake.
Meanwhile, the second tender (with almost similar volume and subject matter), in addition to request for a discount, also included a test translation. This combination seems more reliable because it provides more input for the fact-based decision-making.
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