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Supplier Diversity Programs are recognized by many global brands as a strategic competitive advantage. In the Healthcare industry, supplier diversity is mostly encouraged through state-funded programs by state mandate. This is why for our Healthcare Translation services, we maintain our WBE and WBE-N certification, and why we recently obtained BEP (Business Enterprise Program) certification to serve health plan providers in Illinois. Language Solutions is also ISO 9001:2008 certified and HIPAA compliant.

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Growing interest in supplier diversity and mandates by the state has put some Healthcare organizations on the spot to switch vendors. Here are a few recommendations to choose a reliable partner:

1. Take a strategic approach to supplier diversity

Vendor management can have a lasting impact on longstanding relations. Too often have we seen vendor decisions being made for the sake of cost cutting and consolidation, without the evaluation of departmental needs, relationships that were built and quality standards that are followed. When we lost clients in a consolidation effort among departments, we’ve witnessed dissatisfaction grow and some clients have even reversed the decision because the department needs could not be met by the same supplier.

By embracing a diverse vendor/supply base, impacts from supplier diversity mandates can be better anticipated. Understand your departmental needs and level of quality to know what you may need from a new certified vendor. Things to consider:

  • Healthcare experience and Quality Standards – Does your vendor selection force you to get away from the core competency of healthcare translations? What other quality standards does this vendor follow and can they demonstrate proven experience?
  • Size – Most supplier diversity programs are there to help small and mid-size businesses. What are the benefits of going with a smaller company? Smaller businesses may be higher in price than larger firms, but are also usually more specialized and are customer service oriented. Consider also the position the vendor takes in its own supplier management, such as the availability of good quality translators and staff. High ethical standards among vendor / client relationships are just as important to maintain consistency and high quality translations.
  • Resources – Besides the service, what other resources does the new vendor bring that could bring value, such as a translation strategy or additional consulting on translation technology? What can the new vendor do to establish a collaborative environment where multiple vendors may be responsible for the same service? Those organizations that can rely more on independent or vendor agnostic technology and processes are better prepared to switch over to other vendors.

2. Establish and distribute your translation assets 

When introducing a new certified translation vendor to the organization, that vendor will likely have to remain consistent with translation work that has been done. If the existing vendor keeps a Translation Memory and Terminology Database (Termbase, Glossary), those assets will have to be shared with the incoming translation vendor. Most Translation Memory technology is standardized around the TMX standard. This allows different vendors to work with the same assets.

Ask your translation vendor about the translation assets and what their policy is for sharing this information. Companies are often not made aware that Translation Memories and Termbase assets are owned by the company, not the vendor. A small fee may be assessed when extracting text into a workable format, but most translation vendors like us can work with almost any native Translation Memory format that is out there.

3. Establish metrics

Global ReadinessConsider going beyond just meeting the necessary requirement to allocate a percentage of business, instead establish metrics to evaluate supplier performance based on the requirements of the stakeholders involved. In previous posts, we’ve recommended an outcomes based Balanced Scorecard approach to client/supplier relationships. This allows insight into the key metrics that need to be met by every supplier.

An outcomes based relationship looks at what both the vendor and client can do to reach the business goals of the organization with goals, objectives and outcomes. This may uncover different needs among departments where supplier diversity may be a good solution, as opposed to looking at traditional metrics like scalability and cost control that may favor vendor consolidation.