Nearly every language service provider that we speak with struggles to distinguish itself from its many competitors. LSPs often promote quality, customer service, and price as the reasons why buyers should select them. Yet those three attributes make poor differentiators in the eyes of customers who hear exactly the exact claims from all the LSPs seeking their business. It need not be this way. Not all LSPs are built the same way and vast differences in capabilities among them do exist. That is where differentiating on the basis of organizational maturity comes into play.
Following the wide adoption of CSA Research’s Localization Maturity Model (LMM) by buyers of language services, our analysts undertook the project of building a similar model for language service providers. Branded LSP MetrixTM, it describes the journey that LSPs take as they evolve into increasingly sophisticated providers.
CSA Research built the model on the same capability maturity model (CMM) from Carnegie Mellon that we used to develop our client-side LMM. Our analysts identified hundreds of variables that affect the maturation of LSPs, determined the 70 factors that matter the most, categorized them into five dimensions, and mapped these elements against maturity levels that we defined.
To conduct a baseline assessment of their Metrix stage, LSPs need to audit these 70 factors, not only by looking at documented processes but also by talking to staff members about actual practices and clients about their experiences.
Why bother with this exercise? It helps LSPs:
- Establish a clear picture of the state of the organization. This baseline assessment summarizes their performance on the five dimensions of the model, rates their average performance, determines their “baseline” performance – that is, their lowest performing dimension.
- Benchmark their operation against other LSPs. This helps them market their performance as a provider thanks to a more objective statement about their evolved state.
- Prioritize the development of the functional areas that drag them down. While a company may operate mostly at Stage 3, it likely still has areas where it operate at a Stage 1 or 2. The assessment will give LSPs a roadmap of which gaps to address first.
- Map a practical path to progress to the next stage. The assessment supports LSPs’ strategic planning. They can outline a plan of which capabilities to develop and improve, and in which order. Regular re-assessments enable them to validate progress as well as identify areas that regressed due to common causes such as leadership changes, new service offerings, or drops in production capacity.
- Build a culture of excellence. The culture of operational and client service excellence strengthens as LSPs mature. Using the Metrix model helps make a conscious journey toward developing this excellence.
Such a deep level of understanding of how LSPs mature goes beyond the theoretical value of building a maturity model. It enables all stakeholders, within and outside the language services industry, to better understand the dynamics driving LSPs and their ability to respond to issues such as price pressure or technology advances.