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Understanding the Best Supply Chain Models for Scale



Having access to the right number of legal translators is key to timely document translations that don’t hold up your business’s operations. During months when you have hundreds or thousands of pages to translate, using a single legal translator means that you’ll have to wait long periods of time to get finished versions back. However, when you have only a few documents, it doesn’t make sense to have your own team of staff translators that won’t have enough work to do.

But how to balance the ebbs and the flows most efficiently? Essentially, this requires having a supply chain model in place that can effectively meet your needs. In this blog post, we share with you the different supply chain models that apply to legal translation services.

Continuous Flow

With a continuous flow supply chain, you have the same number of documents that need to be translated each month, into the same languages. You may have an agreement with a language services provider (LSP) to provide translations for only that amount. Your needs don’t vary much and you have a predictable amount of work to send over to your translation team. Your LSP might be able to assign your projects to the same translators, who will gain a deeper understanding of your preferences and apply that knowledge to each project.

However, many companies don’t really know how much translation work they will have on a month-to-month basis. Furthermore, there might be instances where the scope of the actual assignments changes too much for this supply chain to function smoothly.

Fast Chain

With a fast chain model, quick turnaround times are prioritized, sometimes at the expense of quality. Think about it as the trendy fashion accessory store that needs to come up with a line of quick-to-sell products every few months to keep up with the latest jewelry trends. In legal translation, this might apply to a law firm’s social media—content that you need quickly but where top quality is not required. It can also apply to large documents that you need quickly where a rough translation will suffice.

Fast-chain can engage professional linguists, bilinguals or machine translation. However, premium translation services do not typically fall into this model.

Agile Chain

Most corporate leaders are familiar with the Agile supply chain methodology, in which supply can be scaled to meet demand when necessary. In times where less work is available, businesses don’t need to compensate for services they don’t require.

In many cases, it isn’t feasible to build your own Agile supply chain in-house. An experienced and robust LSP can make an Agile supply chain model possible. Since you don’t have to employ translators on your own, the LSP can simply reallocate legal translators to other client projects when you don’t have projects for them to work on. Conversely, more than one translator can be assigned to your projects when you have more documents than usual to be translated.

Best Supply Chain Model for Scaling Legal Translations

Ultimately, the best supply chain model for scale depends on the company and its specific needs. There are certain companies that have a steady amount of work available on a consistent basis and then a continuous flow supply chain model may be appropriate. However, an Agile methodology works well for the vast majority of companies.

No matter what the best supply chain model is for your business, it can be beneficial to work with an LSP with the capacity to scale up or down when you need it. You can engage the same team of legal translators each month if you have consistent work, or you can scale up to a bigger team of already vetted translators when your company needs to. An LSP might be the solution needed to stay adaptable and meet whatever workload your company faces


If you are ready to work with an LSP that can scale with your business’s evolving needs, reach out to our expert team. For information on everything you need to consider when translating your legal content, check out our ebook, The Definitive Guide to Legal Translations.