Asking localization vendors to provide a translation sample is often mistakenly accepted as a lead method to measure vendors’ quality standards. Although in theory the concept makes sense, in reality, it is far from optimal. First, there are a lot more tasks involved in localization, than simply translation. Second, translation samples are often done by the most qualified translators who may or may not participate in the actual translation, once your project is awarded. If a sample is requested, you need to make sure that:
1. The vendor knows how to manage, parse, prepare, reuse, compile, desktop-publish and QA the required files.
2. The translator translating the sample will be the lead translator on the project.
Since this cannot always be guaranteed due to scheduling or other factors, it is often more reliable to check vendors’ references, experience, reputation and track record.