Translation Management 101: What is Translation Management?

What is translation management? What solutions are available and how to choose the right one? These questions and more answered here.


What is Translation Management?

Translation management is the systematic process that manages translation of text and other digital assets. This can range from web pages to apps. The goal is not only to make literal translations, but to maintain proper context and meaning in each language and regional version. Translation management goes beyond simple translation; translated content is structured and written in a way that’s natural to a native reader.

Translation management is accomplished one of two ways - with a software and without. The low tech method typically involves dividing your content into ‘strings’ (chunks of text that can include a word, sentence, or a few paragraphs), saving the strings in a spreadsheet, and sending the spreadsheet to a Language Services Provider (a network of expert translators) for translation. The translation of text is used to create content for a specific region and language, called a localization.

Alternatively, you can use a translation management system, also referred to as a translation management software. In these cases, a software aids in the management and process of translating content. Translation management software facilitates scale and provides better collaboration during the creation of new content by giving writers, designers, project managers, and translators an interface and workflow. Translation management software is designed to improve accuracy of translations while making the process faster and more efficient.

What’s The Difference Between Translation And Localization?

Translation is simply taking a set of words and converting them into a different language. Localization takes it a step further by taking regional and local variations in language into account. For example, content that is translated into Spanish can be localized into Castilian Spanish for use in Spain, or Latin American Spanish for the majority of Central and South America. By taking regional variations in language into consideration, you can be sure that content has the same meaning across all localizations in each language that your content is translated into. This includes a process called “transcreation,” where linguistic assets like taglines, mottos, and slogans are translated accurately for each region you serve.

Who Needs Translation Management?

Translation management is important for any business that wants to operate in multiple markets with different native languages. Translating your content and creating localizations is the best way to bridge language barriers in varying cultures and regions. Having content that is localized prevents prospective readers from being alienated by poorly translated text. Localization is needed wherever linguistic assets are used, such as websites, apps, marketing materials, and downloadable content.

What Type Of Translation Management Is Right For You?

Finding the right method of translation management - whether emailing spreadsheets or implementing an enterprise software solution - will depend on the scale of your project and the number of parties involved. The value of a translation management software emerges when the number of translated assets and / or number of regions and languages start to compromise accuracy or speed to deployment.

Manual / The Spreadsheet Method

The manual method of translating and localization that requires sending a spreadsheet of strings to an LSP may seem inefficient, but it can be effective for small projects - a ten page English website being translated to one region of Spanish, for example. When the number of languages and assets starts to make this method cumbersome rather than nimble, it’s time to consider a translation management system.

Translation Management Systems / Software

Translation management systems range from scrappy, affordable DIY solutions, up through custom enterprise level translation management softwares that involve help from a dedicated solution architect. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to translation management, but there are some rules of thumb that can help you decide which approach to use.

For the ardent entrepreneur whose company is trying to break their first language barrier, an inexpensive DIY translation management solution may be just fine. For more established companies, translation management software is ideal. Higher tier translation management software helps you prioritize content to be localized, so you can focus on creating new localizations of high ROI content first. Some softwares (like Smartling) help you manage linguistic assets like writing styles and brand terminology so your localized content maintains proper brand image.

Is Enterprise Translation Management Software Right for You?

Companies seeking out an enterprise level solution to translation management typically fall into one of three categories:

  • Need to Start: Your company is scaling up rapidly and you need to start localizing your content to keep expanding.
  • Need to Scale: Your content has already been partially translated and localized, but your current solution isn’t scalable enough.
  • Need to Optimize: You have a legacy solution in place that’s using localization methods that are no longer best practice.

The most important thing that a translation management software can offer to an enterprise corporation is the development of infrastructure to allow for fast, accurate translations with the least amount of work necessary. Great localization infrastructure is scalable, both with existing and future translations.

About Smartling

Smartling is an enterprise translation management system that was “born in the cloud.” Unlike traditional Language Service Providers, our focus is software first because we know how crucial it is to maintain stability and scalability when integrating new systems. By not treating translation management software as an afterthought, Smartling can offer both expert translation and technical integration in one service.

What Sets Us Apart

  • Smartling works with all languages and locales.
  • Talented writers from all over the world work with our machine-learning platform for fast and accurate translations.
  • Smartling has integrations for the most popular Content Management Systems, eCommerce platforms, marketing platforms, and code repositories.

Ready to take the next step? Contact us to get started.