Translation Management Systems 101: What is a TMS & How to Choose?

What is a translation management system (TMS)? What solutions are available and how can you choose the right one? These questions and more answered here.


What Is A Translation Management System?

A translation management system is a system designed to manage the localization and translation of language assets. This is also commonly known as translation management software, and aids greatly in managing translated assets at scale.

When translating a large amount of content, it becomes difficult to manage the many different languages and dialects. A translation management system helps businesses organize and manage their translated assets and allows all parties to work collaboratively. Translation management systems go a step further than just translating text, these systems allow you to maintain brand vision and identity by helping to ensure the translated content is contextualized. In a translation management system, much of the translation is accomplished automatically with the use of machine learning or AI, then revised by native speakers for context.

Should I Use a Translation Management System?

Without the use of a translation management system, translation management typically happens by dividing text into blocks, or “strings”, and collaborating with a translation services provider by email. This method of managing translations is fine for small projects, but a translation management system is something to consider if you’ve outgrown managing your translations via spreadsheets.

Benefits of a Translation Management System

Scalability The difficulty with managing content and translations is that more content means more to translate. The task of managing a translation project becomes burdensome when either the volume of text or the number of translations increases. A translation management system removes much of the manual labor involved in managing translations. Instead of being labor heavy, a translation management system automates much of the translation process to enable scalability, no matter how much content needs to be translated.

Versatility Many of the translation management systems available have integrations for common content management systems. Enterprise level translation management systems like Smartling, for instance, offer a full stack approach to integration by tying in with content management platforms, eCommerce solutions, help desks, and more. This centralized integration makes deployment of new language translations effortless.

Simple and Collaborative Translation management systems allow for custom workflows and automation procedures. Translation progress can be monitored in real time, and alert users as translations finish.

Brand Loyal There are some translation management systems that allow you to direct brand tone to translators, and provide guidelines to make your brand sound consistent in every language.

Translation Management Systems Prioritize High Value Content. Enterprise translation management systems have integrated analytics and reporting, allowing you to see the direct ROI impact of localization efforts.

Kinds of Translation Management Software / How to Choose

Translation management systems vary in complexity between providers. Budget friendly translation management systems offer DIY or quick plug-and-play translation solutions, where text is translated through an API. On the other end, enterprise translation management systems offer more features to extend the scalability of your project.

The type of translation management system you choose depends on a few things:

  • The volume of language assets that need to be managed
  • The number of languages and regions that need to be represented
  • The number of platforms that require localization (i.e. smartphone app, website, help desk)
  • The number of parties involved in collaborating on the localization project
  • Requirements regarding brand tone, diction, and style

For a modest amount of translations and language assets, a less expensive translation management system may be suitable. For a large volume of assets, several regions, languages, and locations, multiple collaborators, and strict guidelines regarding your brand, an enterprise translation management system is justifiable.

About Smartling

Smartling’s enterprise translation management system has a range of utilities to aid in your localization efforts. Our translation management system has native integrations for the most popular eCommerce platforms, content management systems, help desk portals, marketing hubs, and repositories to make localization effortless. Smartling has a team of talented translators from all over the world to provide accurate translation in any language.

Ready to learn more? Contact us to get started.