Translation Project Management

Translation Project Management: Then and Now

The last thing that marketers, developers, or whosoever entrusted with translation at a company wants to worry about is translation project management. And with good reason. Even today, many companies are doing it manually, when translation software is available to speed up the process and relieve the burden for all involved.

Though project management is usually done by translation companies, it pays for enterprise buyers to understand the steps involved and see how automation can make it easier and cheaper.

Steps in Translation Project Management

Here are the typical steps in translation project management when done the traditional way, contrasted with how it happens using modern software.

File Preparation and Hand-Off

With a traditional process, humans must collect all content that needs to be translated before it is sent out for translation. This doesn’t mean just the visible text, but also the code and any text within images. This needs internal coordination with the developers, as extraction of all content can only be done by localization engineers. Note that developers have to spare time from their core task of product development to do this or you may have to hire dedicated staff. Either way, it entails additional cost to you.

The prepared source files, along with any glossaries and translation memory (TM) files, need to be sent to each translation agency or freelancer whom you work with. As it’s quite common for companies to work with one or more translation vendors, imagine the number of emails or communications that ensue, and the resulting complexity.

Both of these steps are unnecessary in case of website or mobile app translation with a translation software solution like Smartling. Thanks to our translation proxy tool – the Global Delivery Network – content extraction including text, images, and code is all done automatically after the initial implementation. It requires minimal or no involvement from your developers.

Also, Smartling is a cloud-based platform. Your translation agencies and their employees or freelance translators can log in from anywhere in the world and work, as long as they have an internet connection. So, no repetitive mailing of files is necessary. Have you noted the amount of time you already saved by not having to manually do the file preparation and hand-off steps manually?

These steps are associated with a product development method that’s fast becoming obsolete. It used to be that new versions of software were released every year or once in two years. Agile development has changed all that. Software companies today develop and update their products constantly and in shorter, smaller iterations. Hence, there are also accompanying changes in the way content is produced and translated.

Agile localization software needs to detect when new content is available for translation, pull it from the content management system (CMS), push it to the translators, receive the translated content back, and push it to your website. Human project management in such a scenario can only serve to delay things.

Another constant irritant with localization project management is the different file formats and having to make sure that all your translators are working in the same computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, or at least the ones you prefer.

These worries, too, cease to exist once you switch to a modern translation software solution like Smartling. It works with all file formats and has in-built CAT tools. However, if a translator wants to work with their own preferred tool, they can download the source content, take it to the tool of their choice, translate, and upload it back into Smartling.

Receiving and Approving Quotes

While the initial steps consist mostly of preparatory tasks at your end, there’s one more at the agency’s end. After receiving the translation files, the agency, in the conventional method, uses a CAT tool to estimate the number of words and prepares a quote, taking into account what type of project it is and what services you require from them. The agency sends a quote to you every single time you send a translation project across and you’re required to approve it.

When you work in a translation platform like Smartling, you agree with your vendor on rates according to language pair and project type beforehand. Hence, there’s no need for the vendor to do the quote step again and again. In an agile localization scenario, there’s no place for such a step.

Assigning Translated Files to Reviewers

This step may be done by the language service provider (LSP) when the agency is also doing the review on its own. Or as is more common, you may assign it to in-country reviewers who may be your own bilingual employees or another LSP.

With a modern software solution, your pre-designated workflow will take care of the translation, as it passes from one point to the other. If you stipulate that once a translation project is marked complete by the agency, it should go to your team of reviewers, it’ll go directly to them without your having to push any buttons.

But it’s not just about file delivery. Linguistic quality assurance is a very complicated and time-consuming process. In a tool like Smartling, reviewers can communicate directly with the translator, if need be, to discuss why a term was translated in a certain way. They can also see the translation in-context, that is, as it’ll appear on the website. This makes the review process go faster. All conversations and versions related to a project are associated with it and saved for future reference. Thus, everything is in the cloud and centrally available to all parties concerned.

Inserting the Translations Back In

As you can well imagine, when this is done manually, it again requires developer involvement. However, if you use a modern translation management system, it automatically pushes all approved, translated content back to the localized site without human involvement.

Creating and Sending Invoices

When the project is complete, the translation agency will create and send you an invoice. When this information isn’t tracked in a central place, you have no easy way to verify the actual final word count, and no way to understand what type of discounts may be available to you due to your translation memory usage.

With a modern translation software solution, you can easily export detailed reports by language, date range, and project to verify the accuracy of your billing statements. Also, you can track your translated content and translation memory in a single place to ensure that you’re getting the best possible discounts by using your existing translated content database.

Thus, it’s clear that translation project management, when down with the help of automation, is easier, faster, cheaper, and also results in huge quality improvements.