Translation Project Management That Saves Time and Money (or How to Be a Frog)

Project management. Not the sexiest of concepts. Bulky filing cabinets, the clickety clacks of typewriters, and heavy smoking in timber-clad offices – Mad Men, anyone?

Okay, things aren't quite like that in business anymore. It's all smartphones, emails, and the cloud these days (and we can add remote work to the mix now). But have you changed the way you handle projects, along with your workspace equipment and decor? When it comes to translation, you may be surprised to find your project management approach could use an update. More importantly, it could be costing you time and money.

Are you a boiling business?

Remember the “boiling frog” story? (I know... it turns out the frog wouldn’t just sit there as the water temperature increases but bear with me for the sake of the analogy.) If you don't know the story, read up about the boiling frog before continuing.

So, following the logic of the story, unless you’ve just started expanding your business internationally and have made a point of setting up a robust localization process using the latest translation management technology (i.e. unless you’re a frog that has just been dropped into a pot of boiling water and you immediately jump out of it), you’re probably still having your content translated the old-fashioned way (i.e. you’re a frog in a pot, you've been there for a while, and everything is fine and dandy).

Translating the old way means projects can take anything from a few days to several weeks, and often, a flurry of emails with briefs, questions, files, contracts, payments, etc.

The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with this approach (i.e. being a frog in a pot). It can work for you if you run a small business and you’re fairly relaxed about how much time you need to get translations done (i.e. you’re a frog in a pot and the water is nice and cool).

But who’s relaxed in business? More likely you could do with speeding things up in this get-this-content-out-right-now world (i.e. the water in the pot is not as cool and refreshing anymore). In fact, your business growth probably depends on it.

The water is getting hot, perhaps even starting to boil. You’re still in the pot.

It's time to take the leap

Sorry to get dramatic with the analogy but you get the (boiling) point. In a nutshell, the need for speed has become the default mode in business and the old translation project management approach is no longer time or cost-efficient.

So it’s time to do away with unnecessary tasks, use time more efficiently, and automate repetitive tasks.

But how? Let’s break down the translation project cycle to see how you can do it.

Step 1: Setting up the translation project

Getting everything ready before the translation even begins can be a lot of work. You’ve got to see what needs translating and project costs, resources, and time frames. This can involve downloading files, calculating word counts, uploading work files, setting up translation memories and glossaries, and setting deadlines for each task.

Problem: You’re spending too much time setting up translation projects.

Solution: 🐸Find an all-in-one translation platform that centralizes the whole process and lets you automate project setup🐸

Step 2: Finding and onboarding translators

It’s time to find linguists for the project. Unless you’ve got your own team of translators, you’ll have to look for independent contractors to work on your translations. This involves researching and evaluating their availability, experience, expertise, and rates, among other factors. (Many translation project managers say that this is the hardest part. You may have a perfect candidate in mind, but once you reach out, find they aren’t available when you need them or that their rates have increased considerably since you last worked with them.)

Once you’ve got the right linguists on board, you have to brief them, send them files, assign them the tasks, and answer any questions they have. This means more back and forth – not just taking up your time, but also delaying the translation process.

Problem: You’re spending too much time looking for and onboarding translators.

Solution: 🐸Find a translation vendor marketplace that’s easy to use – quickly find suppliers’ rates, availability, and deadline track record to hire confidently🐸

Plus, using a translation platform that has both a marketplace and a CAT tool will be a huge timesaver – you source linguists and get the translations done in the same place. It also encourages long-term collaborations with professionals on the marketplace and reinforces consistent translation quality. In fact, even if you have in-house translators, it’s worth having everyone on the same platform and working together in sync.

Step 3: Managing translations

Once everyone’s working on their tasks, you’ll likely want to check in and see how work is progressing every now and again. If translators are all using different translation tools, this means there’s no quick and easy way for you to check progress unless you contact the translators directly. More emails back and forth. And more interrupting translators’ work.

Problem: You’re either spending too much time checking in with translators or you’re flying blind and hoping everything is on track.

Solution: 🐸Use a transparent translation platform that allows you to see work in progress (and catch any issues early on)🐸

Step 4: Collecting and publishing translations

Once translations are complete, you have to collect them all, check all the files are reassembled correctly, and publish the content (e.g. upload it onto a CMS, like WordPress).

Once in place, the content has to be checked again to make sure it’s as it should be and makes sense within the context. All these steps take time and can lead to human errors, especially if the person uploading the content doesn’t speak the translated language.

Problem: Collecting and publishing translations is time-consuming and can lead to mistakes.

Solution: 🐸Use a translation platform that automates delivery of content to your CMS🐸

By choosing a translation platform with CMS integrations, content can be imported and exported automatically, saving you hours of work and preventing errors.

Step 5: Making and receiving payments

Payments are not technically part of the project, but someone’s got to make sure suppliers get paid accordingly and on time. This involves working out all the payables, setting up payment methods for the suppliers, checking each country’s tax regulations, and making sure everyone gets paid the right amounts.

Problem: You’re spending too much time on billing and payments.

Solution: 🐸Set up an automated payment system that allows you to pay all suppliers in one go🐸

A comprehensive payment system that’s integrated into your translation platform will automatically calculate the payouts for every vendor and let you pay everyone with one invoice. The invoicing and payment system should also have the tax information for all countries built-in to save you the bother of having to figure that all out internally.

Put things on Autopilot

So, are you still doing things the frog-in-the-pot way? Are you aware of how much time you’re spending on all these extra little things at every step of the localization process? It all adds up – and a lot could be avoided.

The Smartcat team have been thinking long and hard about how to best help businesses make their translation processes more efficient – i.e. how to make them faster and cheaper, without sacrificing translation quality. The result is Smartcat Autopilot.

Smartcat Autopilot is all about automating key parts of the translation process:

  • Finding translators who meet your project requirements (budget, availability, specialization, etc.)
  • Dividing up the work to spread the load among translators
  • Assigning translation tasks to the selected suppliers
  • Ensuring work is on track at every stage
  • Setting up automated payments to all suppliers

By having all these seemingly simple but time-consuming tasks automated, you save time, keep costs low, and ensure translation standards remain high.

Ready to jump out of the boiling water and make translation project management more efficient in your business?

🐸Show me how I can save time and money with Smartcat🐸