Translation Project Manager – a Busy Bee

translation project manager is a busy bee

What a Translation Project Manager does

Much is said of the Translation Project Manager (the so-called PM) as the person who has control over everything that is happening inside a translation agency. It is believed that he or she is responsible for every aspect of the translation project, ranging from selecting the right translator to the translator’s payment date. The fact of the matter is that – more often than not – the person behind the PM position is not directly involved in all processes until delivery to the end client. As a matter of fact, many other people participate and have an even more determining role than the individual in charge of managing the project. Still, you’ll find out that your PM is a busy bee.

So Many Bits and Bobs Before a Translation Starts

As translators, when we receive a translation request from a PM, we usually do not think of everything that happened back then until our name is chosen for that particular project. We do not think about the negotiations that had to take place between the customer and the agency, all the bits and pieces that were put in place before the actual project went through.

In an ideal world, the PM Would Have His Say Over the Value of a Translation

For that client to have reached the agency, he had to be contacted by the agency’s sales man or had to contact the translation agency. Then, a negotiation of value ​​(with the customer not always thinking that the translation is worth the price mentioned) and terms too (the customer sometimes thinking it can be done in a shorter time) had to take place.

It is only after that that the project reaches the PM. You might think that, at the stage, it is the PM who determines the value of a translation. This is hardly the case. Usually, this is​​ determined by the owner of the agency and, in some cases, with margins negotiated by the sales representative. There are rare cases where the PM has control over the amount to be paid for a translation.

In an ideal agency, the PM would work with the sales department to determine the value of each text according to its linguistic complexity and layout, timing, and other relevant factors. However, most agencies work with closed – non-negotiable – values, with some difference in value for shorter deadlines (the so-called “emergency rate”).

Translation Agency Owner Has the Final Word

In addition, you might think that it is the PM who determines a price per word for the translator. Again, the owner of the agency intervenes. The PM may be able to negotiate an increase in tariffs, but the final word is never his.

Regarding the choice of the translator for a project, it is true that the decision is almost entirely the PM’s. It is the PM who decides which translator to allocate for a given job. However, other factors may influence their decision, such as negotiated discounts with the client (which will consequently change the value of the translator), customer choice, among others.

Translator Reputation – Yet critical – Is Just the Beginning

The translator’s reputation in terms of quality, timely delivery and specialty in the subject are fundamental aspects when making the decision. Even so, a PM may decide to choose another translator for different reasons. Many agencies prefer to work with the same translator for a particular client (using that old maxim that “do not mess with a winning team”). Many translators are experts in the subject, but won’t accept the fee paid by the agency and the PM may not always interfere in this process.

An Organised PM Will Keep All the Good Resumes Handy

Another misconception is about selecting new translators. The difficulty of getting an answer (be it positive or negative) from an agency is not always related to the PM’s lack of interest in hiring new talent for his agency. Often, the PM might receive a CV from another translator that fits the agency’s needs perfectly at that time; or that project did not go through; or the PM is involved in another project with a higher priority. An organised PM will keep the resumes sent so that they can contact the translators when the time comes. When I used to apply to translation agencies, I submitted resumes and sometimes would receive an immediate response, but more often than not, I would receive an answer months after I sent my resume to agencies.

“Hi, Honey, I’m home!”

Are you kidding me? There is still Review, DTP, Comments, possible Crisis to manage

Anyway, let’s get back to that translation project of ours. You think it ends here? Not at all! After delivery by the translator comes the review phase, layout (if applicable) and delivery to the customer. And after all that is done, you still have to wait to see if the customer has any comments, suggestions or criticism about the work delivered. It is up to the PM to receive the client’s feedback and pass it on to the translator and/or reviewer, as the case may be, for future adjustments. Then, it might be necessary for the PM to manage a possible crisis (when the translator does not deliver the translation in time or deliver later than what was agreed, when the client does not approve the translation or when the client does not pay, just to name a few).

PMs Need to Be Flexible

What freelance translators need to understand is that the PM function requires much more than simple language knowledge. The PM needs, first of all, to be flexible, to know how to solve problems quickly and to deal with the various human elements involved in a translation project. Just as we translators might sometimes complain when a client is insistently asking if the contracted project is ready, the PM also finds it inconvenient for translators to ask about their submitted CVs, deadlines for payment, ask for an advance, etc.

The PM is a Busy bee – Take Care of Your PM

So next time you do not receive a response straight away to a resume you’ve submitted, instead of thinking that it has ended up in the bin, think about all the other tasks that the Translation Project Manager has to perform during the day. Write, but use your good judgement to know when and how to write. After all, the PM is a busy bee. If you remember that, you’ll go a long way with your Translation project Manager.

Translator Productivity – Why haven’t you taken care of this yet?

translator's productivity - a man sleeping

What is your Translator Productivity IQ?

Let’s talk a bit about translator productivity, organisation and quality of life.

You have a small translation job that, from your experience, should not take more than 2 hours, with a 5 day deadline. When would you start the project?

I’ll start right away unless….

If your answer is: “Right away. However, I will stop whenever there is a message notification on Facebook or I get a text message. After all, there is still plenty of time OR I know the subject by heart. Anyway, I have no reason to worry.”

If this is your answer. You’re not alone.

Got plenty of time, right?

If your answer was: “On the morning of the deadline, I open the file and start translating. I do not want to deliver the project to the customer too soon in advance. Translation is not like Domino Pizza. The customer will not value my work if I deliver too fast. And they’ll think it was too easy to do.”

Well, you’d be surprised to know that many translators and other freelancers think just like that. Again, you’re not alone. Anyway, keep reading, it’s getting interesting.

I’ll Start Translating Immediately and Deliver ASAP

You answered that you would start the translation immediately and deliver the very same day? Then you are part of a very disciplined minority. Yet, even though you are in that category, keep on reading – I have some tips for you too.

Why do we procrastinate? You know you have something to do. You know you have a deadline. You have a rough idea of ​​how long the translation project will take. Yet, you’ll assume a casual attitude. You’re calm. “It’s all right, I have everything under control”. And the reason for this is simple: you do not have an organised routine and you often lose focus.

Having an Organised Routine Is Crucial

As a matter of fact, having an organised routine is crucial so that you are in control not only of your work, but of your time. I know, I know. You already knew that.

The problem is to put the organisation into practice, to get used to having a calendar (and to use it!). To have a strategy in place so as to set priorities and even to decide what does not need your attention and should be left behind. Because yes, there are things you can stop doing, which will not have a negative impact on your life.

During my 25+ year as a freelance translator, I had to learn how to organise myself in order to respond to my customers’ requests, the inherent needs of our work, how to prospect new clients, keep up to date and, above all, pay attention to friends and family.

Yet, I admit it is not easy to organise and keep my focus, but it is less difficult than you can imagine.

Getting organised is a learning process

Something very important that you need to know: no one gets organised from day one, or by just reading about it or just taking a course. Organisation is learning and building habits. It is a slow process, but always subject to improvement. The definition I like best, taken from some of the many books and articles I have read, is: organisation is a process of reduction and selection. You reduce the number of events that really need your attention and select the ones that should get your attention first. There are many tools to help you with this process. Here are some tips for anyone who wants to start getting organised. Simple but very efficient tips.

Find Out Where Your Time’s Wasting

The first is: find out what you spend your time on. You will certainly be surprised to find that you waste a lot of your time in front of your computer with things that are not part of your work routine. You can do this with paper and pen or install some software that captures which programmes, websites and other activities are performed on the computer and for how long. If you use Mac, my suggestion is timing. For PC, Toggl is a good option. Install one of these tools on your computer and use it for a week. You will probably find that social networks, messengers, and emails are the most time-consuming villains that steal time from professional freelancers. You may be thinking: but I need to “take some time off a little” to be more productive, have an escape valve… The problem is that this valve needs to be well regulated and should only be open at the right times. In my case, the ideal is when this valve is somewhere else, away from my computer. A walk, a conversation with some friends, a series on TV. Anything that makes you get up from your chair and move around can improve not only your translator productivity but also your health.

Set Your Priorities Right

The second tip is about setting priorities. One of the most basic and practical tools for those who want to organise themselves is the Eisenhower Matrix. Credited to the general and former US President Dwight Eisenhower, who needed to make quick decisions during World War II, this tool will help you define where to put your efforts, what to delegate, what to schedule and what not to do next. Click on the previous link to find out how to use this tool or start organising your work day.

Set Up a Workflow

Another way to organise yourself is to develop workflows. Document the sequence of steps you perform to work efficiently in a list. Even for those jobs you’re doing with your eyes closed, writing a workflow can help you realise where you are wasting time and what could improve. In addition, you may also find out an opportunity to automate something in your process. Don’t forget: your computer should work for you, not the other way around.

Get Some Sleep for Crying out loud

A very important tip I ignored for a long time: sleep well. It is almost impossible to stay focused and be organised if you do not give your brain the rest it needs. Develop a routine to relax and recuperate for the next day. Always sleeping at the same time makes your body better prepared and makes it easier to go to sleep. What I did when I started to implement this routine was, I used the alarm clock in reverse: I would set up my phone to trigger an alarm at 10:30 p.m. As soon as the alarm would trigger, I was getting ready to go to sleep. It did not take long for this to become my routine. Of course, as they say out there: there’s an app for that! And you can use them to monitor and better understand your sleep. I currently use Sleep as Android, which offers 14 days of free trial.

To conclude, 3 quick tips for you:

  • Emails are very important, but they can also consume a lot of your time. To stay focused, turn off notifications and set a specific time to deal with them. As for emails that you need to respond to quickly, create notifications using filters.
  • If you Gmail, learn how to use filters.
  • Find what kind of music improves your translator productivity. I use Focus@will, which uses neuroscience and really works for me.

In conclusion, there are many tools and methods that promise to improve your productivity and organisation. There is no one method that works for everyone and you may find that one works well for you while another does not The ideal is to test and find out what works for you.

After all, organisation and productivity are a personal thing.

A day in the life of a translator – Of course, I am in control

Plan Your translation project if you don't want to end up in the loony bin

Recent experiences as a translator have led me to reassess my performance in terms of productivity when faced with long translation projects. I noticed that I like to dive straight into every new translating project and, like the vast majority of what I do, I go hard at it for the most part of 3 or 4 days. My productivity is then very high. But on any project that extends more than 2 or 3 weeks, I start to get bored or interested in other activities.

Facing the problem of a big translation project

I’ve translated a few long documents recently and invariably my productivity is sky high in the first 3 or 4 days, while I get the impression that I’m going to end well before the deadline.

So I relax, start accepting other smaller translation projects. Suddenly, I’m into low productivity until finally realising that with the remaining time, it seems like it will be almost impossible for me to complete everything.

Luckily, I panic about delaying the delivery of the translation, so this always saves me.

So in a matter of two weeks, I output everything I have not produced in two months.

Happy ending, but I finish exhausted.

After some 4 or 5 recent experiences like this, I spent a year fulfilling my promise to myself that I would not face long projects any longer.

Until a good customer of mine offered me an interesting project, and then I needed to rethink my productivity and the way I work my translation projects.

Planning your translation project

And this is what works for me:

What I recommend for anyone who has ever seen panic weekends is: be pessimistic. Just because you produced 5,000 words on a great day does not mean you can keep that average for a month. I always do my best to negotiate comfortable deadlines, and in the case of my last big translation project, the secret was to establish and meet a relatively low average, which I could accomplish in half a day’s work, but with constancy. Even though I spent almost two weeks in the project, every day, I would open a worksheet I created and mark another business day, monitoring the average number of words that I would have to output, which was still viable without ending up being committing to the Loony Bin.

If necessary, weekends can be used to increase the average without increasing a working day.

Also, don’t forget that it takes time to review your work. I like to review slowly, not everything at once in the end. You can choose to review on the weekends or just at the end of the project. In this case, I suggest that you calculate a smaller number of business days for the translation, leaving a certain number of days for review only.

In short: plan yourself well and try to be consistent. Leave the adrenaline to the amusement park.

Tips to Get the Best English-French translation – Part II

Getting all the pieces together for your translation project

Optimising the File to Be Translated

In the first blog of this series, I started by giving tips to customers looking to get an English-French translation on how to collaborate with translators, starting with aspects related to planning and reference materials. Now the focus of the suggestions to optimise the process is in the source text that you will send to the translator.

Send the Final Version of the Source Text

Do everything in your power so that the source text sent to the translator is the final and revised version. If it is not possible, the least you should do is highlight the changes made after the first delivery. You can use a different colour font, a bookmark tool, or even a specific tool for revisions, such as the one that marks changes made in Word (“track changes”). In these cases, it is very common for the translator to charge for the extra work and, depending on the volume of the new text, the deadline should be changed.

What you should always avoid is that endless back-and-forth e-mail with multiple versions of the same source text, especially after the translator has started the work. This is the perfect recipe for wasting time and, most likely, money.

Send an Editable File

Translator translates. Simple, isn’t it? However, some people think they can send an image to a translator and get it back with everything just the same, but in another language. Well, this is perfectly feasible, but it is another service that your translator can offer or not. And not all translators offer it (I do). While some of us love desktop publishing and have fun formatting texts, making graphics, preparing tables, creating images … others are not very good at it, do not like it or just think it’s not worth investing in these extra activities and prefer to concentrate their efforts at what they do best: translate.

Type of Translatable Files

Most translators prefer to receive editable files. That being said, editable PDFs are acceptable, but not ideal. Sometimes it is even possible to copy the content of a given PDF and paste it into a word processor, but often the formatting is lost. This is especially true when the document does not contain just plain text.

The best kind of file you can send to a translator is in a format that can be edited and is also supported by the so-called “CAT tools” that your translator uses. A brief parenthesis is crucial here: CAT tools and, more specifically, translation memory software, are not the same thing as machine translation tools. Explained very simply and briefly, translation memories are files that store sentences/segments translated by the user. So when your translator comes across the same content or something similar, the software shows the sentences used previously, helping to maintain textual consistency. One of the advantages of these translation tools is that the formatting usually stays intact.

You Do Not Have an Editable File

In case you cannot send an editable file, the reactions vary from translator to translator. Before you begin work, the translator may ask you to send the material to another professional to make it into editable text. The translator can also choose to type the translated text into a simple file, without worrying about the final formatting. In that case, you will be responsible for accomplishing this task or hiring whoever does it. The translator can also offer the formatting (and charge for the extra work) or forward the text to a colleague who takes care of this task (which will charge its own fees).

Working with editable texts is also a way to reduce the margin of error.

To conclude, I would like to make it clear that collaborating with your translator does not just mean making their lives easier. Most important of all is that there are many things you can do in order to get the best product possible.

Concluding this first series of articles, the next blog will deal with the translation stage itself and what to do after receiving the translated text. Again, I’ll give you suggestions on how to get the most return on your translation projects.

Tips to Get the Best English-French translation – Part I

Lego people collaborating - like a translator collaborating with his customer to get the best English-French translation

Except your English to French translator, the person most interested in getting the best English-French translation is, of course, you. However, because of a lack of knowledge about the translation process, your collaboration may not be as effective as it should. Or, even worse, you may end up disturbing the outcome.

With that in mind, I have listed some measures that should be observed by everyone involved in a French translation. I understand that in real life, the situation sometimes goes beyond our control. So, let’s say the following recommendations represent the best scenario, where everyone wins.

Plan Your English-French Translation Project

It is very important to plan a project in advance and give the French translator the time to do their job in the best condition possible. If you are already accustomed to working with a translator, you should have an idea of ​​how long it takes to accomplish a particular task. However, productivity varies from person to person, from text to text and even from day to day.

Be aware that several “obstacles” can disrupt your translator at any time.

Your translator may have time reserved for another project, juggling two or more texts at a time. He might be able to offer your English-French translation project his full dedication, which is very common.

The text may vary from what the professional is accustomed to translate. This makes the process more time consuming.

The translator may be busy with personal issues or even preparing to take a vacation.

I recommend that you always talk to your translator as soon as you know of a future translation. If your company deals with recurring projects that need translation, there is no reason not to warn the translator in advance. Of course, you can only ask someone to book their time when you have more details, such as dates, text size, content, etc. An organised translator will be grateful to know that a project is coming. They will have this future project in mind when setting up their work schedule.

In your company, make sure that everyone involved in the production of the original text meets the deadlines. In addition, the timeline must take into account not only the work of the translator itself but also the time it takes for someone in your company to make a final reading of the translation. Nevertheless, be very careful: asking your staff to “edit” a translation is a double-edged sword and should be done with great care and responsibility.

Know that very short deadlines are usually accompanied by emergency fees. These are expenses that you can avoid, though. And there’s more: chaotic deadlines can affect the quality of the final text. I will discuss this topic in more detail in the near future.

Reference Materials for the Translation

As far as avoiding mistakes in translating a technical text is concerned, I suggest that you use people from your company who are experts in the subject to provide translators with appropriate terminology and reference materials. This advice is pertinent to all types of text and media. It is important to send to the translator all materials that are in any way related to the text to be translated.

If you have relevant bilingual documents such as previously translated content, do not even think twice! Other useful materials are glossaries (monolingual or bilingual), lists of preferred terms, style manuals, acronyms, abbreviations and acronyms written in length, etc. In general, experienced translators are prepared to detect pertinent terms, phrases, and other style elements present even in monolingual texts. So, go ahead and submit that report in English produced in 2012, even if you do not find the translation into French. Likewise, all relevant texts in the target language (i.e. language to which the text is translated) will be most welcome.

These support materials help you maintain consistency between your company texts. They help your translator deliver a high-quality service. Depending on the case, access to these materials may even reduce the delivery schedule.

As you can see, everyone benefits from of these measures. You increase your chances of receiving an impeccable English-French translation. Moreover, your French translator appreciate the support and consideration that help them meet their client’s needs more quickly and efficiently.

For more tips, read Tips to Get the Best English-French translation – Part II

If Only Everything in Life was as Reliable as a Translation

looking for a reliable translator

You’ve hired a translator to have a document translated into French, thinking that all is tickety boo. Suddenly, everything goes so wrong.

Ever had some pretty Bad experiences with translators?

15 things that could go wrong with your translator

_ Poor translation: Typos, Spelling mistakes, Inconsistencies, Omissions, Terminology is all wrong

_ Translator has clearly not proofread his/her work before delivery

_ Has only a basic school level/understanding of the English language

_ Poor writing skills/no subtleties in the French language

_ Tells you he/she is familiar with a subject when it is clear they are not

_ You get No feedback on the current translating job. Translator is not answering their phone. Worse, they are clearly Ignoring your calls

_ Your Instructions are being followed

_ Wrong format used

_ Translator changed the Names of all (200) files, for no apparent reason

“I’ve been ill, my car/computer/house/dog broke down”

_ Translator tells you his/her computer has crashed and they’ve lost everything, preferably 2 days before delivery of a large and very important document

_ LATE DELIVERY or NO DELIVERY without notification

_ Translator is giving up in the middle of a project or simply disappearing and never sending you the translation?

You’ve probably heard/seen it all, when they are disorganized or simply don’t care

_ Translator HIRED somebody else to do the job behind your back

_ Using Machine Translation

_ Claiming they’re using a CAT tool but they DON’T and/or don’t know how

_ They’re being RUDE and/or lack of professionalism

_ Translator contacting your client to steal him away from you or bad-mouth you

Finding the right English into French translator for your translation project can be a Real Nightmare

Well, at Extra Speech, I work differently and this is why:

Meeting the basic requirements and more

  • French Native
  • Highly Proficient in English: Lived 14 years in the UK, South Africa, Australia and Canada

Years of study and practice

  • 25+ years experience in the translation industry
  • Several million words translated
  • Qualified:
    • MA in Translation Studies from the University of Portsmouth
    • LEA (Hons) in English Language from the Université of Lyon, France

Relevant Expertise to Your project

Only accept subjects I know well – If I’m out of my depth, I will find you the right translator for your translation project

Better Translations

  • A translator who lives in France, with the target audience
  • Natural French – A Translation that won’t feel like a translation

Accuracy and Technical Expertise

  • All your CAT Tool projects handled and a Greater Consistency using SDL Studio (preferred), memoQ or WordFast Pro
  • Right Terminology, with MultiTerm and glossaries compiled over the years for your benefit
  • Most file formats handled, with documents whose layout mirrors the original as closely as possible

Giving You peace of mind

  • Confidentiality and discretion, according to the Code of Professional Conduct of the Société Française des Traducteurs (SFT)
  • Your translation on time, When You Want it:
    • Out of 78 projects this year, every one of which I delivered by the deadline, more than half of which I delivered early!

Making your life easy, saving your time

  • A translator who reads and adheres to your instructions
  • Independent but ability to work with other translators and proofreaders
  • Easy to contact
  • Easy payment
    • Any currency via PayPal or Transfer

So, if you are looking for a smooth translation experience with a reliable English to French translator, contact me now.

Translation vs. localisation

Different cultures require different translations

Definition of localisation – it consists in adapting a product or a service to the cultural, linguistic and technical requirements of a specific country or culture during a translation project. For a more precise definition of “localisation”, visit our glossary.

A little bit of history about localisation

It started in the 1980s when computer companies such as Dell or Microsoft were developing software. They wanted to sell them internationally. They wanted to adapt them to a very specific audience and locale. As a result, they came up with that term originally and from then on, it grew. It became something much much bigger than translation.

What localisation entails

As a matter of fact, when you’re looking at software translation, you are looking at things like encoding for text and design. You’re looking at typesetting, photos, images, colours. Compliance requirements. Linguistic requirements. Cultural requirements. You’re looking at where your audience is. Are they speaking or are they writing from right to left, for example?

As you can see, there are many things that are involved in the localisation process. That is translators use that term – localisation – more than the term translation. Translation is indeed only one step of the process. All depends on the focus of the company and the different areas they are working in. Some people work in a legal area of expertise. Other people focus on learning or marketing. Some people will focus on software and user manual.

With localisation, the freelance translator helps companies take their content and their message and convey it in a different language according to the cultural requirements of the country to which it is sent.

On top of that, there are several elements and components to every translation project to take into account.

Every localisation/ translation project is different

Every client has his own specification requirements. If you work with a video game company, you are not doing the same thing that if you’re working, let’s say, with a business working in irrigation or a big construction company or a law firm. That is why every customer’s project is specific.

The English into French translator will try to embrace the message of the companies he/she serves and convey that message to that specific audience outside of the source country.

A localisation – translation project involves many steps

A typical localisation project involves many different steps. It obviously starts with the client requiring that specific content or product to go to a specific French-speaking country by a certain date, on a certain budget.

From that phase, it starts as the translation project, with the translator. The translator is your contact and the person responsible for communicating with you, for translating and for asking questions about the translation project if necessary. He is also responsible for quality assurance. QA consists in making sure, for example that the right terminology is used. That the language used is appropriate to the target audience.

As a result, the source text goes through different steps, from translation to editing to proofreading. The final translation product is then finished and ready to deliver to the client.