The role of the project manager in the translation and localization industry has been changing a lot over the last few years. Artificial Intelligence, automation, and more sophisticated translation and business management systems have dissolved old work patterns and redefined the tasks of a project manager. While in the past many predicted that machines and AI would replace project managers and their skills, the opposite has happened.
In this article, we want to explore the new role of the project manager in the fast-evolving translation industry, the significance of business and translation management systems in this regard, and the importance of continuous education.
Rule-based automation for project managers
Before we dig deeper into the topic, we want to briefly go into the terminology. With regard to project management, we distinguish between lights-out project management and project management by exception. While the first term means that a whole workflow runs without any human intervention, the latter designates a management strategy where project managers will only intervene when something deviates from the planned outcome.
Project management by exception is the current standard in the translation industry. Business and translation management systems support project managers with rule-based automation, which relies on sets of rules that are configured by humans and can be adjusted at any time. In contrast to this stands Artificial Intelligence (AI), which enables systems, filled with a vast amount of data, to learn and decide similar to a human being. However, implementing full automation for project management based on AI is difficult. This is not only due to the characteristics of the individual projects but also the fact that there is neither a fixed standard regarding the handling of projects nor enough data.
What does this mean for the role of the project manager?
With rule-based automation in business and translation management systems like Plunet, project managers can reduce manual and repetitive tasks significantly. Since the major release 8, Plunet provides numerous automation options. Take as an example the traffic light indicators, which project managers can use to check the availability of a linguist before assigning a job. Or the VendorSearchManager Pro module, which enables project managers to automate the whole vendor search and assignment process in Plunet. With this module, it is possible to find the most suitable vendor for the job by using cascading job requests and the assignment method Top Ranked. Project workflows in Plunet can either be partly or fully automated and adjusted at any time, according to the changing needs of project managers.
With the automation options offered by Plunet and other systems, project managers can use their skills for more complex tasks that require human interaction. Soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, and conflict management have become crucial for project managers and their customer and vendor relationships. Our experience has shown that, when problems or insecurities occur, trust and empathy are at least as important for a successful business as the efficiency of work processes.
With the rise of more comprehensive and complex systems in the translation industry, advanced technological skills also became more important for project managers. Tasks such as configuring the system and setting up rules for the rule-based automation belong to the extended scope of duties of a project manager in the translation industry. This is particularly the case if customizability is a very important factor for the company, institution, or organization that uses the system. In order to be able to respond to the market’s needs, it is increasingly important to invest in continuous education for project managers.
Getting in shape with Plunet Gym
At Plunet, we see technology like a gym. Working with a complex software and understanding how to implement Plunet’s many efficient features and customizable options in individual workflows is something that requires constant training. With our Plunet Gym program, we offer flexible training packages for all potential needs.
There are ample training options available when it comes to project management in general. For project managers in the translation and localization industry, it’s helpful to gain in-depth knowledge of the business and translation management systems that are being implemented by the majority of the industry’s stakeholders.
Targeted project management courses by delsurtranslations
The language service provider and Plunet customer delsurtranslations has been offering project management training courses since November 2019. The courses started onsite before the pandemic hit. From March 2020 onwards, with the COVID-19 restrictions in place, the Argentina-based company restructured the duration and modality of the training courses. With a seasoned team of CLPM-certified project managers, delsurtranslations has managed to count with trainers with the knowledge and hands-on experience to effectively deliver these courses.
Virginia Minhondo, Managing Director at delsurtranslations, points out: “We have the privilege and honor to have partnered with Plunet for our training courses. This offers our students a more complete and practical experience during their learning process, as they can complete their activities as if they were ‘real PMs’. They can access the system, generate quotes and projects, select resources, assign projects, create POs, invoices, etc. In short, our students learn the main functionalities of a management system through Plunet, one of the most robust and well-known business and translation management systems of our industry.”
Until now, 37 students have finished the Basic Level course and 29 students have completed the Advanced Level. The prerequisite for the latter is either to have taken the basic level training course or have at least six months of experience in project management. So far, over 20 students have already been placed in translation project management roles at different companies.
Virginia Minhondo is pleased about the result: “So far, the experience has been amazing. Our students agree that the courses have opened up a whole new world of opportunities.”
In summary, the role of the project manager is quickly evolving in line with the development of the translation industry and the technical progress of its corresponding management systems. Machines and workflow automation will take over manual and repetitive tasks from project managers, but not replace their positions as a whole. Soft skills are becoming increasingly important as are technological skills. This is why continuous education is crucial for project managers if they want to stay up-to-date and lead their translation agencies, language service providers, or internal language departments to sustainable success.
For more information on this topic, please check out the video of Sophie Halbeisen, Plunet’s Director of Business Development, for Talentum360.
delsurtranslations started as a localization company in 2003. The company offers written linguistic services to other language service providers and final clients around the globe. The focus of the company has always been on combining high linguistic quality with excellent customer service, for which not only good translators are needed, but also dedicated PMs who are able to understand the clients’ needs and expectations.