In case you are wondering what a translation management system (TMS), or more specifically, a translation business management system (TBMS) is, and whether you should implement one into your individual IT-landscape, this article will help you to understand the main features that a TMS offers for language service providers (LSP’s) and language departments, and why it makes sense to integrate such a tool into your translation management processes.
Challenges of the Language Industry
But let’s start from the beginning: Every business has their own pain-points that range from the management of customer requests, the creation of quotes and orders, the delivery of a product, and last but not least, the creation of invoices. The language industry is no exception when it comes to project management; however, their business entails very specific requirements that a generic system cannot match up to; from simple to complex workflows, the integration of translation memory and machine translation, a high project volume, to the sometimes complex exchange of files in different documents formats. Every LSP faces many tasks that can only be organized with a management tool that has an exceptional understanding of and is solely designed for the language industry.
Requirements that a good TMS should fulfill
That is why a TMS like Plunet offers a very robust and scalable solution that helps all sizes of companies – from small LSPs with just a few project managers that juggle many tasks, up to large-scale agencies and enterprises with highly complex workflows and multiple project roles – to meet the specific needs of the language industry by helping them to manage and standardize all of their projects in a centralized system, while still maintaining enough customization for an individual approach and a personal touch.
The main benefits of a centralized TMS, however, do not only include the augmentation to automate translations in order to decrease redundant and manual tasks, but they also involve a flexible and easy customization of workflows for dynamic structures and processes. Through extended contact management, including a comprehensive customer and vendor database, even virtual and international teams can collaborate efficiently across the globe.
In addition, a TMS manages profiles of these domestic and international teams of project managers, quality managers, vendor managers, and sales staff, who can run even the most complex and time-sensitive projects in a secure and centralized manner. The collaboration among in-house and external vendors allows for improved planning and scheduling of hybrid projects, in which even the customers can be included as reviewers to increase transparency.
But before we get to the actual project, a few things need to be considered first; a project is based on a request from a customer and does include not only one or multiple language combination(s) and source documents, but also reference materials, style guides, and important project specifications. For example, it is also important to differentiate between various types of language services, such as translation projects, transcriptions, interpretation, MT post-editing, or multimedia projects such as dubbing, subtitling, or a voice-over. In addition, it is important to have the ability to offer different domains that clients can choose from, such as marketing, legal, life science, or technical, to ensure you find and match the best linguists for your projects and to give an accurate insight into reports. With customable project tags for services and domains, language service providers can keep track of the most requested language combinations, service types, and domains and identify the most profitable verticals for the business.
Benefits of a Customer Portal
Instead of arduously entering all of this data into a system and uploading source files as soon as a request arrives via mail, a TMS should offer a solution that combines the need to gather and transfer data and documents throughout each project phase. The Plunet customer portal provides exactly that: here, clients can create a request based on the languages that the LSP offers, they can choose the service and domains they need, and most importantly, they can upload their source files without any limitations with regard to file size or type. This way, all of the valuable information that project managers need for coordination will not only be transferred to the next step of the project phase but the documents will also be transferred as well. The obsolescence of downloading and uploading source files, as well as not having to enter all of the data manually, is not just speeding up the process but it is also limiting the risk of human error that might occur if a request is sent via mail, further improving the accuracy of data in all project phases.
Furthermore, the customer portal offers clients a view of all their projects from requests, quotes, ongoing projects, and invoices, including the tracking of project changes and statuses in real-time. The customized request forms that are available for company or industry-specific information, e.g., for internal departments, divisions, or international offices, allow for a quick and easy project request in only a few steps. Above all, the ability to upload source documents into their own project files folder, from which your customers can also download their finalized files, guarantees secure and direct access to all of their projects at any time. With Plunet sending out automatic e-mails to the project managers as soon as a request is created, the pending requests will be visible in their own dashboard, and the inconvenient risk of an e-mail request landing in the spam folder due to attachments finally belongs to the past.
Practical Integrations between a TBMS and your CAT-Tool
In a translation business management system like Plunet, a project manager can easily create a quote based on the customers’ requests. With customized price lists not only for individual customers but also for different language pairs, services like translations, editing, or proofreading as well as for different domains, the automatic assignment of a price list to a specific project is making the life of a project manager a lot easier. But what’s even more life-changing is the ability of a good TBMS to integrate one or multiple CAT-tools in various ways. To clarify the difference very briefly, a TBMS is the tool with which you manage your business and translation processes; the CAT tool is the production tool where the actual translation takes place.
The ability to integrate your own CAT-tool, however, will give you the option to either upload and read your CAT-analysis log files for automated cost and price estimation or, with the dynamic integration, you will be able to directly connect to your CAT-tool so that the prices will be calculated automatically within a matter of seconds. While Plunet offers a file-based integration for up to 15 different CAT-tools, our dynamic integration can be implemented for memoQ, RWS Trados Studio, and Trados GroupShare, as well as for the cloud tools Memsource and XTM, so that the cumbersome task of quote creation becomes a swift and simple job. Using customizable quote templates that can be sent out from within Plunet, your customers now have the chance to either approve or reject their quote by the click of a button.
Overall Advantages of Implementing a TBMS
Despite the differences between various LSP’s, the common challenges of centralizing data and automating processes unite them all in the undertaking to tackle their everyday work. A TBMS helps them manage, automate and centralize all translation projects from start to finish.
While the customer portal does not only offer a way to simplify the collection of all the information needed in order to start a project, the seamless integration with CAT-tools also facilitates a fast project turnaround by reducing manual steps. But automation and centralization of data are only part of the advantages of implementing a TBMS like Plunet. Companies with a professional TBMS have shown they can grow with their business faster over time because they have the ability to scale, making the implementation of a tool invaluable for any LSP with a growth-plan.