From the client’s first contact to the delivery of the finished document, a translation project entails many steps. And ensuring that everything runs smoothly calls for rigorous coordination, which is where project managers come in. These individuals have a complex and demanding role, overseeing all aspects related to project analysis, quotes, planning and follow-up. Their specific skills and expertise make them indispensable for the efficient operation of a translation company.
Good project managers are above all excellent communicators, with superior verbal and writing skills. They have to respond quickly to client questions and provide clear instructions to everyone working on a translation project, supporting them with tact and diplomacy every step of the way. They are the focal point of each project, liaising with everyone involved and effectively communicating client instructions to the language professionals so that nothing is left to chance.
Project managers are skilled at asking clients the right questions to obtain the right information. What will the document be used for? Who will read it? Will there be accompanying visuals? Are there specific constraints, such as a limited number of characters? They also meticulously document their projects to ensure that, if needed, a colleague can seamlessly step in to take over the work.
Project management takes a cool head at all times as pressure can build quickly when unforeseen circumstances, technical difficulties and very tight deadlines pop up. When this happens, project managers need to be able to turn on a dime and be resourceful in finding a solution to each problem. And to do their job efficiently without losing time on unnecessary steps, they must have a sound work method.
Project managers must always be on top of their game and highly familiar with their resources’ talents so they can assign the right projects to the right translators. They understand that all language professionals have their strengths and weaknesses, and some are keener about certain topics than others. For example, a project manager would assign marketing and advertising texts to more creative translators, website and software content to localization specialists, and contracts and other regulatory documents to legal translators.
Here’s how a typical translation project flows:
1. Receipt of the request: The client asks for a quote on the cost of translating documents.
2. Analysis: What type of project is it? Translation? Adaptation? Localization? How many files? What’s the total word count? Is it a rush?
3. Quote preparation: The project manager provides the client with a detailed description of the services and costs as well as an estimated delivery time.
4. Planning: Will other steps be involved on top of translation and revision? (Proofreading? Desktop publishing? Quality assurance?) Who should be used for the project? Which translators are best equipped for the mandate?
5. Follow-up: Project managers make sure everything goes as planned. They ensure that the timeline is respected, process any updates from the client and, if needed, reassign certain tasks to other collaborators.
6. Delivery: The translated documents, in layout, are returned to the client by the agreed deadline. For long-term projects with multiple documents, or if some translations are more urgent than others, file delivery may be staggered.
7. Invoicing: The project manager records the initially quoted fees and adds any discounts negotiated or offered as part of the project.
8. Archiving: The databases are updated, and the source and target files are archived in a way that ensures they can easily be traced if needed.
Project management specialists clearly play a crucial role at every step of the translation process. Versatile, resourceful and never leaving anything to chance, these qualified professionals are adept at multitasking with impressive efficiency. They ensure that the language experts always work under the best possible conditions so that the clients always get the best possible translations.
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