Beginning, Middle and End is an e-book that
aims to help freelance translators be successful
by implementing project management skills
in their daily work. It was written by three
experienced translators, Luísa Matos, Rui Sousa
and Teresa Sousa, who are former
project managers themselves.
“WHAT HAS PROJECT MANAGEMENT GOT TO DO WITH TRANSLATION?”
With the internationalisation of markets and companies going global, there is growing demand for the production of information in a variety of languages. More and more, companies feel the need to “speak the client’s language”. This has made it necessary to find qualified professionals to manage all this information.
In the past decade, the translation profession has seen big changes. Translators are no longer just linguists working in isolation, without Internet access. There is a bigger demand for speed as work is done online. Nowadays, there is no need to send the documents to be translated by post. Also, being a great translator isn’t enough to succeed. These days, freelance translators are required to have much more than translation skills. As professional translators, we need to be entrepreneurs as well. “You need IT, marketing, social networking, management and other skills”, as the authors put it. We need to focus on continued professional development, in order to improve our core skills and keep up-to-date in an ever changing world. In the technological and digital era, translators need to be constantly connected and updating their skills.
In other words,
Today’s translators should look at themselves as micro-businesses, having to tackle various tasks and skills and manage different “departments” on a daily basis. Translators are, therefore, managing translators.
SO TRANSLATORS (HAVE TO) DO MORE THAN JUST TRANSLATE?
Like project managers who work for translation companies, freelance translators also need to tackle the different stages of a translation project (on a difference scale, but still).
So, after the initial contact with clients, the managing translator must carefully analyse the new project’s viability with regard to time, costs and availability of resources. The authors explain that a managing translator needs to take several aspects into consideration: size of the project, file format, CAT tools that might be required, client instructions, deadline, etc. Only after contemplating all these aspects can a quote be created and sent to the client.
If the client accepts the quote, you then move to the second stage – planning the project. This is where the project managers will determine which translators to select based on factors such as technical experience and availability. The translators will need to determine their own productivity based on the average number of words they can translate per hour or per day. Then you (finally) get to the execution part and the translation work is carried out. More often than not, managing translators will use a CAT tool, translation memories, and references glossaries while following possible client instructions. This process may be closely monitored by the project manager or by the managing translator, when subcontracting work from a colleague.
After all this, you send the translated document(s) to the client and you can finally take a deep breath and relax, right? Well, the authors remind us that you should make sure that “the client has correctly received the translated documents”. Then, you should file and store all project-related data. Now, can you can take a deep breath and relax? Well, you’ll have to read the book to learn more.
GETTING AND KEEPING CLIENTS
The book dedicates a few pages to client management, which I found interesting. In order to have a successful and long-lasting career, freelance translators need to be good at getting new clients and also at keeping the ones they have for many years.
How to get new clients? The authors suggest translators innovate when contacting companies and organisations by carrying out proper research and personalising their message. Presence on social networks and in conferences and trade shows shouldn’t be disregarded either.
How can you keep those great clients you love working with? Out of the 5 tips provided, I would like to highlight one in particular: record comments. It’s great to receive good feedback but negative comments need to be taken in. After all, “[i]f a serious mistake is made a second time, this could mean losing a client.”
In case you’re interested, the book also comes with a comprehensive list of useful translation project management tools.
If you would like to learn more and read the e-book, you can get it here.