How Translation Management Systems Work

Everyone's talking about translation management systems. That's because if you want to run an efficient, organized and lucrative localization project, you'll need a sturdy platform at its base. Find out how they work here.

If you’re thinking about localizing your website or software, you’ve probably heard about translation management systems. Because if you want to optimize costs, streamline workflow and pull off a seamless localization project, you’ll need a robust platform at the core. Translation management systems work by keeping all localization stakeholders on the same page. Team members spread out by distance and time can keep in touch through one single platform. Developers can upload context and leave comments for translators. Translators can work directly within one platform. Communications are more efficient and deadlines stay on schedule. But how do they actually work? Let’s take a closer look.

Translation Management Systems Make Automation a Breeze

Just picture the scene. You have a client website or mobile app to localize into thirteen languages. Your client wants to provide the information via Word documents or spreadsheets. You have translators working with different software and different versions, in different parts of the world. That’s a lot of people to coordinate and huge potential for compatibility and conversion issues! Translation management systems work to make automation easy. You can reduce the room for human error, by cutting out the need to go back and forth through email threads and documents edited twice over. Translation management systems make use of APIs for automation. Instead of having to take on each new language and project and input a variety of different file formats and locales, your programmers can integrate them into your localization workflow. Phrase’s translation management software supports all common file formats and is constantly adding new ones to its capability. It’s easy to update keys, import and download locale files and keep your localization projects organized. And better than that? You get to do away with tedious manual work for good!

Your Translators Can Type Directly on the Web

If you’ve ever overseen a manual localization project, you’ll know all about what a headache it can be. Sending files to your translators, or isolated strings without context, that they have no idea how to translate. Emailing documents to your programmers in a different language that they don’t know how to break up or display within the dimensions of the website or software. The words “total nightmare” come to mind, as lengthy delays, massive errors and a ton of time is wasted. Enough! That’s why translation management systems exist! Just imagine a software that would allow your translators to translate websites with perfect contextual information! They could see if they were translating a paragraph, pop-up window, or call-to-action. They would know how much space they had to work with and come up with the appropriate wording. And they would no longer have to guess the context of random strings or get lost in spreadsheets or documents. Oh, and your client gets their work back faster. Win-win! Being able to translate directly online gives everyone the freedom to make the most of the skills they bring to the project. You don’t have to try to transform your translators into programmers. You don’t have to force your programmers to become linguists. And you don’t have to give extensive training to proofreaders, who barely know what HTML means. Instead of pushing your team members out of their comfort zones and risking errors and delays, they have a simple interface to interact with. They won’t have to waste time deciphering source files because they can get to work right on the web. Even better than that? Good translation management systems also include an in-context editor that allows the non-technical members of your team to work with ease. They can get access to all the information they need from the editor. This includes notes from the project manager, instructions and access to previously storied frequently used terms.

Your Team Can Collaborate Efficiently

When you’re working with so many different skill sets and people, from local marketing advisors to product managers, programmers to translators, a lot of communication is involved. All those people working far away and in isolation can lead to chaos and discord. When everyone is working on their own versions of Word and receiving documents to translate without context, that leads to a lot of questions. Wouldn’t it be easier and faster if your translation management tool allowed your people to communicate from inside it? Your translation management system allows spread-out team members to get together and communicate on one platform. The same place where your entire localization project details are stored. You no longer have a freelance translator feeling alone and confused in Moscow, waiting for the sun to come up in Miami, so your developers can solve their problem. Simply leave all comments, feedback, questions, doubts, and even friendly messages to encourage teamwork directly in your translation management system. You can even upload screenshots and any other appropriate context that your team needs, if you’re working on localization of a mobile app or video game, for example. Awesome collaboration functions empower teams to work better and more efficiently. And if you’re not ready to quit on Slack just yet, Phrase allows you to integrate with your favorite project management software. Does it get any better than that?

Reduce Costs and Get the Best out of Your Project Managers

Having a robust platform in place that allows your team to communicate, type directly on the screen and automate repetitive manual work is extremely helpful. It cuts down on the number of hours your project managers spend coordinating your localization projects. This means that you can go ahead and take on more clients and manage more projects with greater efficiency and speed. Your project managers’ resources can be put to way better use than babysitting your team and trawling through Outlook threads trying to find the right email. As your translation management system optimizes your workflow, you can concentrate on winning more contracts and increasing your bottom line. You can also get a snapshot view of a project at any given moment. Just imagine no longer having your superiors asking for the same information 10 times! Or asking multiple people the status of a certain file. All the information needed is there for anyone authorized to see. This makes it much easier to keep to deadlines and set an accurate budget for localization projects, track your hours spent and increase efficiency. You can also say goodbye to having to sign into your emails and manually keep tabs on everyone. Your system will simply notify team members when they have new tasks to complete, or when content is ready for translation or integration.

You Get a Great Translation Memory

The elephant of the translation world, all good translation management systems will provide you with a translation memory. This is vital when you manage multiple projects with commonly used terms. It stores all your past project information and acts as a memory from which you can easily recall files and work previously completed. When your translators are hard at work on a new piece, the translation memory will help them speed up their work by remembering past translations used and suggesting results. A little like the predictive text feature on your smartphone. Let’s say you’re working on a medical website with commonly used terms or even a certain list of keywords. Your translation memory allows your translators to quickly select the words that come next, giving them a major shortcut to completing their work. This reduces the number of working hours and speeds up efficiency, as well as lowering cost. If you’re worried about the memory overriding your translators, you needn’t be. You can easily switch that function off when desired. What’s more, your translation memory will only suggest words to use in the locale you’re working in. So, if you’re writing in German, you’ll only get previous terms in German. You won’t have to contend with multiple language options that aren’t relevant to the work in hand.

Searching for Information Is Super Easy

When you want to get maximum efficiency out of your localization project, it’s essential to have the ability to easily search for information when you need it. You never know when a client may request an edit or revamp of a past project. If you work with many clients and hundreds of translations, that would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack! Luckily, translation management systems such as Phrase include a versatile search function that lets you recall information instantly. You’ll avoid wasting time and delaying client response times, as well as unnecessary frustration, knowing that you can find what you’re looking for easily. Just compare easy, real time to search on your software to manually going through backed up copies on your desktop or servers!

Take Translation Management to the Client

You’ll probably manage most of your localization projects in-house. But, that doesn’t mean it won’t come in handy for your clients to be able to interact with your team as well. They can give approvals, check on milestones, add new tasks and generally bask in the glory of the efficiency of your project as well! Translation management systems can be accessed by your clients. This means that they can request new projects from directly within the system, leave feedback and valuable comments. Your translation management system effectively sells itself and your team’s work. It acts as a sales rep by taking on new orders and communicating these to your team. You won’t have to go after as many new projects or hound clients when they can simply and easily reorder work from within the same platform. Not only are you able to efficiently manage your team, but you can manage your clients as well.

Wrapping It All Up

Translation management systems come in many shapes and sizes. But, well-rounded solutions, like Phrase, will allow you to automate manual tasks, integrate with multiple programs and accept various file formats. Your team can manage everything from inside one place and translate directly on the web. They can get context, access past projects, collaborate easily, have access to key context and information. No more manual work. Missed deadlines become a thing of the past and human error is eliminated. You get simple, effective localization at its very best.