Translation management systems: What are they and do you really need one?


2020-07-02 18:00 Smartcat


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Translation management systems are the black horse of the translation industry. Unlike computer-aided translation, something most people in the business have come to understand and hopefully embrace, there is little consensus as to whether a TMS is really necessary — or even what it means. According to our ballpark estimation, just 10% of translation companies use any kind of purpose-built translation management system at all. Of the remaining 90%, some use Excel spreadsheets of varying complexity while others “do just fine” — or so they say — without any tool at all. So what is a translation management system? In a very basic sense, it’s a system that helps a translation company — or a translation team within a company — run its translation-related business. For that reason, it is sometimes also called a BMS — business management system — which, ironically, just adds to the confusion. Let’s use our trusted car wash analogy. In our car wash, the CAT tool is the actual production equipment we use: water tanks, pressure washers, brushes, and whatnot. A TMS/BMS, on the other hand, is the set of tools that you need to actually run the business: cash registers, an online booking system, or even the vending machines for your visitors. So, with this loose definition in mind, let’s look at the key TMS components of a translation team’s toolset. 1. Manage projects First and foremost, translation management systems allow users to keep track of their projects, including deadlines, statuses, progress, assigned personnel, and so on. Unlike generic project management software or Excel spreadsheets, this gives TMS users a broader and more industry-focused overview of their ongoing translation projects. For example, here’s what the project workspace looks like in Smartcat: And here’s a look inside an individual project: Because localization teams often work with more than just translation, some TMSs, including Smartcat, allow users to store and track non-translation projects like desktop publishing, interpreting, copywriting, and other related jobs. 2. Automate orders Another thing TMS users want to be able to do is automate orders: receiving the documents to translate, preparing quotes for customers, generating invoices, and so on. The more advanced TMSs allow customers to actively participate in this process via client portals. In this case, the customer can log on to your TMS, upload a document, and either get an instant quote, or request one from you. Here’s Smartcat’s Client Portal, for example: Similarly, when the job is complete, some TMSs allow users to generate invoices to send to customers. Here’s a couple of screenshots from Smartcat’s invoice generation workflow: Another handy TMS benefit, especially if you work with software companies, is having a continuous localization architecture. With this framework, neither you nor your customers will need to submit anything manually — the system will create new projects automatically, say, when there is an update on the customer’s GitHub page or in their Wordpress blog. Finally, some TMSs actually allow you to make and process payments via the platform. The exact mechanics differ from one system to another. In Smartcat, for example, the platform generates an invoice to the customer with Smartcat as the service provider. Once the customer pays and Smartcat receives the payment, it forwards the payment to the TMS user, excluding Smartcat’s service fee. (The latter ranges from 4 to 8% depending on several factors.) 3. Integrate with a computer-aided translation tool CAT tools are a cornerstone of any localization workflow: They allow language service companies and in-house teams to produce better-quality translations faster. Naturally, if you use a CAT tool and a translation management system, you want them to work seamlessly together, ideally without having to do things manually. Whether you really need a separate TMS tool is another question, but if you do, a good TMS will allow you to sync your files automatically. You don’t have to worry about this issue if your translation platform combines both a TMS and a CAT tool under one hood. For example, in Smartcat, you can click “Open” on any document in a project, and see the CAT tool in action right away — including any real-time collaboration going on within the document right at that moment. 4. Manage vendors and freelancers Whether you run an internal localization team or a whole language service company, one thing that makes you stand out from other service-oriented teams and companies is the number and diversity of vendors you work with. These can be in-house translators, freelancers, other language service companies — and any combinations of those, too. That’s why, unlike generic project management tools, TMSs place an emphasis on vendor management. Most TMSs will allow you to add vendors as users to your account or have them install/subscribe to the same TMS to connect their account to yours. What only a few do, though, is give you access to an actual marketplace of vendors. This can come in very handy if you’re just starting out to build a team of translators and editors — or if you have a project that is too big for your existing team. Here’s what the vendor management part of Smartcat looks like, along with the built-in marketplace: 5. Gather business intelligence Last but not least, and especially if you run a language service company, you want to see how well you are doing over time. This means data and charts on your revenues, spendings, productivity, and so on. This information will allow you to assess your performance and make more informed decisions, like decide when it’s time to change vendors or increase your per-word rates for certain services or clients. Here’s an analytics snapshot from Smartcat: Do I really need it? Although we’re making the case for several must-have TMS functionalities, we actually think there is no need to purchase a separate TMS solution. You can check the article we’ve just linked to for a detailed explanation, but the key points are that it is inefficient and expensive to try to do the same thing with two systems. What you need, instead, is an all-in-one system that covers the whole order lifecycle: from creation and production to delivery and payments. Smartcat is exactly this kind of system. Moreover, after some research and interviews, we decided to focus on closing the “TMS feature gap.” So, if you are one of the many who has to spend quite a bit on a separate translation management system, you might as well check us out. After all, what’s there to lose?
翻译管理系统(TMS)是翻译行业的黑马。 与计算机辅助翻译不同的是,大多数业内人士已经开始理解并希望接受计算机辅助翻译,对于TMS是否真的有必要——甚至它对于的含义是什么,人们几乎没有达成一致的意见。 根据粗略估计,只有10%的翻译公司使用某种特定的翻译管理系统。 剩下90%的公司,有些使用不同复杂度的Excel电子表格,而另一些根本不需要任何工具就能“做得很好”——或者他们只是这么宣称。 那么什么是翻译管理系统呢? 从最基本的意义上讲,翻译管理系统是一个帮助翻译公司,或者公司内部的翻译团队运营其翻译相关业务的系统。 出于这个原因,它有时也被称为BMS——业务管理系统。具有讽刺意味的是,业务管理系统这一名称只徒增了人们对其的困惑。 还是用洗车来做个比喻吧。 在我们的洗车场,CAT工具是我们实际使用的生产设备:水箱,压力垫圈,刷子等等。 另一方面,TMS/BMS是您实际运行业务所需的一套工具:收银机,在线预订系统,甚至是为访问者提供的自动售货机。 因此,考虑到这个松散的定义,让我们看看翻译团队工具集的关键TMS组件。 1.管理项目 首先也是最重要的,翻译管理系统允许用户跟踪他们的项目,包括截止日期,状态,进度,分配的人员等等。 与一般的项目管理软件或Excel电子表格不同,这使TMS用户对他们正在进行的翻译项目有一个更广泛,更侧重于行业的概述。 例如,Smartcat中的项目工作区如下所示: 下面是一个单独项目的内部结构: 由于本地化团队通常不仅仅处理翻译工作,一些TMSs(包括Smartcat)允许用户存储和跟踪非翻译项目,如桌面出版,口译,文案撰写和其他相关工作。 2.订单自动化 TMS用户希望能够做的另一件事是自动化订单:接收要翻译的文档,为客户准备报价,生成发票,等等。 更先进的TMSs允许客户通过客户端门户积极参与这一过程。 在这种情况下,客户可以登录到你的TMS,上传一个文档,然后获得即时报价,或者向你请求报价。 以下是Smartcat的客户端门户,例如: 与此相似,当工作完成时,一些TMSs允许用户生成发票发送给客户。 以下是Smartcat发票生成工作流程的几张截图: 另一个方便的TMS好处,特别是当你与软件公司合作时,是有一个连续的本地化架构。 有了这个框架,你和你的客户都不需要手动提交任何东西——系统会自动创建新项目,比如说,当客户的GitHub页面或他们的Wordpress博客上有更新时。 最后,一些TMSs实际上允许你通过平台进行和处理支付。 不同系统的确切机制不同。 例如,在Smartcat中,平台以Smartcat作为服务提供商为客户生成发票。 一旦客户付款,Smartcat收到付款,它就将付款转发给TMS用户,不包括Smartcat的服务费。 (后者由4%至8%不等,视乎若干因素而定。) 3.与计算机辅助翻译工具结合 CAT工具是任何本地化工作流程的基石:它们允许语言服务公司和内部团队更快地生产更高质量的翻译。如果你使用CAT工具和翻译管理系统,你 自然而然希望它们能够无缝地协同工作,理想情况下无需手动操作。 你是否真的需要一个单独的TMS工具是另一个问题,但如果需要,一个好的TMS将允许你自动同步文件。 如果你的翻译平台同时结合了TMS和CAT工具,就不必担心这个问题了。 例如,在Smartcat中,你可以在项目中的任何文档上单击“打开”,并立即看到CAT工具的运行——包括该文档中正在进行的任何实时协作。 4.管理供应商和自由职业者 无论你运行的是内部本地化团队还是整个语言服务公司,有一点可以让你从其他面向服务的团队和公司中脱颖而出——那就是与你合作的供应商的数量和多样性。 这些可以是全职翻译、自由职业者、其他语言服务公司——也可以是这些的任意组合。 这就是为什么与一般的项目管理工具不同,TMSs强调供应商管理。 大多数TMSs将允许你添加供应商作为用户到你的帐户,或让他们安装/订阅相同的TMS,以将他们的帐户连接到你的帐户。 不过,只有少数几个公司可以让你进入一个真正的供应商市场。 如果刚刚开始组建一个翻译和编辑团队,或者你的项目对现有团队来说太大,那么这将让你受益匪浅。 以下是Smartcat的供应商管理部分以及内置的市场: 5.收集商业情报 最后但同样重要的是,尤其是如果你经营一家语言服务公司,而且想看看随着时间的推移能做得有多好,这意味着要查看你的收入、支出、生产力等方面的数据和图表。 这些信息可以评估你的表现,并做出更明智的决定,比如决定什么时候更换供应商,或者为某些服务或客户增加每个字的价格。 以下是Smartcat的分析快照: 我真的需要吗? 虽然我们提出了几个必备的TMS功能,但实际上我们认为没有必要购买单独的TMS解决方案。 你可以查看我们刚刚添加链接的文章来获得详细的解释。但关键是,尝试用两个系统来做同样的事情效率很低,成本也很高。 相反,你需要的是一个涵盖整个订单生命周期的多合一系统:从创建和生产到交付和支付。 Smartcat正是这种系统。 而且,经过一些研究和访谈,我们决定把重点放在弥合“TMS特性差距”上。 许多人不得不在独立的翻译管理系统上花费相当多的钱,中。所以,如果你也是其中一员,你不妨试一试我们的产品。 毕竟,试一试也没有什么坏处嘛。