Translation Process Automation Trends and Challenges in Translation Project Processing

Translation project management is a popular field where technology is used to increase productivity and overcome current challenges, for instance in the following cases:

  • Agile content development, leading to an increased number of small translation projects and resulting in more project management work.
  • Client’s translation automation, leading to the use of multiple platforms for accepting, requesting or bidding for projects even on a 24/7 basis, which results in higher volumes of project management work and more extensive availability.
  • Reduction of the paid translation volume per project due to the use of large translation memories and machine translation, leading to respective increases in project management costs per project and paid word.
  • Pay per weighted word for all projects and the consequent elimination of minimum charges.
  • High demand, increasing cost and low availability of skilled project managers.

To handle the above and benefit from technology, many of the content producing translation clients have adapted their processes and integrated their Content Management Systems to custom-made or customized Translation Management Systems (TMS) that deliver, usually through portals, the required translation projects to their translation providers. In the middle part of the translation supply chain, the big Multi-language Vendors (MLVs) following the same path, have developed relevant systems that accept projects and push them further down the chain to their local offices, Single Language Vendors (SLVs) and Freelancers (FLs) that will carry out the actual work. The lower part of the supply chain, that of the small MLVs, the SLVs and FLs, are still struggling with the multitude of their clients’ systems and CAT tools, as well as their own systems used for project management.

To provide solutions, the tool developers have been focusing on project management tasks support. Translation Business Management (TBM) software has gained popularity and considerable investments have been made by Language Service Providers (LSPs) in procuring and extending their use over the last years. In response, TBM systems providers are adding functionalities, provide integration with more CAT tools and financial systems, and offer client portals, as well as automation of common translation preprocessing tasks. Following the current trend, the CAT tool providers also provide client portals and enhanced project management functionalities. However, the lower end vendors, in most cases, are not able to use these tools efficiently since:

  • Their clients have their own processes and automations and are not willing to change them to deliver their translation projects and relevant project data to each vendor’s client portals
  • They have their own CAT tool requirements or CAT tools that are different from the tools used by vendors and/or are not supported by the TBM used.
  • The pre-translation processes required are too complex and are not supported by the available TBM/CAT tool workflows.
  • There is usually no available integration between the client portal and some or all of their systems.

To overcome the existing challenges, LSPs are using available solutions through their CAT tools and/or TMS systems, implement third-party solutions or develop and use custom-based solutions that partially or fully automate the translation processes in areas such as:

  • Retrieval of data and files from the client and appropriate storage in the TMS and relevant file systems.
  • Interaction with client portals to evaluate feasibility, provide offers, accept projects, bid for projects, etc.
  • CAT tool pre-translation processing, analysis, and translation kit creation.
  • Optimal translator and reviewer selection, invitation, reservation/acceptance, project hand-off and receipt of deliverables.
  • Project progress monitoring through daily analysis and QA checks against the project schedule and QA KPIs.
  • Receipt and delivery of projects from translators to reviewers and project managers and, afterwards, post-processing and delivery to clients.
  • Feedback receiving and sending from/to clients, reviewers, translators and project managers while updating the TMS with the relevant evaluation information.
  • Invoice and PO creation and processing. Financial reporting and accounting system updates.

The use of automation can have considerable gains such as:

  • Project management time and cost savings from several minutes to an hour or more per project.
  • Ability to respond to client requests round the clock.
  • Ability to continue the project workflow after hours, on holidays and weekends.
  • Reducing pre- and post-processing idle times, inconsistencies and human errors.
  • Improving process standardization, monitoring and auditing.
  • Increasing volume, accuracy and extent of available project data.

Based on the above conclusions, the trend to increase translation processing automation will continue and increase over the next years. What is currently needed is the creation and use of standards and protocols that will allow the exchange of information between the different systems and will assist integration.

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