Translation project management is a complex task that requires careful attention to detail. It involves coordinating all stages of the translation process, from the initial planning stage through to final delivery of the translation and beyond, while ensuring proper administrative and relational follow-up. What are the stages of good project management?
The primary role of translation project management is to ensure that the project is properly understood. This involves clarifying and determining the project requirements (source and target languages, volume of text to be translated, level of complexity, expected format, deadlines, budget, target audience and translation objectives, etc.). This phase must be carried out in close collaboration with the customer to ensure that all requirements are understood and met. It is also a phase of exchange with the client to check that all the necessary material is available and usable, and that the project can be carried out as it stands or to propose other possibilities that will satisfy the client.
The second stage of translation project management consists of identifying the resources required and comparing them with those available, both in terms of material and human resources. Depending on the customer’s requirements, the documents to be translated (file formats), the deadlines and the teams available, the project manager selects the right tools and processes to successfully complete the project. This is also the team selection stage. The team may include professional translators, proofreaders, editors, subject specialists and other experts (business consultants, graphic designers, etc.).
The person in charge of the project then sets about preparing the working documents for the teams. This phase can be as simple as transferring a Word file from the client to the translator, or as complex as transforming an unusual data format into a version that is easy for the translator to read and edit by removing tags or other contextual elements that must not be changed, while still providing for the client to receive the document in its original format. It is also at this stage that projects are created in CAT software and any pre-translations are launched.
Once the translation team has been formed and the resources assembled and prepared, translation project management involves assigning tasks to each team member and setting up a timetable for each stage of the translation process. This includes the start and end date of the translation, the revision and correction date, and the planning of all stages up to the final delivery date.
Another vital aspect of translation project management is communication. It is essential to maintain regular communication with the client throughout the translation process to ensure that all requirements are met and that the project progresses according to the agreed timetable. Communication must also be maintained between members of the translation team to ensure that any issues are resolved quickly and efficiently.
At the end of the project (or sometimes on-going in the case of staggered deliveries), translation project management should include quality control measures to ensure that the translation is accurate, consistent and meets the customer’s requirements. This may include proofreading, correction and quality checking processes to ensure that the final product meets established quality standards. This quality control can be partially automated using various tools, but still requires a human eye.
Throughout the project, it is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure the administrative follow-up of the project: quotes, purchase orders and invoices must be generated correctly and sent to the right people on time. This is all the more important in large organisations where the accounts department, for example, will never have seen the project in question.
Looking at all the previous steps, you might think that project management is the preserve of translation agencies and large organisations, but freelance service providers also do project management. When a customer contacts them with a new request, they go through the same stages as an agency: they check that they understand the request, that they have all the documents they need and that they can handle the job, submit a quote, prepare the document in their CAT software if necessary, compile translation memories and glossaries, set themselves targets and deadlines, carry out proofreading and quality control… In fact, the only stage that is not applied at freelance level is that of assigning tasks to teams (and even then, freelancers sometimes work in pairs for their proofreading or call on industry experts to complete their research).
In short, managing a translation project is a complex task that requires careful planning, effective coordination of the translation team, regular communication with the client and rigorous quality control and monitoring measures. By following these steps and working with skilled translation professionals, you can ensure that your translation project is a success.