If you want to really connect with your international audience, effective, accurate translation is not something you can afford to skip.
Only by communicating with your audience in their native language can you maximise your impact and hope to do things like sell effectively.
But translating all of your content for different international audiences can be an intensive process. It can take time. It can become more than a little confusing to track. For many organisations, the process looks a lot like a bunch of Excel spreadsheets and a never-ending series of email conversations.
That’s not a sustainable system if you want to deliver a consistently high standard of translated content to your audience. Nor is it good for your translation costs or when you want to scale your efforts.
That’s where your business might need a Translation Management System.
What is a Translation Management System?
A Translation Management System (TMS) is software designed to manage translation and localisation assets at scale.
Using a TMS lets you easily organise all of the different translated content you produce – and the languages and dialects you distribute it in – for your international audience. It also lets your in-house team and chosen Language Service Provider collaborate quickly and easily on different projects.
Many Translation Management Systems automate the repetitive parts of the translation process. They also allow you to customise the way you work and generate reports for you. Instead of you having to scroll through those Excel spreadsheets to check the status of different projects every time.
In short, a TMS streamlines and optimises the translation process, reducing costs and time taken.
The benefits of using a Translation Management System
1) They make collaboration simple
Monitor who is working on what and the status of different projects in real-time. Get alerts and notifications and customise workflows as needed.
2) They integrate well
Most Translation Management Systems will integrate with popular Content Management Systems as well as helpdesk and e-commerce platforms.
This makes it easy to deploy your translated content to where you need it most.
3) They scale well
As you increase the volume you need to translate or the number of languages or regions you are translating for, the complexity and confusion introduced to the process would normally increase too.
But with a TMS, the process is simplified, easy to track, and in large part automated. You can continue to add more regions and more content to translate without fear that your processes will get bogged down.
4) They keep your brand consistent
If you want to keep your brand cohesive across language barriers, having good brand guidelines for things like tone is important.
A TMS allows you to reinforce things like your chosen brand voice to your Language Service Provider or in-house translators. This ensures that your brand stays consistent no matter the audience you want to reach.
5) They maximise the return you get from content
Need to know how well your most recent content has performed? Translation Management Systems designed for enterprises have analytics tools built-in.
Common business objections to investing in a TMS
Translation costs can seem expensive if they are separated from the huge Return On Investment that smart localisation efforts regularly see.
A TMS is usually a one-off investment. But, to some stakeholders, it can feel like an unnecessary one on top of the usual translation costs.
Only when adding up the amount of staff time, money, and resources wasted on inefficient translation processes does the initial investment in a TMS start to make obvious sense.
Some organisations are put off at the thought of the time it would take to implement a new system – transferring all of that spreadsheet data across – and train their team how to use it.
Again, stacking up that initial time investment against the amount of time wasted on every project using your old system is the way to go. It’s the only way to judge whether the time required to implement a TMS would save you time in the long run.
3) Fear of change
If you’ve been using the same system for a long time – even if that system is a house of cards of Excel spreadsheets and email chains – it’s natural to feel a certain reluctance to change.
This reluctance may arise from your team, personally, and from other stakeholders who may only see a system that has not yet completely broken down.
Making decisions that will require big changes is difficult. Even with all of the time and cost savings and benefits in terms of scalability, integration, and collaboration on one side of the scales – and your current inefficient system on the other.
It can be a big commitment. That’s why it’s important to know that most Translation Management Systems allow you to start small and then scale as your reliance on it grows.
Signs your business needs a Translation Management System
1) You translate large volumes of content (or plan to)
The more you translate, the more languages you translate into, the more portals and platforms you use, the more websites, documents, and other content you produce, the more complex translation becomes.
Even a relatively small project can require a large amount of content to be translated. This means that a centralised, easily managed location where you can track all of your projects becomes more and more valuable.
It’s the reason why Language Service Providers like Asian Absolute assign you your own personal account manager even for one-off projects. Having a single point of reference and monitoring is vital.
2) Your translation quality often seems to be poor
Two translation solutions are a symptom of an organisation that needs a proper translation process but doesn’t yet have one in place:
- Generic Machine Translation tools – some of the worst translations are produced by generic Machine Translation tools like Google Translate. Yet some companies still insist on using them, somehow believing that money saved on a terrible initial translation will not sink the entire project.
- Bilingual team members – another solution that many organisations are forced to use is volunteers, frequently bilingual members of staff. Not only does this usually lead to a poor quality of translation – being bilingual does not necessarily make one a skilled translator – it can distract key members of your team from their real job.
Translation Management Systems allow you to easily integrate external translators. You can provide tools like brand voice, style guides, and Translation Memories – databases of already translated terms – to ensure translators keep your brand cohesive across language barriers.
You can also integrate with specifically trained custom Machine Translation engines designed to work on the specific type of content you produce. Machine Translation engine training – necessary if you want your engine to produce translated output of a high standard – requires specialist expertise and lots of clean, subject-specific bilingual data for the machine to learn from.
But once it’s trained, the huge savings in terms of translation speed and cost are there to be seen.
3) You’re struggling to track project progress and performance
Does it take time to figure out exactly what stage all of your various translation projects are at? Never quite sure how well your translated content is performing?
With a whole series of spreadsheets to refer to and a need to track things manually, these are problems that are all too familiar to many organisations. Handling more than a couple of different translation projects simultaneously becomes a serious chore. Poor tracking also risks wasted time and costs.
Any TMS will have a dashboard and several other ways to track the progress of all of your projects. Most will offer other ways to track the KPIs of your projects and refine the data you are getting too. This makes it easy to diagnose bottlenecks and other things impinging your translation process.
Switching projects between different stages like “with translator” and “ready for editing” is usually automatic with a TMS – as is your awareness that status changes like this have been made.
4) Your translations often seem to take a long time
Professional human translation can take time. It’s a skilled and artful process that requires highly trained and experienced professionals – preferably with subject matter knowledge of your industry.
But other parts of the translation process don’t need to take time. Other specialists that might be required by the project – DTP experts or software developers, for instance – might be able to work in and around translators. If given the chance to do so.
Translation Management Systems provide that chance. They allow teams to collaborate and work on the same documents and projects with ease. They power your project through the review and compliance processes to ensure that work proceeds as quickly as possible every time. Workflows never get stopped.
5) Your translations often seem to cost too much
Again, professional human translation is not something it’s safe to skimp on for most projects. If you want to create high quality localised content to connect with your audience, you need a highly trained linguist to make it happen. If you prioritise the cheapest price, you often get the poorest quality.
But that is not to say there aren’t ways that a poorly optimised translation process can waste your money. Translation Management Systems allow you to monitor how much you are spending and where resources might be being drained from your budget.
They can also help you easily factor in other things that affect the cost of translation. Plus, they can help you easily incorporate the potential cost savings possible through the use of properly trained custom Machine Translation engines.
6) You spend a lot of time communicating with your translation partner
If you have numerous translation projects running concurrently, you – or the person responsible internally for seeing that all projects are progressing well – may spend a great deal of time liaising with your chosen Language Service Provider or the various linguists in your in-house team.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Skilled translation should involve a degree of communication, ensuring that things like desired tone and style are hit and messages in your target language are couched just right.
But there is an easier method. A TMS makes it easy for content creators, translators, other specialists, and all other stakeholders with access to the system to ask specific questions, pose queries, provide answers, and disseminate decisions.
All in one central place. All easily monitored. All easy to track. Instruct. And collaborate in. That’s the beauty of Translation Management Systems – and why your business may well need one.
Need to improve your translation processes? Boost your quality? Get a free quote on a new project?
Let’s talk. Asian Absolute already works with organisations in every industry to reach audiences in more than 200 languages.
Request a free, no-obligation quote on your next project. Or set up a commitment-free chat today.