No matter how hard we try, there will always be clients who think that the role of a translation agency is based solely on the non-contributing "mediation" between translators and clients. This is obviously due to a lack of understanding of the industry and the specific nature of translation services, but also to the fact that many clients have already had contact with offices that provide low-quality services and indeed their work did not contribute much to the translation process. In this article, we will try to understand exactly what the problem is, analyse its causes and effects and propose possible solutions.
In their daily work, translation agency employees often have to copy texts, files and other data. Having a request for quote, it is necessary to carefully copy all received attachments to appropriate locations, as well as to save relevant information from the email. Then all these files need to be opened, most often in Word (and if they are in a different format, their content is copied to Word), and statistics on the number of words, characters or characters with spaces are copied to the appropriate worksheet or (worse) written in a notebook.
Then, these files are usually sent to translators (with client’s notes), and after receiving them from the translators once again saved (according to the agreed names, in a strictly defined location), copied and sent to proofreaders, and after the next stage of work - back to the client.
When we want to issue an invoice, we also need to copy data, such as order numbers, dates, company data or file names - and of course we cannot make a mistake here, so it should be done immediately after closing the project. And if we want to analyse the financial situation of the company, then we must ensure that the data regarding the completed orders are copied, for example, to another spreadsheet made available for the entire company or to another program.
Unfortunately, copying data is one of the most frequently performed tasks in the work of a project manager in a translation agency. Here is why. To a large extent it is... caused by lack of time. Sometimes it is faster to simply copy something again and again than to find a way for the data to automatically move to another location - faster and without the risk of error.
The reason may also be the lack of knowledge or skills, or even awareness that there are ready solutions that can do the job (or at least part of it). This kind of automation is widely used in many industries, as evidenced by the multitude of IT solutions used to copy data between different systems, but for some reason this idea still seems to bypass the translation industry.
Copying and pasting, apart for being a tedious and unrewarding activity, is not a problem yet. The real problem that requires decisive action is the number of common human mistakes made, and high level of stress that accompanies it. Manual performance of tedious activities also generates considerable delays. For this reason, clients often decide to work directly with translators, believing that they are able to perform tasks faster.
If clients perceive translation agencies as "intermediaries", their behaviour and attitude will also negatively affect the agencies’ employees and owners. Therefore, it is hardly surprising to observe lack of motivation and willingness to act in people who have day-to-day contact with clients. Especially when they are aware that the work they do could be successfully replaced by modern tools. This can be one of the reasons for lowering the prices of services, and thus also low earnings in the translation industry.
Changing the awareness of clients and perception of translation agencies outside the industry is a very difficult task. From the perspective of translation agency employees, their goal should definitely be to emphasize the presentation of the important values of their work. Therefore, it is worth focusing on emphasizing the importance of professional linguistic assistance and the highest standards in conducting translation projects so that the client can see these values.
These goals can be achieved by using many modern IT solutions. The easiest way is, for example, using tools for quick and easy file sharing, such as Dropbox, Box or OneDrive. With this type of solutions, you can eliminate continuous copying, pasting, sending and receiving files from vendors, colleagues or clients.
Even Google Drive - as a tool for synchronous work on spreadsheets, documents, presentations, but also file sharing - can help improve the quality and speed of work, and eliminate many errors.
Having even little knowledge of any programming language or working with an IT specialist, you can create a set of dedicated programs, scripts, plugins or tools that will simplify many tasks performed every day in the translation office. For example, you can create a script that will automatically save all attachments received in messages with a request for quote to the file sharing system and send a notification to employees about the request.
There are also solutions that can quickly and easily analyse each indicated file for the number of words, characters or characters with spaces, so that employees of the translation agency do not have to use ineffective tools from the MS Office suite, process texts, and in some situations, copy and paste texts multiple times.
Of course, the best answer to the issues mentioned above is to use comprehensive solutions that combine all these ideas, automating activities at every stage of the translation project. One of these solutions is Mantreo.
In Mantreo, every message with a request for quote is automatically saved in the messages database, from where you can make a quote in a PDF file or an email (or both) for the client with one click. Files sent by the client are automatically saved in secure cloud storage (delivered by Amazon) and scanned, i.e. characters and words are counted immediately.
We make backup copies of these files in real time to three independent locations in Europe. You do not have to copy your data to a backup disk at the end of the day. Using Mantreo, you also do not have to remember to pass all client’s comments to the vendor. Information from the client automatically goes to your system, and designated employees can have immediate access to it.
Assigning tasks, receiving files and sending them back to the client is also very easy in Mantreo. Owing to our one-page project overview, everyone in your company sees all the necessary information at once - client data, settlements, finances, tasks performed and their status, as well as project files and all messages exchanged with the client and vendors.
Issuing an invoice in Mantreo can be done at any stage, and invoice data is automatically copied from project data to eliminate the risk of error and significantly speed up the entire process. The invoice items can contain data that is essential to you, such as file names, identifier from the client's system, language pair, order numbers and so on.
Working on improving the image of the translation industry seems to be an uneasy task and of course much more complex than described in this article. However, if you are tired of continuous copying and pasting of data, we encourage you to try modern solutions that automate the work of language service providers. This change will be surely noticed by your client and may also have a positive impact on the image of the entire industry.