I’ve worked in Translation Project Management for just over five years now, and I have learnt a lot in that time. Some of it is random; just trivia knowledge about languages. Some of it is the kind of specialist terminology that you’ll need if you have to perform emergency maintenance on a concrete pump while in Germany, but most of it relates to the main part of my job – managing and scheduling translation projects.
As I write this, it’s a beautiful May day when it’s just warm enough, but not too hot, and I can see late-afternoon sunshine through my office window. It feels like the perfect time to share with you my top tip for ensuring that your translation requests can be carried out with a minimum of delay. You see, if you’ve ever had dealings with western European countries in May, you know that it can be harder than you’d think to arrange a translation. Every few years, the planets align in their favour (or to your disadvantage, depending on your viewpoint) and our European counterparts have at least 4 national holidays in the same month. For our Project Management team in the UK, this results in a rollercoaster workload – peaks that coincide with deliveries needed before the next national holiday, followed by a lull while everyone eases gradually back into work after a long weekend. This can be frustrating when trying to organise translations for our customers, so my top tip would be to always plan ahead when it comes to translation. There are multiple factors that affect our ability to deliver a translation, but they can often be countered with some forward-planning.
I touched on this one already. In May, the UK has two bank holidays, both on a Monday. This year, my colleagues in Germany had a holiday on the 1st, 10th, 21st, and 31st May. Where these fall on a Tuesday or Thursday, many staff take advantage of the potential for a four-day weekend. And who can blame them?! It does have a negative effect on translation deadlines however, as it reduces the amount of working days available in which we can work on the texts.
Busy periods and holidays seem to go hand in hand in the translation industry – partly for supply and demand reasons. Christmas, Easter and the summer months are all busy periods when there are more requests and fewer available translators. When we hear that customers are planning a large website or catalogue translation project, we try to advise that this is carried out away from these times to avoid this lack of availability having an impact on quality.
Shorter turnaround times
I’ll admit it, this is not a factor that affects our ability to deliver, but it is always a consideration for us and it does relate to planning ahead. When a translation is planned in advance, we can offer far shorter turnaround times. It will never be possible for 10,000 words to be translated in a day, but we can avoid the additional days that need to be factored in while we wait for resources to be available to start work on the text.
Availability of key resources
Wherever possible, we build a team of translators who always work on requests for a certain customer. For urgent translation projects, it is not always possible to arrange for this team to work on the text, and our customers must choose between their urgent deadline and the risk of using resources who are less familiar with their texts.
In summary, with a bit of advance warning, the STAR UK PM team can pull off some incredible feats. We’re used to factoring this in to our schedules and are also able to keep you updated as to any upcoming dates that may affect timings.
Author: Bethanie, Senior Project Manager