As a translation buyer, you may be aware of the benefits of translation memory tools. But are you familiar with the advantages of automating your translation workflow?

Although it may sound intimidating at first, automating your translation workflow could be the answer to some of your localisation woes.

In recent years, technology has evolved in a myriad of ways. One of the most interesting developments is the massive strides that have been made in automating workflows. In this article, we consider how an automated translation workflow can solve certain translation workflow headaches.

What do we mean by automating your translation workflow?

When my colleagues in the office are asked why they enjoy their jobs, a recurring theme is that every day is different and presents new challenges. However, there is no denying that for translation project management, a majority of the workload comprises repetitive tasks.

These repetitive tasks include importing a file, checking project settings, selecting a translator, creating statistics reports and quotations as well as running quality checks on export of the file.

We are huge advocates for using human translators and for the added value that a project manager will bring to your team. So, it seems slightly counter-intuitive that we also advocate for automating your translation workflow. But, bear with me please.

By automating your workflow, you reduce the administrative burden on your team and free them up to work on other tasks.

Can automation really make that much of a difference?

Automating your translation workflow can deliver time savings

The short answer to this is yes, and the long answer is yes, it definitely can.

A few years ago, we developed a new project management tool. We had found that our existing tool could no longer keep up with the increasingly complex projects from our customers. As part of this process, we incorporated certain aspects of customer and supplier invoicing into the tool. Although it is hard to quantify, we estimate that we saved approximately 20 hours each week by removing certain tasks from our team members.

We believe that similar, if not greater, time savings could be delivered by automating your translation workflow.

Which tasks can be automated?

At the risk of sounding trite, the world is your oyster when it comes to automated translation workflows.

An automated workflow takes repetitive tasks and applies the same actions in the same order. Using this logic, project set-up, file import, statistics generation, quality assurance checks and file export are all targets when you consider automating your translation workflow.

My projects are not standardised; can I still automate?

As a first point, it is worth adding that it is not all or nothing. It is perfectly possible to automate your translation workflow by only automating certain tasks. This can be useful in situations where you regularly translate into different languages, but always use the same statistics report.

Or perhaps you have a set of five core languages that you always translate into but on occasion, you translate your documents into twenty world languages. It is possible to create multiple processes when automating your translation workflow, so that you have two sets of automated workflows.

This same distinction also applies when you work with different file formats or have different terminology requirements for certain document types. At a glance, your projects may seem almost random, yet on closer inspection they follow a set of rules.

Here at STAR, we have experience with workflow automation tools, and we are happy to help you with guidance on automating your translation workflow. In fact, I would tentatively suggest that automating your translation workflow might be easier than you think.

We use multiple tools; can I still automate?

In 99% of cases, a project workflow is not created end-to-end in one go. Project workflows evolve slowly over time and adapt to the changing requirements of the business. This often leads to an interconnected web of software tools that make automating your translation workflow a daunting task.

It doesn’t need to be complicated. Many workflow automation tools on the market are designed to bridge the gap between software systems.

The arguments for automating your translation workflow should be even more compelling in this case. When using multiple tools, there are bound to be elements of crossover. Crossover of project information inevitably leads to duplication of tasks.

Automating your translation workflow can remove the element of human error

Automating your translation workflow can remove the element of human error

We know that everyone, even your best employee, can have an off day. By using a translation management system to automate your translation workflow, you can remove human error from the equation.

A translation management system (TMS) will not confuse the delivery date or times. It will not forget to change an important project setting. And it will always use the correct reference material and terminology lists. These are all elements that are programmed into the system as part of the work automating your translation workflow.

What other benefits are there to automating your translation workflow?

Every workflow tool on the market will offer different services and capabilities. For this reason, it is impossible to provide an exhaustive list of benefits to automating your translation workflow.

However, a commonly offered feature is an at-a-glance overview of orders, budgets and translator capacity. Most translation management systems offer an interlinked series of customer and supplier portals with customisable dashboards.

Once you have started to automise your translation workflow, these dashboards allow you to check on the status of an individual project and to review budgets and prices from within the same tool.

What does an automated translation workflow actually look like?

This is a difficult question to answer. In many ways, the best response is another question: What do YOU want it to look like?

The first step to automating your translation workflow is to audit your current process. Consider the different elements that go “into” the system, what happens to them during the process and which elements come “out” of the system. This will provide a basic overview of your workflow.

I can’t vouch for all the tools on the market, but I can comment on what the STAR Group tool can offer if you want to start automating your translation workflow. STAR CLM consists of a network of browser-based portals and task blocks that can be combined into a bespoke workflow automation tool.

Have I convinced you to start automating your translation workflow?

I’ll admit that I’m biased in this area. Of course I want you to automate your translation workflow. An automated translation workflow can deliver cost and time savings.

Automate your translation workflow to deliver cost savings

By automating your translation workflow, you ensure that translation is no longer a step in the process that you need to worry about. Your Marketing Manager can go back to creating engaging copy. Your Technical Writer can focus on writing clear documentation.

In short, when you automate your translation workflow, your team can play to their strengths.

Author: Bethanie Melly, Senior Project Manager