An approach to risk management in the language industry (part 1 of 5) Reply

Enrique_CavalittoAs a Project Management Professional (PMP)®  and in my years working as project manager in the services industry I learned to use risk management as a key tool to prepare for the unexpected.

Ten years ago I joined ProZ.com’s team of site staff and discovered the enormous professionalism shared by many translation freelancers and companies. However, I am under the impression that a systematic approach to risk management is not widespread in the language industry and I assembled some notes to help bridge that gap. 

The following is the first post in a five-part series from an article I wrote on this subject for the June 2016 issue of MultiLingual magazine. It is reproduced here with their permission. 


Introduction

Scenario 1: A professional translator reports being scammed by a client. Known contact information on the client turns out to be false. Money is hopelessly lost.

Scenario 2: A translation company owner complains that a translator just recruited for a critical job failed to deliver, and as a result the agency lost a good client.

Scenario 3: A dispute between a translator and an agency arises after a project is delivered, when it is discovered that the payment method used by the agency is not available in the translator’s country of residence.

What do these situations have in common? One or more parties experienced losses and other inconveniences because the circumstances were different than expected, and the problems could have been prevented by asking just a couple of questions at the right time.

Welcome to risk management, the professional way of dealing with the uncertainties of the future!

This article will present some basic considerations on risk management, two internationally accepted frameworks and an overview of their application in the translation industry, followed by a possible practical approach and some examples.

Risk and risk management

Both in our ordinary lives and in our professional activities we make decisions based on assumptions (statements taken for granted) and predictions (statements about what will happen in the future). The filling of these cognitive gaps is done based on past experience, benchmarking, advice from others or the acceptance of other people’s statements.

In practice, many of these variables will not behave in line with our expectations. This can happen because randomness played against us, or we were deceived by our own wishes or by third parties, or maybe because we failed to consider possible deviations from the status quo, or we were simply wrong.

In a nutshell, our decisions involve a degree of uncertainty and, as the complexity of our processes and the number of decisions multiply, so do the possible negative impacts of uncertain events or conditions on our objectives, also known as risk.

Risks are characterized by their probability of occurrence and the possible impact of their consequences. Risks are always conditional and in the future. Once a negative condition occurs, it is no longer a risk but an issue.

Risk management is the process of handling these uncertainties in order to reduce their probability and/or impact, and it defines the difference between reactive firefighting and proactively managing projects and processes.

Risk management should be undertaken by all organizations, including the one-person companies otherwise known as freelancers. It requires commitment from the organization’s management, and a systematic approach must be pursued to develop consistent policies and practices.

We will present the widely accepted generic frameworks provided by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the ISO 31000 standard, followed by a discussion on their application in the language industry (and the organizations working in this ecosystem).

This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue of MultiLingual magazine. Reproduced with permission.

ProZ.com’s VI Brazilian conference in Curitiba: Video interview with keynote speaker Paula Ribeiro Reply

Paula Ribeiro, freelance language professional, mentor, trainer, conference organizer, and founder of the Portuguese Association of Translators and Interpreters (APTRAD), is one of many extraordinary speakers who will be presenting at ProZ.com’s upcoming regional event in Curitiba, Brazil, on September 24th and 25th.

In the interview below, the co-organizers for this event – Isabel Vidigal and Sheila Gomes – interview Paula on the impact of in-person conferences on the Portuguese translation community, and on the need for creating a bridge between the European and Brazilian language industries. The video is available entirely in Portuguese. Enjoy!


Join over 160 colleagues from 10 different countries who have already registered for this event by clicking the “Sign up now” button on the left side of the main conference page: http://www.proz.com/conference/686

To reserve your seat, just click on one of the “Buy now” buttons on that page, or make your payment in the local currency using the instructions available in the “Opção de pagamento em reais” section. Don’t delay! The regular pricing option will only be available for a few more weeks!

CAT tools and directory search in the translation center Reply

The translation center powered by ProZ.com and made available to ProZ.com Corporate members keeps evolving and growing. 

These are a few of the new features:


Payment settings

The company managing a particular instance of the translation center can use this settings page to define several elements related to payment to providers:

Preferred currency: The one used in the financial reports, and the default option for the purchase orders

Default payment terms: To predefine the payment terms to be presented to the service providers in your purchase orders, including:

  • Payment n days after invoice date
  • Set payment date when the purchase order is created
  • Other: will display “Other, see below” and a box with the custom conditions defined by you, ideal for companies with more complex payment terms
  • Pro-bono operation: a condition reserved for Translators without Borders or similar organizations

Payment conditions: to enter your payment conditions or other related information, to be shown to translators in each purchase order

Uses a CAT tool discount scheme: When this condition is selected, a table will open on the same page to let you define your discount categories and the corresponding % of full rate. Also, a new option “CAT tool settings” will be presented in the settings menu.

Purchase orders

Once a job has been defined, you will be able to create a detailed purchase order associated with each task before the job is shared with your translators.

Many of the payment conditions can be predefined for all tasks in the payment settings.

In the form provided for editing the PO, you will be able to define:

  • Units: Source words, CAT analysis, Target words, Source lines, Target lines, Pages, Hours, Minutes or Total
  • Volume: expressed in the units defined above. When the system manages to determine a word count, it will be displayed here if the unit selected is in source words.
  • Rate: presented in the default currency defined in the payment settings, but other currencies are available
  • Payment terms: in accordance with the values established in the payment settings
  • Payment conditions: the value defined in the payment settings, but this can be edited for each PO
  • Custom PO#: A field to manually enter the number assigned by your system to the PO. If left empty, the translation center will enter a unique identifier to identify any particular PO.

Combine preset and local information in your purchase order

CAT tool analysis

As indicated for the payment settings, it is now possible for a company to define their CAT tool discount scheme,  including the name of each category and the corresponding % of full rate.

The CAT tools settings provide a very simple way to map the discount categories used by your company with the different categories used by the CAT tools integrated in the platform.

This information can be used to define the volume of work to be done. This can be done in two ways in the purchase order:

  • Manual input: When this mode is selected, you can manually enter the number of words associated with each discount category
  • Analysis import: The translation center can now import an SDL Trados analysis (in xml format) and development is under way to import Wordfast and MemoQ information as well

Once the CAT tool analysis information has been manually entered or automatically imported into the purchase order, it will look like this:

PO_with_CAT_info

A comprehensive Purchase Order form that can include CAT tool analysis

Directory search

It is now possible to invite one or several translators in a single action by using the new Providers → Find providers at ProZ.com feature.

This new feature will let you define your search criteria including:

  • Source and target languages
  • Whether the candidates should be native speakers of the target language
  • Language service required (such as translation, but all options provided at ProZ.com are included)
  • General and specific discipline
  • Minimum years of experience
  • Country of residence
  • Software
  • Whether participation in ProZ.com Certified PRO Network (CPN) is required
  • Minimum positive feedback entries (WWA)

Once you submit this request, a set of results will be provided including, for each candidate, information such as username, picture, tagline, country of residence, native language, local time, number of WWA entries and PRO KudoZ points in the pair and field of expertise requested.

You will be able to select one, many or all of these providers and send them an invitation to your instance of the translation center, including a personalized message to be written by you.

Translators who accept this invitation will be directly incorporated into your instance of the translation center.


If you are a ProZ.com corporate member, or consider becoming one, and want to learn more about the translation center powered by ProZ.com, please contact me via email or submit a support request.

What are translators working on? New ProZ.com feature Reply

ProZ.com has just released a new “What I am working on” feature designed to enable translators to share with colleagues descriptions of the projects they are currently working on. More…

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A landscape of proofreading with Kelli Semolini and Giovana Boselli Reply

Wondering what to expect at ProZ.com’s VI Brazilian conference in Curitiba this September? Check out this video interview featuring event co-organizer Sheila Gomes and conference speakers Kelli Semolini and Giovana Boselli about their joint session: “Panorama da revisão” or “A landscape of proofreading“.

In the interview, Kelli and Giovana shared stories and answered questions about their experiences as proofreaders and editors. The interview is entirely in Portuguese. Enjoy!

Everyone has to start somewhere. What about you? Reply

As they say, everyone has to start somewhere. And, with ProZ.com’s 2016 international conference just over a month away, I was curious to know how exactly the event speakers got started in their careers as professional translators and interpreters. Here’s what I found out:


Tanya Quintieri
Country: Czech Republic
Session: The Outsourcing Freelancer: Outsourcing in the context of workload & CRM (Client Relationship Management)
Outsourcing freelancer at The Translators, President of the DVÜD e. V., organizer of events for translators and interpreters. Certified translator (CoC) for German and English, specialized in marketing and transcreation. Mentor and mentee, blogger and digital native.

“How I got started in translation? I was in school for business administration and worked at a restaurant 5 nights a weeks to keep the money coming in. I had two small children at the time and I was hardly at home. I came across an ad one day in a local newspaper: An IT company was looking for a freelance translator for German into English. I had no idea about the translation business, but I figured I would give it a shot, after all, I was raised bilingual, and this seemed like a good opportunity to make more money with less work, from the comfort of my home. Little did I know back then that this does not automatically make you a good translator. This was back in 2002. Ever since, I have come a long way. It took me about 7 years to understand what translation is, what it needs to be professional, how to deal with translation buyers… Today, I head an association for freelance translators, I have some pretty cool clients in my client base, I no longer work 12+ hours a day nor 7 days a week, and I outsource quite a lot. But the best thing is, I still work with that very first client from back then.”

3099d458a25cea759387f1ced54cd0a5_judypetersonJudy Peterson
Country: Sweden
Session: Are you ready to edit? – Typical problems fixed by professional editors
Since 1984, Judy Petersen has been (1) writing, editing, indexing, translating, and planning publications; (2) managing publication projects; and (3) training writers, editors, and translators.

“I started my business while on maternity leave from IBM where I had worked as a technical writer, editor, and production manager. My plan was to become a highly paid freelance copywriter and editor for a handful of international ad agencies. Instead, they kept sending me stuff that needed translation. One client even told me that he wanted “sexy” – and not direct translation. So that’s what I delivered – and still deliver.”

1639697_r56cebb0698fa5Robin Joensuu
Country: Germany
Session: The art of giving and receiving substantial feedback
Robin Joensuu is an English into Swedish translator mainly working in the fields of IT, telecom, marketing, and engineering. He holds a Master of Arts in Literature, Culture and Media (Lund University), and has studied various additional university courses in different ways related to his line of work.

“You could say I got started in translation by chance. I had just received my MA degree in literature when I met my girlfriend and left Sweden for Berlin, Germany to be with her, planning to find a job as a bartender or as a hostel cleaner. Soon after my arrival, a friend of mine told me that what I now know is one of the worst and most notorious bottom feeder agencies were looking for English into Swedish translators. Since I had studied English, Swedish, and creative writing at the university, I applied and got accepted.

I knew absolutely nothing about the ‘translation industry’ and I was constantly looking for alternatives, because my work conditions were awful. I had no idea that you could make real money from translation and I constantly felt like I was fumbling around in the dark. But after a while of hard work I got over the threshold to the mid-market segment, I realized I was pretty good at my job, and things started working out really well. I have never looked back since and I have no intention of changing profession. This is the best job in the world.”

805aacd319440ad103fc09c77a0bf992_Erin_LyonsErin Lyons
Country: United States/Sweden
Erin M. Lyons is a French and Italian to English translator, medical writer and consultant, business owner, and an Adjunct Professor of Translation at the University of Maryland. Having recently moved to Stockholm, Erin is the local organizer of ProZ.com’s 2016 international conference.

“Right out of university, I started teaching English in Rome. I was assigned to teach English at a company to the marketing executives and when they discovered that I was multilingual, they asked me to try out some translations for them. I had no experience in translation, but really enjoyed the challenge and research. After spending a few years translating at the company, I went back to university to do my Master’s in Translation and have never looked back.”


How did you get started as a translator? Was it something you planned, or was it a career that you fell into? Share your “getting started” story in the comments section below or in this thread on the event’s Facebook page.

There’s still time to register to attend ProZ.com’s 2016 international conference on September 3rd and 4th in Stockholm, Sweden. Reserve your seat today at: http://www.proz.com/conference/683

And don’t forget to watch Erin’s video invitation to the conference here:

This September, all roads lead to Curitiba! Reply

Today’s guest post author is Sheila Gomes – a freelance translator with over 20 years of experience who currently specializes in software localization and video games. Sheila is the manager of Multitude – an online information portal for translators and interpreters, and is one of the founding members and organizers of  TICWB – a networking group for local industry professionals.

Along with fellow freelance language professional and industry contributor Isabel Vidigal, Sheila is the co-organizer of this year’s ProZ.com regional conference in Brazil, which will take place this September from the 23rd to the 25th in the city of Curitiba. She shares her post today in Portuguese.


Minha primeira conferência de tradutores e intérpretes foi no Rio de Janeiro, em novembro de 2011: a III Conferência Brasileira de Tradutores do ProZ.com. Como foi a edição com o maior número de participantes até então, imagine o assombro da pessoa perdida entre mais de 300 colegas, com dezenas de apresentações e outras atividades para participar. Acabou virando a primeira de uma série: o bichinho dos eventos T&I tinha me mordido e hoje vou a todos que posso. Até chegar ao ponto de organizar em conjunto com a Isabel Vidigal o nosso evento do ProZ.com. A Isabel é veterana de eventos, já organizou inclusive a primeira Conferência do ProZ.com no Brasil, junto com a Rosana Malerba, em agosto de 2009. E agora o evento vem pra Curitiba, num dos poucos casos de saída do eixo Rio-São Paulo. Nesta minha cidade do coração, que acabou virando um polo de referência para tradutores e intérpretes por causa do trabalho ativo que temos aqui com iniciantes e veteranos, em vários projetos e ações. Estamos ansiosos e com vários planos para receber os colegas!

Assim como é para muita gente, o ProZ.com foi meu primeiro passo para conseguir clientes internacionais e fez uma grande diferença na minha carreira. Claro, é um grande recurso, mas funciona de verdade quando fazemos nossa parte, depois de estarmos preparados, de ter pesquisado o mercado e aprimorado as qualificações profissionais. O próprio site oferece uma série de ferramentas para isso, e tentei aproveitá-lo o máximo possível para aprender e também contribuir. Assim também é com a VI Conferência Brasileira do ProZ.com, que estamos organizando aqui em Curitiba entre os dias 23 e 25 de setembro: tentamos devolver um pouco do que conseguimos por meio do portal e oferecer outras oportunidades de fazer networking, receber treinamento, estabelecer discussões e momentos de socialização, para tradutores e intérpretes, iniciantes ou veteranos, e outros interessados na área.

Creio que uma das ações mais eficazes para mudar o mercado é dar acesso a iniciativas educacionais aos profissionais em formação e outras pessoas interessadas em ingressar nessa nossa área tão rica, mas também ainda pouco conhecida do grande público. É por isso que o desenvolvimento profissional inspira o tema do evento, “Boas práticas e caminhos”. Além de palestras e mesas-redondas, o evento oferecerá atendimento especializado individual ou em pares, na forma de miniconsultorias, para profissionais já atuantes e estudantes que buscam informações para se profissionalizar. E como a descontração é importante para estimular a integração dos pares, além do próprio evento, teremos encontros informais e passeios culturais.

Aliás, Curitiba é ideal para encontros assim, especialmente para tradutores e intérpretes, pois o que mais temos por aqui é: café! Espaços simpáticos, pitorescos, convidativos a cada esquina, dos maiores e festivos aos menores e aconchegantes, não faltam lugares para todos os tipos de grupos ou apenas para um bom papo entre duas ou três pessoas. E para quem vem, mas já sabe que pode ter que trabalhar também, praticamente todos os espaços oferecem wifi, além de alguns outros espaços de acesso gratuito como a biblioteca pública (a uma quadra do local do evento) ou algumas praças. Isso sem contar restaurantes, bares, espaços culturais e outros eventos para conhecer e investir no networking até fora do evento.

É por essas e muitas outras que esperamos você aqui: em setembro, todos os caminhos levam a Curitiba!


Meet Sheila and all of the excellent speakers who will be present at this conference – like keynote speakers Marta Stelmaszak and Paula Ribeiro – by registering today on the main event page: http://www.proz.com/conference/686

Registration fees can now be paid in the local currency! The early bird price has been extended so those who are interested in paying in reais at this discounted price may do so. Don’t delay! Prices increase in just a few short days, on July 23rd. More information about paying locally can be found on the event page under the “Opção de pagamento em reais” heading.  

Want to learn more about what to expect at this conference? Program highlights are featured in this short video: