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.

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.

Do your employees have the right profiles for your work on ProZ.com? Reply

Logo_corporate_membership

ProZ.com Corporate members enjoy all the benefits granted to freelance professional members, plus several other exclusive tools and opportunities. The prestige associated with the corporate badge and the positioning and visibility of Corporate members in the ProZ.com Translation agency and company directory are obvious advantages. This post will deal with other, lesser-known benefits.

Employee profiles: Corporate members may designate other profiles as belonging to their employees. These employee profiles will have member benefits without the need to purchase separate memberships themselves. For instance, they have full access to the Blue Board and can quote on member-only jobs (provided that the other requirements are met).

Search by email feature:  An exclusive tool enables ProZ.com Corporate members to enter an email address (received, for instance, in an application page or email message) and to search for the matching ProZ.com profile. This is an additional risk management tool to face the threat of scammers who impersonate translators to scam translation companies.

Search_email

Job posting notifications: Corporate members now have the option to receive notifications based on the fields declared in their company profiles. Company profiles are not bound by requirements that only make sense when the service provider is just one person, such as “Native language”. With this tool, Corporate members can choose to be notified of all the job postings that they can submit a quote on. This is done by comparing the requirements in the job posting with the working languages they have declared that their company provides services in.

Classic_notificacions_corporates

Use of the ProZ.com translation center:  Corporate members can use a dedicated instance of the translation center powered by ProZ.com to manage their projects. Several Corporate members are actively using this platform, and they delivered a cumulative total of over 2.5 million words in May 2016 alone. The platform is actively evolving. User interfaces have been improved and the next releases will include the import of CAT tools analysis and new vendor management tools.

This Corporate Corner is a section of the blog dedicated to conveying the voice of corporate members, to help them contribute to the growth and maturity of the language industry and to become better known in the process. If you are interested, please contact us by submitting a support request.

An investment in a ProZ.com Corporate membership provides value today – and well into the future. Let’s all grow together!

From the corporate corner: New benefits for Corporate members Reply

The corporate badge

Translation companies are an essential segment of the industry, and one key objective of ProZ.com is to better understand their needs and to provide them with tools, opportunities and resources which will help them achieve their objectives.

And of course this also means providing better opportunities for good translators and good companies to meet for their common benefit.

In line with this goal, ProZ.com Corporate members enjoy all the benefits associated with the site’s professional membership package, such as unlimited Blue Board access, plus several other tools and opportunities available exclusively to Corporate members, such as:

  • Increased visibility through privileged positioning in the Translation agency and company directory, the industry’s busiest directory for finding language service providers
  • Full access to both the traditional and advanced directories for finding service providers and collaborators, including premium job posts and vendor management tools
  • A corporate membership badge for added credibility among service providers and clients
  • Access to a dedicated instance of the translation center to manage translation projects, assign tasks and keep all communication and data in a single platform
  • Only Corporate members may apply for inclusion in the ProZ.com Certified PRO Network, giving them increased credibility, visiblity and promotion
  • The ability to extend the Corporate membership benefits and access to employee accounts
  • Immediate job posting (no vetting required)
  • Risk management through exclusive access to a scam prevention tool that allows them to verify the contact email address of potential service providers
  • In the event of feedback or payment disputes on the Blue Board, Corporate members have the ability to work closely with ProZ.com support staff in resolving issues quickly
  • Priority response to support requests, including phone support

The ProZ.com team is currently working on new Corporate-only features such as Classic jobs notifications, a mechanism for corporate members to report feedback on non-delivery by translators, and improved features for employee accounts.

Further down the road we plan to provide better risk management tools – especially for fraud prevention – as well as advanced vendor management features for recruiting, qualifying and managing service providers.

Several channels are used to learn about the needs of translation companies, including through the site’s support center. A survey is also being conducted in order for ProZ.com to better assess the needs of translation companies and learn how it can add value to Corporate membership. If you have not yet participated in this survey, please taking a few minutes to share your concerns and feedback.

Last but not least, I would like to open acorporate corner in this blog, and extend an invitation to all ProZ.com Corporate members to share their views on industry-related issues through a series of guest blog posts. If you are interested in contributing to this initiative, please reply in the comments section below.

Let’s all grow together!

The ProZ.com Translation Center Platform: LSPs beginning to sign on Reply

A humanitarian tool evolved to manage commercial work

On May 21 it was announced that the platform developed for Translators without Borders was made available to ProZ.com corporate members. This note will describe briefly the road traveled since then, and another one, to be released in the next few days, will focus on the path ahead.

Several translation companies have adopted it for the management of their translation operation and they have posted a total of almost half a million words during November and almost as much during the first two weeks of December.

The corporate members using the translation center for the management of their operation are the ones guiding the evolution of the platform by means of their requests, suggestions and patterns of use. To them goes our gratitude.

Logo Traduality

“The ProZ.com Translation Center has helped us a lot in avoiding long e-mail conversations. We can now have all project information such as delivery deadlines, instructions, source documents, support documents, and even follow-up commentaries in the same place. This has proven to be very helpful for our outsourced and in-house translators.” – Diego Achío, Traduality Language Solutions

Managing clients and project managers

Since in the TWB operation most jobs are created by administrators and the clients themselves (the humanitarian organizations), adapting to the commercial operation required a significant redesign of the project manager and client roles.

PMs don’t have the universal access enjoyed by administrators, but they can create work orders and access and manage the work orders and jobs they create. They can also be invited to jobs created by other PMs or administrators.

The companies managing instances of the translation center have ample control of their operation. In particular, clients are usually excluded from commercial instances (you can even prevent translators from knowing the client name), but you can optionally give some client representatives limited access to the platform, to oversee work order status and download files without getting any access to translators.

 

Logo OneDocument“We have been working with our own customized Translation Center for about 2 months now and the experience could not be better! Now we have our own marketplace from which we can manage our translators, allocate our projects and get full control of the deliverables, with 100% traceabilty. It has streamlined our processes and our translators and PMs are all excited about the features the tool is packed with.”  – Miguel Ángel Reyes Riera, Managing Director, OneDocument, S.L

Managing of translators

You can now organize your translators in teams, creating as many teams as you want, and assign members of your pool to act as translators and/or job managers in the team. You can also manually assign each task to a member of the selected team.

You can associate every job with all eligible translators (for instance all translators in the appropriate language pair) or with the members of a team. You can also add more translators on the “manage invitations” page by typing their names or email addresses.

If you decide to invite translators to evaluate and accept your tasks, you can modify the order of the notifications (by dragging and dropping the names), the number of invitations that will be sent in each batch and the time interval between invitation batches, as

You can also label as junior some translators, who will not be automatically included in the pool to be invited to jobs.This makes it possible to have non-preferred translators who may be useful if none of your primary translators are available. It is also possible to keep new translators in this level and have their work reviewed by senior ones, until the point when you trust them enough to move them to the senior level.

 

Logo Betaplan

 “We are very pleased with the implementation of the Workspace platform, including support and suggestions for improvement. It certainly has helped us to better control the actions and communication with our team of linguists in our routine activities to better meet the expectation of our customers.”  – Alberto Cury, Betaplan Translation Owner

 

Managing the work

It is now possible to select among a variety of task typed for each task of your jobs, such as translation, review, editing, post-editing and QA. Multistage (translation, editing, QA) jobs into several target languages is also supported.

It is also possible so select both source and target languages not currently supported by translators in the system, and then invite service providers working in these language pairs.

Flexibility was also provided for the management of files, enabling the upload of files or the instructions for reaching files in another platform, both for source, target and reference files. This lets you create and assign a project while waiting for the final source files as well as respect client restrictions regarding the management of their files, and it is also appropriate for creating a work order from a mobile device with bandwidth or file handling limitations.

The translation center includes some financial tools to assist companies to keep track of purchase orders, invoices and payments in a way that is integrated with the projects managed through the site

When an instance of the translation center is created for your company, you can personalize it by uploading your company’s logo and name, as well as the support email address. You can also customize the format of the order numbers entered for your work order.

At the bottom of all translation center pages you will find a couple of links about Privacy and Security respectively. Click on any of them to learn more about these issues and contact ProZ.com if you need additional information.

 

 “Since starting my translatLogo TransParsion business “Transpars”, I have always been looking for a qualified developer to develop a fully-automated website for my translation agency. And now I see the Proz guys have made all I need. With this awesome Translation Center, all you need is just a translation project and a database of translators.”  – Mostafa Dehqan, CEO & Founder of TransPars Translation Services

 

To learn more and get access

A landing page including videos has been released with the purpose of explaining it operation to potential users, including outsourcers and translators. Also, a support page was created, including FAQs and detailed operational procedures.

If you routinely outsource translation work, we invite you to experiment with this platform, and to use it within your company if it suits your business. If after trying it out you find you have questions or feature requests, we would be happy to hear from you. To do so you can  contact me or send a support request

Platform developed for Translators without Borders now available to ProZ.com corporate members 12

After delivering over 25 million words, the translation center used by TWB is now being offered for use by ProZ.com corporate members in their own work

TWB translation center

“ProZ.com built and maintains the ‘translation center’ platform for the humanitarian organization Translators without Borders.”

Created as a Humanitarian Tool, then Improved Organically

In the days following the Haiti earthquake of 2010, we at ProZ.com, together with many others in the industry, tried to help in any way we could. The Paris-based organization Translators without Borders had been overwhelmed by an unprecedented number of volunteers (many of them ProZ.com members). TwB requested that we create something to help them process applications. In response we built a screening tool, and it proved useful enough that TwB decided to standardize on it.

That screening center helped right away, but it began to be clear that the manual approach to project management that the organization had been using (i.e. email) was going to limit its ability to scale. We were asked (and inspired!) to do more to streamline operations. One-by-one, in response to requests from Translators without Borders, we added features that enabled them to automate all aspects of their processes: translator sourcing, client communications, and so on were improved.

Now, five years later, the platform that we built — what Translators without Borders calls their “Translation Center” — is somewhat mature. A single Translators without Borders project manager can now handle about ten times as much work as was possible before.

The “Translation Center” is Now Available for Use by ProZ.com Corporate Members

While the objectives of Translators without Borders may differ in some ways from those of translation companies, operational procedures may in some cases be quite similar. Basically, like TwB, a translation company receives work from clients, passes that work along to translators or translator teams, they do the job, and the work gets delivered. There is some form of quality control and ideally, feedback, and the various parties — clients, project managers and translators — are able to communicate as necessary and appropriate at each stage of the workflow.

Given that, it occurred to use that the translation center platform might be useful to others.

Since we built the translation center from scratch for Translators without Borders, and now we have it, we are able to allow others to use it. Given that it is fairly mature, we felt we would be able to do that without incurring a great deal of additional expense. We decided to make the platform available to corporate members of ProZ.com at no charge.

This translation center is not a comprehensive TMS system, but a tool that enables companies to efficiently route work to translators with whom they already have a relationship. One person described it as a “messaging bus”. It does a bit more than that (files can be moved, for example), but that is the basic idea. It has a nice interface and good communications features, project managers and translators, and optionally clients, can all be in one place, and all the information around a given job is centralized. The platform also integrates with ProZ.com profiles. And with the help of some beta testers, we have added some of the accounting features, etc., that companies require (but TwB never needed.)

This platform can save time and hassle for companies that are doing a lot of emailing back and forth with clients and translators. It can be even more useful for translation companies that put clients and translators into direct contact and communication. To describe more about it…

A “White Label” Design

A key concern in the design was that, even though the translation center was powered by ProZ.com, Translators without Borders is the real force behind the whole operation and the organization’s identity had to be carefully preserved.

To this end, a “white label” philosophy was followed in the design of the platform in such a way that all players or visitors to any instance of the translation center will see the name, logo and colors of the organization managing it, thus preserving their corporate image. White labeling means that the whole operation will be perceived by all actors as an integral part of the managing organization.

Management of Translators

The managing organization will invite their trusted translators to the translation center, where individual information can be stored on language pairs, fields of expertise, rates and any other data, in the form of administrative messages. Files can be attached to such messages (for example a signed NDA).

Messages can be exchanged with the translator through the platform, and they will be stored and associated with the translator’s profile, thus avoiding the hassle of sending and tracking emails.

The translation center can support the operation with in-house or freelance translators, or with a mixture of both categories.

Job posters can provide feedback to each task when a job is completed, entering a comment and selecting among the following options:

  • Excellent: Surpassed expectations
  • Good: In line with expectations
  • Satisfactory: Below expectations but usable
  • Unacceptable: Not usable

Average and detailed feedback for each translator is visible to the administrators, and a notification is sent to the support email each time a feedback is posted in any of the two lower levels above.

Work Orders and Jobs

The translation from one source into many target languages is supported by a work order / job / task structure, where

  • A work order (W.O.) is the common section, including source and reference files, deadline, field of expertise required, notes and special instructions, etc.
  • A job is the application of a work order to a defined target language, so a W.O. can include several jobs into different target languages.
  • A task is an individual file offered to the volunteers for translation. A job can include several tasks, both independently added by the client and as the result of the splitting by the PM of larger source files.

Jobs can be posted directly by clients, as is the case with Translators without Borders. This could be useful also for large agencies that need a way of effectively handling many small document that can’t be refused because they come from large clients, but that are processed at a loss because of the heavy overhead of their complex workflow.

An agency will most probably have their own PMs posting jobs on behalf of clients. Client identity and associated documents will still be present in the translation center, but the isolation between clients and translators will be preserved.

Basic Workflow

A project manager from the translation company will post a work order with at least one job. Reference files such as glossaries, translation memories or style guides can be added as reference to a job, or to all jobs of a given client.

Release of notifications to translators can be automatic, or manually handled by the PM. With automatic operation the notifications are sent out in batches, inviting translators to a job posting page, where they can evaluate the tasks offered and eventually accept one or more of them. The first notified translator who accepts a task will receive the assignment. Once all tasks have been accepted or manually assigned by the PM, a job is no longer available to other interested translators.

In a job page the translators with tasks assigned, the PM and the client (if given access to the page) will be able to communicate and to exchange files. All information stored in a single page, no need to send emails or keep track of files.

Translators will upload their translations to the same job page. Once all tasks in a job have been delivered, the job is complete and deliverables can be downloaded by the client or by a PM acting on their behalf.

Editing tasks can be added in the same page once the translations have been delivered, and they are assigned and delivered just like a translation task.

Automatic notifications are sent to the translator and the PM when a task is behind schedule. PMs are also notified when a task has not been accepted 48 hours after being offered to translators.

You are Kindly Invited to Try this Tool

If you routinely outsource translation work, we invite you to experiment with this platform, and to use it within your company if it suits your business. If after trying it out you find you have questions or feature requests, we would be happy to hear from you. You can contact me at enrique at proz dot com.

Translators without Borders: one million words posted so far in 2012 4

The humanitarian organizations operating with Translators without Borders posted for translation 282,918 words in April and a total of 1,005,281 words during the first 4 months of 2012. This represents a 52% increase with respect to the 663K words received during the first 4 month of 2011.

A heartfelt thank you to the worthy volunteers that make these achievements possible! Most volunteers belong to the ProZian community and some 40% of them are part of ProZ.com Certified PRO Network.