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

This last part of an article first published in the June 2016 issue of the MultiLingual magazine, presents some practical examples of the application of risk management policies in the language industry. 


Some practical examples

A few concrete cases are included here as example of risks to be found, as well as their possible remedies. Non-linguistic examples have been selected, as experience shows that people in the language industry tend to overemphasize the linguistic aspects of life.

Area: Commercial / marketing

Risk: A new client request comes from a scammer

Remedy: Scams are a typical case for avoidance. Check the fraud-prevention information available at http://www.proz.com for a comprehensive coverage, but in a nutshell you should possess a general knowledge on how scammers work, always request verifiable contact information from any possible client or provider, and take steps to verify those details yourself.

Area: Commercial / marketing

Risk: A key client goes bankrupt, damaging your business

Remedy: To reduce the probability, keep an eye on signs of impending problems within the customer (comments from the client, news, social media comments) or lack of client satisfaction (client wants some service you do not provide, comments about your service, quality or prices). To reduce the impact, no single client should represent more than 25% of your work.

Area: Commercial / marketing

Risk: “Feast or famine” market fluctuations can severely affect normal operation

Remedy: Keep money reserves or a line of credit for dry periods. Develop a network of trusted providers to outsource extraordinary peaks of demand. Consider collaborating with colleagues (if you can turn a competitor into an ally, they may also share with you their own overflows).

Area: Infrastructure / technology

Risk: Catastrophic infrastructure failure affecting work and deliveries

Remedy: Create redundancy in your infrastructure. Contact an additional internet provider. Keep an active policy of information backups. Define, in advance, contingency procedures and train your people to follow them.

Area: Infrastructure / technology

Risk: Hostile hacker steals confidential information belonging to your organization or your clients

Remedy: Hire a consultant to devise the technological and procedural tools needed to ensure information security. Train your staff in the corresponding procedures and monitor them.

Area: Project management

Risk: Some critical requirement from the client was not recorded in the scope definition of a project, resulting in low customer satisfaction, rework and negative impact on the time and cost objectives.

Remedy: Scope management is your responsibility. Even if the client failed to communicate a project parameter, you (the language service professional) should have asked about it. Develop a checklist with the elements to consider in all projects (tool requirements, CAT tool analysis, input and output formats, language register, expected audience, requirements for partial deliveries, cultural considerations, etc.)

Area: Project management

Risk: Provider fails to deliver

Remedy: Rely on trusted translators. Keep a strong vendor management policy. Maintain good communication channels with them in order to detect problems as soon as possible. Provide and request feedback. Have backup providers to activate them if the designated one drops from the project.

Conclusions

Risk management is the tool to proactively manage the uncertain nature of life and work, and it should be part of the toolbox of any organization (including unipersonal ones). Consider the simple approach suggested in this note or deliver your own. Risk awareness and preparation, sensible processes and a focus on learning lessons from errors and problems should be part of any definition of professionalism.

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

The translation center powered by ProZ.com offers new features to ProZ.com Business members Reply

New features and tools have been added to the translation center powered by ProZ.com and made available to ProZ.com Business members


Improved reference information

Several new features have been added to improve the availability of reference information available to the service providers assigned to any given job. Among them:

Projects

Projects can now be defined for any given client, and they can include one or more work orders. Among the information in a project you have a field for project instructions, and these instructions will be displayed in all jobs associated with the project. This is a very cost-effective way of conveying your reference information. A project can also be used, for instance, to coordinate the several interpreting and translating activities associated with an event.

Reference files

Reference files can be added when a work order is created, or to an already created job. These files used to be located in a separate tab on the job page, and they have been now to the main job page for improved visibility.

Client files

Client files are files that can be associated with any of your clients, and they will be offered as reference files on the main page of every job created on behalf of that client. A category (glossary, reference, style, TM or other) can be associated with each file.

Improved communication features

New interaction and messaging features

It is now possible for a company to decide if the service providers sharing a job will be able to see each other and interact among themselves. Also, managers can post in any job messages addressed to a particular provider in the job, or to all providers in the job, or only to other administrators. Administrators can also view all comments or only the comments visible by any given translator in the job.

New options for sending emails to providers

The list of providers that can be reached by selecting “Providers → View providers” has several search criteria for defining a subset of translators, and at the bottom of the page there are buttons for sending emails to the translators in the whole search (in particular, to all translators in your system) or only to those in the page in front of you. It is now possible to attach a file to these mails, and to select the particular translators you want to reach within the selection.

 Improved vendor management features

Simplified experience for providers

The translation center as seen by service providers was greatly simplified, eliminating all elements that were not needed for their role of accepting an assignment, getting information and delivering their service. This will facilitate adding extra features and information and move into mobile operation.

You can now leave feedback on providers

Two new job settings will make it possible for your PMs to leave feedback on the providers in your system for each delivered task. You can also decide if this information will be visible only for your administrators, or to share it also with the providers. Posted feedback can range from unacceptable to excellent, and a comment can be also entered. This information is stored for each translator, and it is a very useful tool for documenting the experience a company has with a given translator, especially in multi-PM companies. You can read more about this feature in a dedicated article.

Multiple language pairs in invitations to providers

If you invite translators to the translation center by email, using the options available at “Providers → Invite via email”, you can now select several language pairs associated with each translator. If you prefer to use the directory features to be found at “Providers → Invite from ProZ.com”, once you select the translators to invite the system will offer you for each provider the language pairs they declare at their ProZ.com profile, and you will be able to select one, some or all the language pairs offered. In both cases, the provider profiles at the translation center will be created with the language pairs selected by you.


If you are a ProZ.com Business 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.

An approach to risk management in the language industry (part 3 of 5) Reply

This is the third post in a five-part series from an article first published in the June 2016 issue of MultiLingual magazine and reproduced here with their permission. 

The second part already published presented the the Project Management Institute (PMI) approach, while this deals with the generic framework provided by the ISO 31000 standard.  


The ISO 31000 approach

The standard ISO 31000 : 2009 ‘Risk management — Principles and guidelines’ was issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) with the purpose of providing “the principles and guidelines for managing any form of risk in a systematic, transparent and credible manner and within any scope and context. ” It is, therefore, not specific to any industry or sector.

This standard describes risk as the effect of uncertainty on objectives. Uncertainty is defined as a deficiency of information, understanding or knowledge of an event, its consequence, or likelihood.

Risk management includes the coordinated activities to direct and control an organization with regard to risk. It is based on a risk management framework, the purpose of which is to integrate the process for managing risk into the organization’s overall governance, strategy and planning, management, reporting processes, policies, values and culture.

The standard describes the relationship among:

  • a set of principles that need to be satisfied to make risk management effective,

  • the project management framework, and

  • the risk management processes displayed in figure 3 and defined below.

ISO 31000 processes

Communication and consultation with external and internal stakeholders should take place during all stages of risk management. They should address the risks, their causes and consequences, and the measures taken to treat them. Stakeholders make judgements based on their perceptions of risk.

Establishing the context enables the organization to articulate its objectives, risk management parameters and the scope and risk criteria for the remaining process. This is similar to the PMI’s plan risk management process.

Risk assessment is the overall process of risk identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation. Each one of these processes is described below:

Risk identification is very similar to the PMI’s Identify risks described above.

Risk analysis involves developing an understanding of the risk in order to provide an input to risk evaluation. It is similar to the PMI’s qualitative and quantitative analysis processes.

Risk evaluation aims to assist in making decisions based on the outcomes of risk analysis, defining which risks need treatment and the prioritization of treatment implementation.

Risk treatment involves selecting one or more options for modifying risks and implementing those options. It is similar to PMI’s plan risk responses process.

Monitoring and review is similar to PMI’s control risk process.

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

NEXT: READ PART FOUR >>

An approach to risk management in the language industry (part 2 of 5) 3

This is the second 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. 

The first part already published presented general definitions on the issue of risk, while this and the next deal with the generic frameworks provided by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the ISO 31000 standard .  


The Project Management Institute’s approach

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is, in its own words, “the world’s largest not-for-profit membership association for the project management profession, with more than 700,000 members, credential holders and volunteers in nearly every country in the world”.

PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) is widely recognized in the project management profession. It provides guidelines, best practices and a comprehensive methodology based on five process groups: (1) initiating, (2) planning, (3) executing, (4) monitoring and controlling and (5) closing.

These processes are further grouped into ten separate Knowledge Areas, defined as a set of concepts, terms and activities that make up a professional field, project management field or area of specialization.

Since project risk management is one of these ten areas, any implementation based on the PMBOK® Guide should take into account the whole picture, although that greatly exceeds the scope of this note.

The PMI identifies the six high-level risk management processes presented in the figure 1, where the first 5 belong to the planning group and the last one is a monitoring and controlling process.

PMI risk processes

Note that the processes are represented as a flow, from first to last, due to the fact that projects always have a beginning and an end. The more generic ISO 31000, in contrast, has a “closed loop” topology typically associated with processes.

Plan Risk Management is the process of defining how to conduct risk management activities for a project, including methodology, roles, criteria for prioritizing risks and communication policies. Its output is a project risk management plan. This process ensures that risk management efforts are commensurable with both the risks and the importance of the project to the organization.

Identify Risks is the process of determining which risks may affect the project and documenting their characteristics, thus providing the knowledge and the ability needed to anticipate events. This is an iterative process, as the risk information may evolve during the project. Its main output is the initial entry into the risk register, a document that will also receive the results of risk analysis and risk response planning.

Qualitative Risk Analysis is the process of prioritizing risks for further analysis or action by assessing and combining their probability of occurrence and impact, usually in a matrix as the one presented in Fig. 2. This helps identify the risks that should be actively managed, and it is usually a quick and cost-effective means for the planning of risk responses.

Probability and impact matrix

Quantitative Risk Analysis is the process of numerically analyzing the effect of identified risks on overall project objectives. Tools may include sensitivity analysis, expected monetary value (EMV) analysis, modeling and simulation. It may not be cost- or time-effective in small projects, where the qualitative analysis may be enough.

Plan Risk Responses is the process of developing options and actions to enhance opportunities and to reduce threads to project objectives. The PMBOK® Guide identifies four strategies for responding to threats:

  • Avoid: to eliminate the threat or protect the project from its impact usually by modifying the project plan to eliminate the threat entirely, isolating the objectives from the risk impact or changing the compromised objectives.

  • Transfer: to shift the impact of a thread to a third party, together with ownership of the response. Classic examples are insurance and outsourcing.

  • Mitigate: to reduce the probability of occurrence or impact of the risk, for example by adopting simpler processes, conducting more tests or by choosing more reliable suppliers.

  • Accept: to acknowledge the risk without taking any action unless it occurs. It can involve the establishment of a contingency reserve (time, money or resources) to handle the risk.

Control Risks is the process of implementing risk response plans, tracking identified risks and identifying new ones, monitoring residual risks and evaluating risk process effectiveness.

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

NEXT: READ PART THREE >>

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

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.

NEXT: READ PART TWO >>

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.