If you’re seeking out Smartling alternatives, chances are you’re trying to refocus your localization project holistically. You want to go beyond merely string translation to find something that’s going to support your business in more of an end-to-end way.
You don’t just want reliable translation results. You want results that directly improve your bottom line.
That’s not to say Smartling is a poor choice. It’s a well-designed, cloud-based program that offers a lot of intuitive features. When it comes to translation management, it’s an industry leader. However, when you break down its components, there are instances where Smartling alternatives may be a better choice.
Smartling Pros and Cons
Smartling was initially developed as an app and web string translator. Those roots remain, and that’s where most of the features and improvements are focused. Here are a few Smartling pros and cons to consider:
Pros of Smartling:
- Translation memory: All jobs are saved to allow the company to build a database of commonly used phrases and recommendations and incorporate them into an intelligent translation memory (TM). Smartling also supports corporate glossaries and lexicons to feed into the TM and improve it.
- TM-driven workflow recommendations: The TM is used to guide linguists as they complete strings of content, which improves quality and creates consistency.
- Automatic translation routing: Projects are assigned automatically, saving managers time on vetting and selecting linguists for projects.
- Integrations: Smartling shines when it comes to integrations. They offer connectors for major CMS tools like Drupal, Site Core, and Adobe CQ, among others. They also offer assistance for standard marketing programs and support for hosted exchange folders like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.
Cons of Smartling:
- String-focused: Strings are only part of the picture in translation projects. You also need to be able to understand context based around those strings. Smartling was designed for strings, and the platform continues to support that as a primary focus.
- Simul-work support: Smartling does not support simultaneous work on a project, which is a challenge as so much must be completed collaboratively in a translation project—especially when it comes to QA processes.
- Terminology management: Terminology fields in Smartling are predefined. This may appear, at first glance, to allow for thorough management. However, it’s that structure that restricts flexibility and prevents the implementation of a truly intuitive system.
- Varying translator quality: While translation assignments are automatic, quality could vary as it’s based on a “first available” algorithm. Some content may not meet the same standards as others due to varying translator quality.
- Limited API access: API access with a command-line interface (CLI) is available only at certain price tiers in Smartling’s program and not as a base feature.
- Price: Smartling is one of the more expensive options for translation management, making it suitable for only mid- and large-sized enterprises.
Many of the weaknesses with Smartling are standard across all translation management system (TMS) types. The brunt of the program focuses on strings and translations. This strategy may be fine for simple website or app conversions. It falls flat when picked up by professional language managers who want to take full advantage of critical linguistic assets for ultimate long-range success. For that, it’s vital to look at Smartling alternatives that pick up where this program leaves off.
Assessing Smartling Alternatives
What people want when managing localization projects is a clear beginning and end. It’s not just about the content. It’s about the workflow and the project quality itself. If you’re looking for Smartling alternatives, then you need to seek out features the program doesn’t offer, including:
- Intuitive translation memory: An intuitive TM is one that builds on itself, so you’re essentially creating a machine translation program specific to your company. You need the ability to approve or deny terms before they become part of an official database, link them together in semantic groups, and leverage Levenshtein edit distance to slice quality data into your projects.
- Granular reporting: You should be able to use your past translation work to guide your future localization decisions. While Smartling offers reporting options, getting down to a granular level isn’t as easy. You need to be able to look at this information on a very detailed basis to make business decisions. You want to be able to compare, for example, the cost of a Spanish translation for a technical manual compared to the traffic you see from users downloading it, viewing it, and sending support tickets.
- AI assignments: Automatic linguistic assignments are a great tool, but they may not be as useful if you receive translators who aren’t familiar with your brand or don’t mesh with your company culture. AI can act as your recruiting arm by reviewing the quality data of translators, their expertise, your company’s history with them, and other key indicators of a successful relationship. Then, this AI pairs that translator with jobs where they are most likely to succeed, ensuring you get a quality linguist every time.
- QA Support: One area where Smartling doesn’t work is in the ability to integrate third-party quality management tools. This lack of collaboration is a significant hindrance in a localization project, so it’s vital to seek out a company that can support these programs and processes.
- Long-tail workflow support: Some projects will be long term. Some may have no definite end date. You’ll need a localization management platform that can work with all long-term programs. While Smartling offers this, it’s at a higher price tier than its standard service.
- API access: This is another feature that Smartling offers—at an additional cost. API access with a CLI is a vital part of translation project management and should come as a standard part of the package.
Bureau Works offers all these additional features, making it an ideal Smartling alternative. Our platform’s improvements aren’t string focused. They tackle localization as a whole, rather than merely focusing on the translation component. Anyone who has managed a translation project of any complexity knows that an end-to-end solution is vital in maintaining not just the quality of translation, but also the overall ROI. If you want to take a total approach to translation content management, Bureau Works is a viable alternative to just about any platform on the market.
September 1, 2020