Best Practices

Old School Agency vs. Translation Platform

Let’s start by defining what is a translation agency as the translation platform is the digital evolution of the agency.
Gabriel Fairman
2 min

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Let’s start by defining what is a translation agency as the translation platform is the digital evolution of the agency.

A translation agency is an organization that takes in files in one language and delivers them in one or multiple translated languages.

Translation agencies are typically powered by tools and people. Most translation agencies have project managers and translators at their core, with project managers quoting, liaising with clients, and placing tasks with translators.

As agencies grow they become more staffed in all of the supporting areas including but not limited to account management, vendor management, quality management, solution architecture, tech, compliance, legal, and any other team that can add value to the overall mission to deliver high-quality translations.

As far as tools go, most translation agencies work with third-party tools. Their core tooling is comprised of a business management system such as Plunet or XTRF, and a translation management system such as Memsource, XTM, MemoQ, or Trados.

More tech-developed agencies will typically have their connectors as well that use available API endpoints to optimize system integrations and workflow. The business management software keeps track of customers, quotes, vendors, job placements, translator payables, invoicing, and other translation processes relevant components.

The TMS (Translation Management Systems) provide the CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) environment for their translators and project managers. The TMS will typically store the client-specific translation memories and term bases and provide translators with key productivity tools such as spell-check and QA verifiers.

So in a typical workflow, a translation agency will:

  1. Receive files from a client (either through their portal, file transfer systems or email).
  2. Have a project manager download, these files and upload them into their TMS
  3. Run analysis and import the analysis into the BMS (business management system)
  4. Import the analysis into the BMS
  5. Manually add the line items that need to be included in the quote (such as Project Management, or Desktop Publishing)
  6. Check the quote for integrity
  7. Download the quote
  8. Send the client the quote
  9. Wait from client approval
  10. Reach out to translators to check for availability
  11. Place the job with the translators
  12. Manage query management by filtering translator questions and relaying them to the client
  13. Wait for the translation to be complete and place job with reviewers
  14. Fill out amount payables to translators and reviewers provide them with a PO
  15. Send files for further processes such as desktop publishing, QA
  16. Wait for deliverables
  17. Check final assets
  18. Prepare delivery
  19. Deliver using file-transfer systems or email
  20. Manually confirm safe receipt
  21. Invoice
  22. Handle client feedback

This is SOP. It can become more granular and complex with greater detail and exception management. But the main point of concern for us regarding this process is that it’s:


With so many manual steps it’s only natural to forget to add a line item, to add one incorrectly, to forget a destination language, drop a file, etc…every single manual entry is an opportunity for error and we count dozens of manual entry contact points even in the simplest of projects. You can further enhance the process with more checks and controls to mitigate error but your process will become painfully slow to minimize error.


Time is lost with every manual step. So many steps require someone’s response or active engagement to move on to the next step. There is little to no real automation potential and the time gaps between each stage add up.

Requires a large overhead  

With so much manual work, Project Management has limited ability to deal with large workloads as they will become stressed, overworked, and make more mistakes when the workload peaks. This setup requires lots of people in different positions to ensure the necessary team elasticity and ability to handle the demand that scales up and down overnight.

Difficult to improve on

It’s very challenging to improve when you have a process that is based on manual steps. No matter how much you train people, add layers, and cross-check you still cannot deterministically address change at a root level. The root level is people and people are erratic by nature (not that we don’t believe in human goodness, but we are not the most consistent of species)

In our platform approach, we tried to simplify, automate and create a technological framework that ultimately does the same as an old-school translation agency: documents in, translated documents out. But we defend that our approach is a lot more predictable, cost-effective, and fast. How in the world do we claim to be better, smarter, and cheaper? Do read on… :)

This is the overview of our process

So right off the bat, we took a process that would take at least 22 different steps to complete a translation process and took it down to 6. That’s a 72% reduction in necessary steps. Each step that has been subtracted represents less room for error, greater process efficiency, and more opportunities to continuously improve the process.

So right now, we have shown that the process is ostensibly the same, but with fewer steps. But as you look a bit deeper, we will examine how the process is wildly different from a paradigmatic perspective.

How a Translation Platform works


Our translation platform decides based on parameters and algorithms. It doesn’t depend on people following instructions, receiving the right training, or getting the correct level of handholding. The platform just knows. And it’s not that it randomly knows because a software engineer decided it to be that way. It knows because we have been able to consolidate 17 years of successful agency experience and transform it into software through layers of analysis, architecture, and data science.


Our process is predictable. It’s not perfect. But it’s predictable. If we change a quoting parameter we can be 99.99% sure, that parameter will be followed.

Quoting is based on system detected values. Analysis against relevant translation memories, segmentation, and parting are all configured globally for any given client so that no two different projects require separate preparation.

Based on the file type and net word count (word count discounting repetitions, non-translatable sentences, and stored translation memory matches), Bureau Works can provide a quote instantly for over 22 file types. We are still unable to deliver this level of automation for complex multimedia files such as videos and e-Learning but our quoting automation covers more than 90% of the process.

Project Management

This is the beauty of exception-based project management. Rather than spending precious time and attention on things that don’t require time and attention, our platform enables our engineers to focus their time on the things that do require their attention such as complex eLearning projects, client onboarding, and initial customer profile configuration, data analysis and other activities that generate a far more relevant ROI both for us as the service provider and for you, our client.

There is no time lost between file submission and quote. This may not seem like much but we observe across the industry sometimes as much as 2 to 3 business days are lost in quoting back and forth between project management and stakeholders. In today’s world, that kind of time inefficiency has a progressively prohibitive cost. It’s not just that time is money. Time is the difference between making it or breaking along the way.

Job Placement

As you go further down the process the time and management inefficiencies of an old-school agency will only grow.

When it comes time to place a job with linguists with time zone challenges and a non-quantitative approach it becomes a hit-or-miss process.

Often the go-to linguist for that project management group is unavailable. They either plead with the translator to take on a greater workload (which inevitably impacts quality) or they have to go with a non-go-to translator which represents greater project risk. In a world where decision-making is based on heuristics, generalizations, reputation, and prejudice such as “they are amazing”, or “they have such a bad attitude”, making good consistent decisions is nearly impossible.

Project Managers are either working in a tight symbiosis with a few trusted linguists or are out in nowhere land working with people with a very little track record to ensure credibility. And even the credible translators are often working off fumes of past glory rather than recent credit and achievements.

Key Indicators

We overcame this by developing a uniquely quantitative approach to translation performance and quality based on our LEI ( Localization Efficiency Index) that measures how much work post-translation a sentence requires to become market-ready, Levenstein edit distances from machine translation feeds, time spent on each sentence, customer satisfaction polls and other relevant data points that allow our platform, not to just think about who is good, but predicts most likely at any given point in time to perform well at any specific translation assignment based on parameters such as subject matter, tone, and translator track-record.

But that’s not the end of it. Perhaps the most detrimental aspect of the old-school approach is that the high overhead necessary to keep the lights on requires someone to pay for it. That someone is the translator who typically gets squeezed into working at lower rates in exchange for more volume and predictable income. This exchange results in translators having to work faster to reach their desired level of income which means that they are less likely to devote the time and attention that’s necessary to produce excellence. It’s hard to go the extra mile when your rent is on the line.

Our platform approach that minimizes overhead allows translators to set their rates and they become eligible to take jobs provided that they are deemed technically competent and are within reason of basic supply-demand market parameters. This may seem like a detail but it’s the difference between night and day. With as much tech as we bring to the table, translators are still the stars of the show. It’s their talent, creativity, improvisation, and thought leadership that makes the difference between translations that are blah and translations that truly represent your brand.


Traditional approaches lead to traditional results. In our opinion, we believe that it is up to us to not accept traditional approaches driven by the fundamental belief that we can do better, that we must do better. We didn’t develop a translation platform because we thought it sounded like a cool thing. We developed our platform in the attempt of answering this key question: what is the most effective way to predictably deliver cost-effective translations for our clients. While there is nothing wrong with sticking to known patterns and relationships, there is nothing wrong with pushing the envelope and seeing where that can take you.

A well-oiled old-school translation agency can out-perform a poorly managed translation platform any day. There are no perspective one-size-fits in our opinion. But when it comes down to working with content management systems, connectors, continuous localization, and streamlining productivity nothing can beat the potential of a well-oiled platform if your goal is to maximize multilingual content production, productivity, and global customer engagement.


Collaborative translation is a powerful tool for your business if you’re looking to expand to new global markets. By coordinating a team of professionals who work together in real-time, you can quickly deliver high quality translations that resonate with local audiences.

But what if you don't know how to synchronize a large team's efforts? Or are you‌ struggling to find the right software for a well-coordinated translation process? Well, look no further! In this guide, you'll learn all the know-how's of collaborative translation to bring your brand to global audiences.


  1. What is collaborative translation?
  2. Why seamless translation collaboration is important
  3. Best practices for collaborative translation and global market success

What is collaborative translation?

Collaborative translation is when multiple people simultaneously work together to translate content. A collaborative translation process often makes use of specialized tools and software to make sure the translation is quick, accurate, and consistent.

  • Example: Let's say you're a B2B SaaS company looking to translate your marketing materials into a new language to connect with potential clients abroad. Use collaborative translation to bring together translators, developers, and other specialists to translate content into many languages at once.

Your team can use a collaborative translation platform like Redokun to work on projects simultaneously. A coordinated workflow will make sure that your translations use the same terminology and style, improving the quality of the translated product for your target audiences.

Collaborative Translation vs. Crowdsourcing

People often confuse collaborative translation with crowdsourcing and think the two are the same. However, these approaches to translation are different.

Crowdsourcing is when a large group of people contributes translations, often through an open call or invitation by a company or author. Brands can turn to crowdsourcing, community translation, or volunteer translation when they are looking to reduce costs and accelerate the process, especially for large multi-language projects.

In crowdsourced translations, the contributors can be volunteer translators, subject matter experts, or just anonymous individuals online. In other words, you may not know who's worked on the translation and what their qualifications are. It makes crowdsourcing distinct from collaborative translation, where the team would be an established group of professionals you've selected

Why seamless translation collaboration is important

As a busy B2B/B2C marketing manager or project manager, you might ask yourself: Isn't the "divide and conquer" a better strategy when working on a translation or localization project? It seems logical that each project team member, including translators, designers, and editors, works on their tasks separately and step by step.

However, collaborative translation can help your team reap many benefits compared to a traditional approach to translation projects:

Reasons why seamless translation collaboration is important
  • Produce high-quality translations consistently. When your whole team works on a translation project simultaneously on one platform, it's easier to stay in context and keep track of the translation accuracy for every target language. On top of that, your team can conduct agile QA throughout the project cycle.
  • Faster turnaround times. By working together, your team can complete projects faster and more efficiently. Centralization saves a lot of time at every stage of translation. And since your team can work on more than one translation at a time, you can publish your translated content in several new markets at once.
  • Reduced costs. You get to improve efficiency while working with a smaller team of translators. The smaller and more coordinated the team, the less the risk of costly translation errors. It means reduced translation costs and better project budget compliance.
  • Increased flexibility. Collaborative translation allows your team to produce translations into many languages at once and easily make changes to any project document. You can conveniently engage in a feedback loop and guarantee a continuous localization process.
  • Better communication. Collaborative translation effectively brings all members of your localization team together on one platform. It helps you make sure that everyone is working toward the same goals ‌and simplifies overall localization management.

Six best practices for collaborative translation and global market success

To be great at collaborative translation, you need to approach it strategically. Even if you've never used this approach before, you can follow the six steps below to build an efficient collaborative translation workflow. And if you're already familiar with this method, these practices will help you improve the way you collaborate on any translation projects.

Six best practices for collaborative translation for your global business success

1. Work out a detailed project plan

Before you start working on translations together, you need a clear-cut project plan. You should first identify the following items.

  • Project timeline: Define crucial deadlines, project milestones, and the overall project duration.
  • Translation volume and key deliverables: Calculate the general word count, and determine the workload for every language pair if you translate into multiple languages.
  • Project budget: Keep in mind possible added and hidden translation costs.
  • Project team: Define what kind of specialists you need: translators, editors, proofreaders, etc. Will you need to find external translators? Consider all your HR needs in advance.
  • Your approach to the translation process: How much do you want to rely on machine translation? At what point will you edit translated strings? Answer all these questions before you go on.
  • Quality assurance protocol: Establish an efficient QA procedure for all the language pairs you're working on.

It may sound like a handful but the more detailed the plan, the more streamlined the translations will be down the road. Besides, you can already use Redokun to boost this stage of the localization process!

Redokun is a translation management system you can use to automate, coordinate, and optimize your translation processes from content creation to publication.

Redokun simplifies your project planning. In particular, you can use the tool to:

  • Monitor your ongoing translations easily. Keep track of all of your translation files and projects across multiple languages in one space, and check their progress at a glance.
Redokun Document Detail Page
  • Meet deadlines with digest emails. Redokun will send you daily or weekly email digests to update you on the progress of translations. From there, you can initiate one-click reminders to your translators who are potentially falling behind schedule.
  • Making budget planning easier. Redokun has a transparent, scalable pricing structure that will cover exactly the volume of work your project needs.
Redokun is an easy-to-use tool that requires no onboarding. Your team can start using all the system’s features right away. During your project planning stage, you won’t need to factor in a lengthy training period to introduce team members to the tool.

2. Divide tasks and assign responsibilities the smart way

Good collaboration is impossible without a well-planned distribution and organization of roles and tasks. Ensure that every team member is on the same page and understands their respective responsibilities.

For example, the project managers should divide ‌translation tasks among translation team members according to their language proficiency, area of expertise, or subject matter knowledge.
  • On Redokun, you can invite translators to work on different language pairs and content types depending on their skills. All you need to do is enter the translator's email. The software will send them an email invitation and let you know once they've started translating the file.
  • You can also invite several translators to work on one document.
How to invite translators to Redokun

To maximize the efficiency of project management and task division, establish a clear structure of your workflow. Make sure all your pages, files, and folders are well organized and team members know where to find necessary resources for their respective tasks. A centralized, cloud-based storage for all your documents is a must.

  • Redokun is a cloud-based software that makes file management easy. You can create folders and customize permission settings for multiple users for better organization. No more need to look for spreadsheets and lost documents scattered around different digital locations.
  • Don't forget to make the most of the Reporting Dashboard. It shows you the status of the translation project and helps you see how users distribute tasks (for example, what methods they use to translate different content segments).
Redokun Dashboard with translation statistics

3. Enhance the collaborative translation process with clear communication

It's important to have open communication channels among all team members in your translation project, including internal and external translators. For a successful collaboration effort, you need a shared communication space to:

  • Conduct regular check-ins.
  • Discuss translation options and other aspects of the working process.
  • Update and adjust requirements and guidelines.
  • Maintain feedback loops.
It's up to you to choose between email, messengers, or tools like Google Drive or Slack to keep your collboarative operations flowing. However, using multiple channels for different aspects of the project can get messy. It's harder to manage your team and make sure all collaborators are up to date on the ongoing translation tasks.

You can avoid these potential problems by centralizing all your communications and project management. With translation software like Redokun, you can manage, translate, communicate, and collaborate — all in one place.

  • Translate content in context. Your translators or editors can use page previews in Web Editor to understand the context of the text while working on it.
  • Work together in real-time. Use Redokun as a full-scale collaborative translation platform. It enables real-time cooperation among your team members, improving efficiency and reducing communication errors.
  • Use comments, mentions, and notifications to exchange feedback quickly. Redokun's Web Editor is a convenient place to stay in touch and discuss your translation progress every step of the way.
Collaboration feature in Redokun
  • Create a hybrid workflow. Work with your in-house teams or external translators to suit different localization project formats and scalability needs.

4. Use machine translation and translation memory tools

Computer-assisted translation tools are a great addition to human translation. Machine translation (MT) helps your collaborators speed up the localization process by automating translation. Of course, it doesn't have the quality of a human professional translation — it’s more like a helping hand that's always there to facilitate the translation of complex phrases or new terms.

  • Redokun is integrated with two Machine Translation tools: Google Translate and DeepL. Translation suggestions by these two tools pop up right below where the translator should key in the translation, as shown here.

To enhance collaboration even further, consider using translation memory tools. They ensure consistency and save translation software users a lot of time.

Translation memory (TM) is a translation technology that stores previously translated sentences or phrases as segments and creates a unique database for your localization projects. You can reuse your translation to increase efficiency and consistency in ongoing and future translations.

With Redokun as your collaborative translation platform, you can leverage TM to:

  • Consistently translate any repeated word, phrase, or sentence across different language pairs and documents. It's especially important for translating technical terms, marketing slogans, CTAs, and other catchphrases. Translation memory helps you stay consistent in your marketing messaging.
  • Pre-translate your entire documents. Combine TM matches from your previous translations with Machine Translation to get a fully pre-translated document even before your team gets to work.
  • Manage your translation memory database. Import and customize your TM database to further improve translation quality and consistency.
”The speed of translation is quite impressive in that it doesn’t take [much time], maybe a couple of minutes when you translate from English to eight markets. I think that’s what I’m most impressed by.”

Read more about how Kenni and the marketing team at Rockfon increased their translation productivity by 70% using translation memories and other Redokun features

5. Use glossaries and style guides

Glossaries and style guides are valuable resources your team can use for reliable reference.

A glossary is a list of terms and their corresponding translations that are specific to a company or industry.

A style guide outlines the preferred tone, voice, and style for a company's marketing materials across markets and languages.

Your collaborators can refer to these resources when they’re not sure about a translation. For example is when they're deciding how to translate a company abbreviation, whether to the Oxford comma, or choosing the right tone to address customers, etc. No more ambiguity about linguistic, stylistic, and cultural aspects of your translations.

  • Use Redokun's glossary feature to create a glossary and style guide that outlines rules for spelling, grammar, punctuation, terminology, and tone specific to your project.
Redokun glossary feature preview

6. Continuously review and revise

A key benefit of a collaborative translation platform is the ability to review and revise translations in an agile and efficient manner. By involving multiple specialists in the process of editing and QA, you can guarantee accuracy and consistency in the translated content at every stage of the project.

To implement effective review and revision procedures in your collaborative translation projects, it is important to:

  • Plan for review and revision in advance. Identify who will be responsible, set the timeline, and use specific tools.
  • Consider involving in-country reviewers who are familiar with the local market and culture to ensure that the translations are accurate and appropriate for the target audience.
  • Perform regular QA checks. They should include consistency in terminology and formatting, and verify that the translations are free from grammatical errors and typos.
Pro-tip: Ever experienced the headache of having to update a translation that’s already 70% done when there is a last-minute change to the source document?

With Redokun’s revision feature, you don’t have to spend hours poring over Excel sheets and comparing files to spot the places where new words have been added or sentences have been changed. Just upload the latest document version and the system will identify new text that needs translating — saving your team’s time and effort while keeping previous translations intact.


Collaborative translation is an excellent approach if you want to improve the consistency of your translations, reduce costs, and establish a strong presence in global markets.

The key to seamless collaboration is a combination of careful planning, role distribution, agile QA, and smart use of translation software.

Make Redokun part of your collaborative translation efforts and enhance the pace of your global business growth‌. Start your 14-day free trial today and benefit from a quicker and more streamlined translation workflow.

Till next time,


Gabriel Fairman
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