What is a CAT Tool?

Project managers, human resource agents, and marketing professionals know translation is essential in today's business climate. A global workforce, customer base, and corporate presence all require the ability to communicate across languages.
Rodrigo Demetrio
4 min

Project managers, human resource agents, and marketing professionals know translation is essential in today's business climate. A global workforce, customer base, and corporate presence all require the ability to communicate across languages. That's why the global translation service market is expected to reach $3 billion at some point in the next five years.

However, with the increased demand for translations comes an ever-growing challenge: how to ensure that translations are accurate and consistent? Hiring multiple translators might solve this problem, but it's too costly for many. Companies are turning to computer-assisted translation or CAT tools to help.

What is a CAT tool, you might be wondering? How does it work? And how can it benefit the business? Let's find out.

What are CAT Tools?

Computer-assisted translation tools - CAT tools- software programs designed to help translators do their work quicker at a higher volume. CAT tools come with a broad set of features that can make translations easier and more accurate.

When working on a tight schedule, a translator can use a computer-assisted translation tool to finish the job quickly. For some translators, CAT tools have allowed them to more than double their per-hour output. CAT tools are widely used by professional translators, agencies, and publishers to make the translation process smoother.

What Do CAT Tools Do?

A computer-assisted translation tool streamlines the translation process by breaking the text down into small, easily manageable segments. It stores the segments in a database called "translation memory." There, they can be reused, modified, or updated.

The next time when one of the stored segments is needed, the translator can quickly get it without having to re-translate. When the translated material is similar to one of the stored segments, the CAT tool can suggest a match. That reduces the translator's workload, so they don’t have to start from scratch.

The more content one translates, the more translation segments the software can reuse. That kind of automation helps one's translation work remain consistent and accurate. More than 85% of translators that have used CAT tools in the past say they're great resources that they "couldn't live without."

How do CAT Tools Work?

A translation project was done manually in the past, with the translator going through the text line by line. Today, nearly every serious translator uses a CAT tool to automate the process. According to a recent Proz survey, roughly 9 out of 10 translators have used at least one CAT tool for their tasks.

At the start of a project, the translator will load a text document into a CAT tool. The software presents the text as a two-column table of sentence segments. The source text appears in one column, and the target translation in the other.

There are multiple other functions available, including:

Memory Tools

Translation memories are the core feature of CAT tools. You can find words, segments, and even full sentences stored in these databases. You can refer to the memory segments when translating similar content for future projects.

These databases, however, don't contain only translation segments. They also contain style guides and glossaries in multiple languages. These tools provide you with an endless number of multi-language resources. Memory is really effective for repetitive content like guides, product descriptions, and NDAs, to name a few.

Terminology Management


When you're translating multiple pieces of content for a single organization - think web pages, employee manuals, and the like - maintaining the same terminology across the board is more important than you think.

With a translation memory management tool, using only company-approved terms is a breeze. Storing approved terms in a database allows you to quickly refer to them when needed. That way, a translator can ensure that all content translated for a given organization remains on-brand and follows the language guidelines to a t.

In-context Translation

At the dawn of modern translation technology, computers could only translate isolated phrases. That often led to literal translations that would only confuse the reader.

Thanks to in-context translation, you can now translate content while maintaining the text's original context.

You can get a preview of the translated text using a CAT tool and see how a text will look once exported. That minimizes the chances that a human translator will miss an error during a manual review.

Desktop Publishing

Desktop publishing, or DTP for short, is one of the final phases of the translation process. DTP is the process that involves formatting a translated text so that it retains the same layout as the original.

Once the translator completes the job, the translated text will go to a DTP specialist who imports the text into a DTP program like InDesign. Then, they modify the translated text so that the layout looks as identical as possible to the original.

Top Features of CAT Tools

If you've ever used an advanced text editor, then you shouldn't have any problems using a CAT tool. Such tools are pretty straightforward and user-friendly. There are many different CAT tools on the market. While there are some big and small differences between them, the core features remain the same. Let's look at the top computer-assisted translation tool features.

Translation Memory (TM)

A record of previously created translations is called translation memory, or TM for short. Translators can use the function to split big multilingual documents into smaller fragments and store them in a database.

The next time a translator uses the translation management system and recognizes an identical match (full match) - or even a similar one (fuzzy matching) - in a new translation project, it will automatically suggest the translation.

As mentioned earlier, when you're dealing with content that has repetitive technical jargon, the CAT tool is indispensable. Translation memory will save time, energy, and money.

Term Base

Term base, often called a translation glossary, is a database that contains definitions or instructions for the use of translated terminology. That sounds a bit complicated. What does it mean?

Well, a term base is similar to a dictionary containing a list of words and phrases relevant to a company, organization, or institution the translator works with. The feature is there to ensure the accuracy of used terms.

Taking a break every few minutes to look at different terms can be quite time-consuming. That's why some CAT tools allow users to access the term bases within the software. The translators can use the term base without constantly switching between windows, needlessly clicking away.

Quality Assurance

BMX Platform

Text editors like Microsoft Word and Google Docs have had spell checkers and grammar tools for nearly two decades at this point. So it's only natural that CAT tools possess certain quality assurance (QA) capabilities.

A QA tool will go through the text and find missing words, deviations from approved terminologies, and numeric mismatches in seconds. The QA feature will scan through the text and look for any potential errors or typos. It also provides suggestions on areas you can improve to make the translation more accurate.

Any text should go through the QA process before it's sent to the client. With QA, translators can rest assured that they've done their job at the highest possible quality.

Real-time Collaboration

Using a cloud-based CAT tool, a translator can collaborate with other translators, proofreaders, managers, and even customers in real-time. That allows the translator to receive input from other participants without having to wait to write an email and wait for a response.

Translators can finish a portion of the translation work, share it with a collaborator, and decide together whether the tone, wording, and context are correct. Certain tools even allow you to coordinate with different team members, give them tasks, and assign due dates too.

Machine Translation

Machine translation is a function that relies on artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically translate any text. You can use machine translation to quickly translate a text without human intervention.

When you need a few dozen pages translated quickly, machine translation can come in handy, since it's much faster than traditional translation methods.

Of course, having speed often means sacrificing accuracy. That's why you should always double-check the translation with a professional translator or use post-editing services to adjust the machine-translated text.

Machine Translation vs. Computer-Assisted Translation

Speaking of machine translation, one might wonder whether it serves the same purpose as a CAT tool. After all, they both involve computers and can help you translate faster - so is there any actual difference between the two?

While in the translation industry, the terms machine translation and computer-assisted translation are clearly defined and not used interchangeably, people outside the industry often get confused between the two.

Machine translation (MT) is an automated translation where software processes a written text and translates it into another language. It allows the translator to give their input and customize the text for a better result. MT can translate any text quickly but requires proofreading and editing afterward.

On the other hand, computer-assisted translation is a process in which software supplements a translator's effort. Translation software helps a translator create a database of translated segments, which can be reused and shared. It's not a translation substitution but a translator's aid.

While MT focuses on getting the translation done fast, CAT tools help to make the post-editing process less time-consuming.

Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) Tool Benefits

A CAT tool can seemingly handle everything from creating a visual translation memory to post-editing machine translations. So, what does using one bring to the table? Now, we'll look at some of the biggest benefits of CAT tools so you can understand how your translation projects can be improved.


Let's get the biggest and most-obvious benefit out of the way. Whether you're a business owner in need of large volumes of translated text or a professional linguist translating multiple projects at once - a translation management system is there to boost productivity.

Without proofreading, translation software can do the job of several people in a fraction of the time. And just how much one's productivity can increase? Freelance translators report that their productivity can increase anywhere between 40% and 60% by using a CAT tool.


CAT tools can help you maintain consistency throughout your translation projects. Every company has a set of approved terms and phrases. These terms are used for in-organization manuals as well as on customer-facing websites, brochures, and ad campaigns. Keeping everything consistent can be challenging, especially for an inexperienced translator.

No matter the volume, industry, or language combination, a CAT tool can help you maintain consistency. These translation tools can store branded terms, approved by the company owners, in a database. Professional translators can refer to them at any time they want. That way, the translator won’t have to worry about getting it wrong, and the higher-ups can rest easy knowing all of their content is consistent.


Did you know that for 75% of employees, flexibility is the biggest workplace benefit? Regarding translation, CAT tools help linguists be more flexible with their schedules and client base. The translator doesn't need to spend all of their day sitting behind a desk in an office.

The translation tools allow you to add team members, reviewers, and others to work on projects in real-time. They're also accessible across multiple platforms. You have a desktop, mobile, and web version.

So, while they make it easier to work on translations, they also provide the flexibility needed to get them done quickly and efficiently.


Although CAT tools allow you to speed things up significantly, that's not their only purpose. A major benefit is their ability to help you deliver higher quality products with less effort. In simple terms, you can improve your translation quality without wasting time.

How? If you're translating content within the same industry, you're probably using the same phrases, tone, and style over and over again. By referencing internal language databases integrated into the CAT tool, you can easily pick up these nuances and improve the quality of your translations.


Frankly, freelance translators aren't cheap. A professional translator will charge between $0.10 and $0.20 per word. That means even a modest project might cost you a lot. And if you need translation on an ongoing basis, the costs can quickly become unaffordable.

Investing in translation software can help you save money in the long run. With a CAT tool, the translator doesn't need to retype the same phrases several times in similar documents. These phrases are already stored in the tool's database. You can handle more projects with fewer people and at a lower cost.

How to Choose a CAT Tool

You know what a CAT tool is, how the translation technology works, and its biggest benefits. What else should you know? There are many CAT tools out there, so picking one isn't that straightforward. That's why we're going to talk about some of the most important factors to consider when getting a CAT tool.

Decide on a Budget

While you can find free CAT tools out there, you need to be aware that most cat tools require a fee. Free CAT tools can be a great option for small businesses, but if you're looking for something with more features, you'll need to choose one of the paid CAT tools.

That's why it's important to understand what features you'll need and how much funds you'll be able to spend. Consider what payment model would be most suitable for your needs.

In the beginning, the investment might seem a little bit high. However, it will pay off in saved time, efficiency, and translation quality.

Define Your Goals

Do you need to translate in-house documents for internal use? Are you translating marketing content for an international audience? Do you need a specialized tool for medical translations?

These are all important considerations when choosing a CAT tool.

You should take time to outline your needs and define what you'll use the CAT tool for. That will help you narrow down your choices and find a tool that suits you best. Work out who'll use the CAT tool the most and ask them what kind of features they need to get the job done.

Look for Integrations

BWX integrations

Every tool you add to your translation workflow needs to complement it perfectly. It needs to bridge the existing gaps, optimize the process, and help improve the translation quality.

That's why you should always look for integrations when shopping for a CAT tool.

Different integration levels are available on the market. There are solutions that work better with eCommerce software and ones that work better with accounting apps. Your choice will depend on your specific needs, so check what integrations the CAT tool offers.

Do a Back-check

You're probably doing your best to find the perfect CAT tool for your business. But you can't just trust the claims a copywriter hired by the company made in the product's marketing campaign. You need to do your homework and see what real people have been saying about the tool.

The easiest way to do this is to look up written and video reviews. You can find them on the company's website, YouTube, industry-specific blogs, as well as forums. Read what other users say about the product, and check out both the positive and negative comments.

Use the Free Trial

Once you create a shortlist of language service providers and software localization tools you're interested in, it's time to give them a test run. Start by signing up for a free trial. This way, you can see how the CAT tool works in real life and if it's worth investing in.

There are also free CAT tools, so you don't even need to sign up for a free trial. With a free translation memory tool, you can experiment with basic management system functionalities, file formats, and linguistic quality assurance.

With free trial, you can also check out the user interface and help sections to see if the software is something you'd like to work with.

Best CAT Tools on the Market

So now that you know how to pick a fully featured CAT tool, it's time to look at a few translation management system providers out there. All of these CAT tools come with features like translation memory, terminology management, project and workflow management, quality assurance, file format support, multilingual capabilities, and more.

  • Bureau Works - An innovative CAT tool that helps translators, agencies, and corporations manage translation projects efficiently. The platform prioritizes translators by offering a cockpit equipped with a glossary, translation memory, machine translation, and ChatGPT. These resources aid translators in making informed decisions and achieving optimal results.
  • SDL Trados Studio - A powerful CAT tool that offers a wide range of features, including automated translation options, full-text search capabilities, and multiple translation memories, to name a few.
  • memoQ - A popular CAT tool that allows you to quickly search, edit and manage multiple projects. It offers software localization, full-text search capabilities, as well as terminology management tools.
  • Smartcat- Smartcat is a powerful translation resource management system that allows you to manage, analyze, and track projects from start to finish. Reportedly, the tool helps users achieve an 80% reduction in translation costs.

Empowering Human Translators With Machine Translation

With the population increasing, Internet penetration rising, and cross-sea trade blossoming, the translation industry will continue to expand. Working with people from different cultures, backgrounds, and languages is an avoidable part of the business world.

That's why knowing what CAT tools are and how they can help you is important. Using your own CAT tool can help you speed up translation projects, maintain consistency across all outputs, provide flexibility, and even save money in the long run.

With Bureau Work's technological framework, you can continuously deliver high-quality translations, no matter your industry. The framework has the translation know-how of experienced language service providers, and it's easy to use.

Make sure to contact us today, check out our free trial, and see if we're the right service for you.

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,


Rodrigo Demetrio
Steering the marketing ship at Bureau Works with 17+ years of MarTech under my belt, I transform mere ideas into tangible realities. Passionate about languages and their power to build bridges, let's build a new one?
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