It may be hard to differentiate between enterprise translation management systems at first glance, especially if your needs are still relatively basic. But weighing your options is a crucial step for your organization. The technical specifications and levels of service vary among translation management systems, and there are certain elements that will prove to be indispensable as your enterprise grows. Knowing what to look for in a TMS will help guide you as you continue to round out your localization strategy.
Choosing Your Enterprise Translation Management System
You’re looking for powerful technical capabilities in your TMS, but you’re also looking for a dedicated partner with the experience to fit the whole puzzle together.
The most task-heavy part of a translation project isn’t actually the translation. It’s the workflow management—uploading, downloading, emailing, reformatting, and all the other mechanical steps between assigning content for translation and its eventual utilization in the target language.
What does an automated platform look like for your purposes?
A machine can handle many of the low-level aspects of management for you, and that is exactly when you want to be replacing human efforts with automation. A centralized, automated TMS platform can relieve you of the busy work and help preserve linguists’ and managers’ time for where it’s needed most. Look for a system that has limited touchpoints but clear ways to intervene if things don’t go as they should. The system should bring in managers as an exception. You should be able to see the progress of the project if you look, but the system should not ask you to click on buttons at every juncture.
API or CLI integrations with your TMS are essential for real efficiency. They create the necessary and reliable links that streamline content workflow into and out of your TMS. With these integrations, you are able to optimize the relationship with your vendor because, again, you’re eliminating the busy work and the waiting.
Ideally, your whole localization ecosystem is integrated. With centralized workflows and assets, all stakeholders have what they need to perform their specialized roles and to collaborate for the best project results.
An Emphasis on Quality
While you don’t want to micromanage every step of the translation process, you still want to be sure that the job is done right. Transparency is the key here, and it is a weak spot for many translation management systems. You want to measure your translators’ performance, and you want to know that they are leveraging and updating your translation assets—including term bases, translation memories, and style guides. You want to be able to see the status of a project instantly and should be able to dig into any part of the process through your platform.
Besides being transparent, a TMS needs to be comprehensive. Often, systems don’t provide sufficient mechanisms for quality management. Ideally, it will be an entire module with a clear pathway and chain of accountability in which the editors, in-country reviewers, and other stakeholders have an opportunity (and a responsibility) to QA your content. In the end, it’s important to have reliable tracking across the board. Having data at your fingertips that represent efficiency and quality allows you to make informed high-level management decisions.
Versatility and Scalability
Your translation and localization needs are not static. You may start out with minimal needs, translating predominantly one format—maybe documents or software—but you don’t know how your business will evolve. Or you might start out focusing on software localization, forgetting that you will absolutely need to include documentation in the process for success in new markets.
Not all TMSs are equipped to accommodate different types of content. And before you know it, your needs may quickly become more varied and complex. Your legal department may start requesting translated pdfs that will require an entire formatting subroutine. You may make training videos for new employees, which will need multimedia localization support. Your marketing material may grow in complexity and require so much language-specific creative input that they will be effectively reimagined. And that may be only the beginning. No matter what need arises, you need to be able to leverage the technology, the talent, and the assets already in place if you’re going to scale gracefully and see the highest ROI.
Putting the Pieces Together for Your Best TMS
Yes, you need to find the very best translation management system for your enterprise, but you also need to know how best to use it, how to evolve it, and how to staff it. You need a partner that is experienced in diverse localization projects and willing to commit to your company’s short- and long-range goals. In fact, getting to know your potential partners can give you a pretty good picture of how robust and reliable their localization platform will be—and how transparent. Take the time out for these important conversations to get to know the experts and to hear about their visions for your translation management and localization workflow, for the win.
The Bureau Works automated, centralized platform provides comprehensive localization solutions. We use CLI/API integration and highly developed QA technology, and we offer full support to our customers for ongoing, scalable localization. Contact our team to learn more about how we can help your company reach a global audience.