One would think that with the advancement of technology and the rise of analytics and insights, it would not be very difficult to calculate how long does it take to manage a translation project. But perhaps to your surprise, there is no formal research conducted on this topic.
However, for those who live and breathe translation automation like us, thinking and discussing this problem is essential to achieving greater business efficiency. In this blog post, we break up the most important factors that influence project creation and management.
Project management: A definition
What does a project manager’s role include? Each company is a world on its own that requires PMs to perform a unique set of efforts that vary in scope and range. Still, there are tasks that do not belong strictly to the project management sphere even if many PMs carry them out on a daily basis. Here is some food for thought:
The project workflow
The project workflow constitutes the cornerstone of a project management department in every translation company. In order to fully understand how much it takes to manage a project, it is also important to address the following:
The specifics of a project
How long is a project in general?
At the moment we don’t have a perfect answer to this question, but we know it varies according to factors such as customer, project type, and whether you work for other translation companies or end customers. On average, creating a translation and review project – ordered via email – into three target languages consists of the following steps:
- Confirming the project to the customer via email (2 minutes)
- Entering the project details for one target language into the business management system and uploading the files (4 minutes)
- Adding the two other target languages and setting up the start dates and deadlines (1 minute per language = 2 minutes)
- Creating the job in a CAT tool (3 minutes)
- Selecting the translator and reviewer with an automatic vendor selection (1 minute per language, 2 minutes)
- Reassigning the translator and reviewer in the CAT tool (0 minutes with integration)
- Updating the translation memories (0 minutes with integration)
- Delivering the translation to the customer (3 minutes)
Without having yet opened the file, the project manager has already spent 16 minutes. In this example, the project manager spent 4 minutes on the additional target languages which represent 18% of the project creation per language (not taking into account customer communication, thus only counting the second to the seventh steps, 4 minutes / 11 minutes / 2 languages), or 25% with customer communication included.
Language service providers that want to raise efficiency need to clearly define what’s project creation and management in practical terms and when it comes to the use of technology. Tasks that are related to this workflow but which are not strictly project management should not be counted.
All in all, managing a single language project should take between 10-30 minutes. Companies that can automatically assign vendors (a feature in many TMSes) will be close to the 10 minutes, while those who do it manually will naturally spend more time.
It is important to remember that adding language pairs to the same project doesn’t take the same time as creating the first language pair. On average the project manager will need between 15% to 30% of the time taken for the first language pair (with less variation because the vendor selection is probably the same in both cases).