Most translation companies strive to standardize their processes, but only a few are really successful. If implemented unthoughtfully, standardization might even prevent growth when the market requirements start to change. Automation, however, only works with well-defined steps and relatively few exceptions.
Recently, we have observed a trend which seems can jeopardize efficiency: as translation companies grow, owners and senior team members begin to focus on strategic goals rather than everyday work, often leading to problems with macromanagement.
But how does this trend relates to standardization or automation? Under these circumstances, it is likely that the different teams within a company set up workflows according to the best of their knowledge but often disregarding the need for unification of the standard steps in the translation projects. On a team level, the approach works efficiently, but on a company level, it hinders the possibility to centralize and automate processes. This is why it is key to have management team members who understand the nitty-gritty of production if you want to run an efficient operation.
So, the main two reasons why companies fail to automate processes are basically specific client requests and the distancing of management from production. Both can often be improved with communication, but first, a problem definition is needed.
The automation evaluation worksheet
We have created an automation evaluation worksheet that has two purposes:
1- HELP YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR PRODUCTION BETTER
You can compile this worksheet even without the immediate need for evaluation to better document your processes. While many companies are ISO9001 certified, relatively few have every process documented. This sheet aims to give a high-level overview and some pointers to detailed instructions, and can be useful in onboarding new staff members, and identifying what processes may require improvement. We have not added information like project profitability, because that’s often not easy to calculate.
2- SHARE INFORMATION WITH US SO WE CAN SUPPORT YOU BETTER
BeLazy’s goal is to help translation companies further streamline their processes by taking advantage of our technology or standard/custom solutions from the market, and automation consultancy services. Please note that in order to start to use BeLazy’s technology, you don’t need to have this table ready, but it could be a good basis to start using our automation consultancy services.
Let’s go through what you should enter into each of the columns:
Depending on who fills out this table, you may need to add additional sections: usernames, passwords, etc. Many vendor portals have logins and the login details need to be available for the people who need to manage these projects, of course. If you don’t have another place to store these, you may add them here, however, it may be easier to store them in a password manager application such as Keepass (which we also use at BeLazy because it’s free and robust).
How to interpret this table?
We believe there are three uses to this table:
2- RECOGNIZE PROJECT TYPES THAT ARE OVERLY COMPLICATED AND NEED SPECIAL TRAINING
These projects can be a good candidate for simplification, and if the amount of revenue is low, you may be better off giving up on these projects, as they might be not very profitable (consider the cost of training of staff, what to do when the PM in charge is on holiday, etc.). You may decide to write step-by-step instructions for these jobs.
3- IDENTIFY WHICH PROJECT TYPES ARE THE BEST CANDIDATES FOR AUTOMATION
Usually, we recommend that you look at the turnover divided by the number of tasks, and then the standardization degree. Standardized small projects are the best candidates for automation, as the human PM work may be fully eliminated. A lower degree of standardization usually calls for simplification, which can be done by involving the project manager and often also the customer, especially if the customer is approachable.
How can we help you?
We hope that this tool will serve your profitability! At BeLazy, we provide automation services. We suggest you prepare this table (does not have to be fully comprehensive, you may decide to only concentrate on large project numbers), and then have a discussion.
We will discuss whether automation and the use of robots can be useful to you, and prepare a quote which is a combination of the use of our technology and any necessary scripting you may need. We also do visits to offices and prepare a similar overview of your processes, with detailed information about automation possibilities.