Life at an LSP
When I left my previous company Kilgray – now rebranded as memoQ – in 2016, I took a well-deserved rest after 12 years of non-stop work. I changed the climate and moved to Spain, but after a few months, I found myself a little bored. To keep myself entertained, I provided consultancy for a few LSPs all around Europe, and finally, I took a one-year job at On Global Language Marketing.
I had dedicated most of my professional life to translation software, but paradoxically, this was my first time ever working for a translation company. It was definitely an eye-opening experience! A variety of workflows and tools all revolving around serving customers. Productivity was certainly not the primary driver; what mattered most was delivering projects on time, no matter the cost.
The work we did for two larger MLVs (mainly translation jobs into Spanish) landed on our doors through their vendor portals. So from day one, I encouraged the team to simplify the workflows in XTRF and automate as much as possible. However, project creation remained a manual task and even if it did not require a lot of thinking, it was still a lot of copy-pasting effort. We lost valuable time, especially on the small projects…
It turns out that simple things like copy-pasting are indeed quite difficult to automate! During these years, I had learned a bit about programming, but I did not venture into doing API-based automation, so in the end, a working background script was created with the help of a third-party.
But that script threw too many errors: It wasn’t able to find new project managers whenever they were added into the system and we frequently had to fight an unknown language code in the source. Sometimes the vendor portal’s APIs would fail. Sometimes the script made XTRF crash.
Once I was the CEO of a prestigious translation technology company, and now I wasn’t being able to handle a simple integration? I couldn’t help wondering what would other vendors to MLVs felt like?
Turning translation projects into a business idea
After having finished my duties with On Global, I began to work closely for a number of single-language vendors and confirmed my initial hypothesis: the multitude of technology workflows prevents them from working efficiently. I also noticed that many of them were working for the same customers. After some twists and turns, I came up with the general idea of developing automation technology for small and recurring projects.
The source of the problem
Small jobs are becoming more frequent thanks to the proliferation of continuous localization, a “by-product” of the continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) approach which has become the norm with IT companies, the customers of many MLVs. The purpose of this approach is to minimize the time required to deliver a usable version of a software product. However, this famed continuity already breaks once it gets to the first vendor…
How little do we know about these software development processes in the localization industry! We need to learn more in order to support these workflows better.
Why do partnerships fail?
In my previous company, the lack of integrations was among the most frequent client complaints. But even when we started integrating with third-party technologies, none of them became overwhelmingly successful. It took me a while to realize the key to successful integrations it’s not the technology itself but the business model.
When there is no substantial incentive behind an integration, people don’t make an extra effort to understand the customers or the other party to the integration. There is little discussion of workflows and chances are that each party has differing assumptions of how customers use both systems together. It is likely that there will be undocumented gaps in the integration and a lot of pointing fingers. You want to sell more of your software while your partner wants to sell more of theirs – but neither one is keen on investing more time or money into making it work.
Successful partnerships require common goals, pre-agreed measures, and a common roadmap: both parties need to invest work if they aim to deliver a smooth customer experience. Success is also bound to effective communication management between the partners. Whenever one of the systems changes, integrations need to be updated as well. A partnership is always more investment than a feature.
BeLazy: The partnership company
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce BeLazy, the localization industry’s partnership facilitator. On the surface, we are another technology provider but what lays down beneath is a unique value proposition, all about making companies work together more efficiently.
I took a while to figure out a fair business model for this company, and my final conclusion is that we need to charge a percentage of the business turnover from the projects that are automated with our software. Here’s why:
- The more projects and connections you automate with BeLazy, the more project management time you save.
- It doesn’t matter whether you are based in a cheap or expensive country, we charge a percentage because everybody spends approximately an equal amount of time on project creation.
- Most importantly, we can pay back a percentage of our revenues to partners that become committed to making the integration work and help make the system evolve. The more you contribute to our cause, the more money we pay back.
We are so excited to embark on this journey of a completely tech-agnostic technology provider. Everything we do requires two other systems produced by other companies. We are unique in the problems we solve, and in the methods that we apply to problem-solving.
Who’s BeLazy for at the moment?
BeLazy already addresses a very tangible problem at the time of its first release. Right now, the system is useful for translation companies working for other translation companies. How does it work? BeLazy constantly monitors your vendor portals checking for your new projects, and when you approve a project, it is automatically created in your instance of XTRF or Plunet. We want to save you from having to juggle between many web URLs.
At the moment, we support all XTRF vendor portals, some Plunet vendor portals (those that have explicitly given us permission), and Transline’s Transact portal. But we won’t stop here: several other portals are coming soon.
Where is BeLazy heading?
In the second half of this year, we are going to release new and exciting functionalities.
- First, BeLazy will become available for freelancers as well – for free.
- Then we will add auto-approval rules to the system, so you can approve and create simple projects even when not at your desk.
- We will also include new vendor portals and integrate them with Google Sheets (not only XTRF and Plunet).
And we won’t stop here. Because continuous localization projects are coming from the end customers, we are also planning to empower them with the right toolset to make them efficient.
How can you get involved?
- Translation companies with XTRF or Plunet: start using the system and share your thoughts with us. Let us know if you need support for another business management system.
- Translation buyers: get in touch to schedule a call about your working methods and where we could help you.
- MLVs with your own portal: please get in touch to discuss integrations.