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The importance of a project manager in a translation agency

  Project managers (abbreviated as PM) are key figures not only in the corporate world, but also in translation agencies: in fact, they see to the operational management of translation projects, or rather of the tasks which external clients assign to the agency. Tackling the agency’s work with a project management perspective ensures delivery within the established deadline, and provides a further guarantee of the final product’s quality: project managers must often be flexible, have decision-making abilities, a propensity for leadership, great attention to detail and excellent time and resource management skills (especially under pressure).  

What do project managers do in a translation agency?

PMs carry out tasks of both an operational and relational nature:  
  • preparation of the translation project in its various phases (after considering both the client’s needs and the means and human resources available to the project manager);
  • selection and management of the agency’s internal team and possibly also of the freelance collaborators with which they work;
  • continuous dialogue with the client, who must always be aware of the project’s progress, timing and costs.
    To be able to perform these functions, a project manager of a respectable translation agency must have:  
  • Language skills:
PMs often find themselves managing an international team, and must therefore be proficient in English. It is also useful for a project manager working in language services to have academic or professional training in translation, but the role is more related to management and can also be carried out by professionals with a different background.  
  • Technical skills:
Translation agency PMs must be familiar with the use of CAT tools (computer-assisted translation), which are essential when working with multiple languages and when very strict deadlines must be respected. They must also be able to manage the translation memories kept by the agency, i.e., the databases of translations previously carried out for ongoing clients. Some agencies also use specific software for project management and desktop publishing: knowing how to use them makes the PM’s work easier and faster.     To help you better understand the value of this professional figure within a translation agency, let’s take a detailed look at what a project manager does when a new assignment reaches the translation agency’s desk (or rather, email inbox).   1) Assignment of the translation The PM receives the client’s request and prepares an quote based on the documents to be translated along with the timing and availability of the linguistic collaborators. When the client accepts the quote and estimated delivery date, the PM launches the project.   2) Operative phase (project translation) The PM chooses the most suitable translators (and any revisers) based on the linguistic, formal and content characteristics of the documents. He or she establishes the delivery dates for the translators involved in the project, and prepares the translation packages using CAT Tools (each package must contain the files to be translated and any reference translation memories). At this point he or she launches, coordinates and monitors the work of the translators, constantly remaining in contact with the client in case of changes, unforeseen events and clarifications on the progress of the work: the PM must always be a reliable reference point for the client.   3) Quality control Possibly relying on an external reviser or carrying out this role independently, the PM ensures the quality of the final translation. Once the review is completed, he or she sends the package back to the translator. This exchange means that continuous training for both internal staff and translators is necessary, leading to a progressive reduction in the number of errors. Prior to delivery, the project undergoes a further overall rereading and spell check.   4) Delivery The PM prepares the final version of the translation in a format approved by the client and then delivers the translated document. Lastly, he or she updates the 4) Deliverytranslation memories with the new translated files.   A translation agency that intends to ensure efficient, timely deliveries must have a clear understanding of the value of a professional figure such as the project manager. Translation projects require complex management and considerable planning skills: many human resources are involved in the translation process, often with very different needs (language, time zone, etc.). It is also important to be familiar with certain computer programs, glossaries and client case histories. Finally, a liaison between clients and the professionals involved in the project is of fundamental importance. Many of our clients at Translation Agency have chosen to place their trust in us thanks to the task management skills of our project management team, which can best meet your every need and guarantee delivery within the set deadlines. For more information and to request a consultation, simply contact us.