How to Choose a Translation Management System

by Shu Ni Lim Shu Ni Lim 9 minutes to read

thinking about getting a translation management system

Do you constantly find yourself translating a bulk load of content that needs your manual intervention at every turn? If you answered yes, it may be time to choose a translation management system to turn that tedious cycle into something more efficient.

Overview

What Is a Translation Management Software?

A translation management software, or translation management system (TMS), is a platform people use to manage and automate their localization workflow. It gives your multilingual projects a significant boost by making translation data more accessible and more immediate.

Remember that there is not a single translation tool that will fit all types of needs, but the right one can speed things up for you. As such, there are 3 things you need to consider before finding one that fits your business needs.

Before you choose a translation management system...

1. Defining Your Business Goals

By listing down your business goals, you would be able to narrow down the pool of translation management software based on the features you need. Check out this handy filter we created here that does just that!

If you're a translator who wants to work more productively on your regular clients' projects, a simple computer-assisted translation tool, or CAT tool, might do the trick.

If you run a global business of any scale, you could take a look at your current workflow and identify the areas that might be slowing you down. Better yet, get your colleagues or partners involved for a more complete perspective!

Here are some examples of what other people seek to improve about their workflow using TMS:

  • Automate most of the localization processes
  • Spend less time on repetitive paperwork
  • Spend less time on searching for translation-related data (e.g. commonly used phrases, glossaries)
  • Create better quality translations without going overbudget
  • Reducing unnecessary email communication by collaborating directly on translation platform
  • Simplify the process of updating documents that are already being translated but needs some revisions
  • Establish an internal translation content hub that is reusable and scalable to their growing business
  • Complete complex projects quicker

These examples may not apply to everyone but the overall idea remains the same: understanding your goals of getting a translation management software helps you find realistic solutions for real problems.

2. Check What Your Team Needs

Who can understand the needs better than yourself and your team members who work closely with you?

If you've started your research in finding the right software for your business, then you might have noted that they all have their standout features designed for various purposes.

Generally, you can differentiate the translation management systems (TMS) on the market today based on:

a) The amount of language pairs you are aiming for

Some machine translation engines included in the TMS are better at translating certain language pairs than others.

b) The type of documents you need to translate

Some companies only want to translate websites, while others want to translate mostly documents. Whichever category you belong to, there are translation management systems that specialize in translating one or the other.

c) The number of documents or platforms you need to translate within a timeframe

Subscription tiers for TMS usually vary according to the maximum amount of word or pages you can translate monthly.

d) The processing and onboarding time

First of all, is the software itself quick and efficient? Second of all, will it be easy for you and your team to learn how to use the software? Do you have time to train them in using a sophisticated but complex system?

e) The quality of the translation output

Is it accurate, consistent, and on brand across all your business content?

f) The price of translation

Do you translate a lot of files with similar or repeated content? If so, it would usually be cheaper to reuse or repurpose the translation you already paid for before.

By answering the questions above, you can already narrow down to a few options, which brings us to the next step.

3. Sign Up for a Demo or Trial

Now that you're left with a handful of choices, the most effective way to determine the best among them is to actually use the software.

Ideally, you don't want a tool that is just kind of helpful, but rather an ecosystem you can rely on daily. So familiarize yourself with the UI, identify what you like or dislike, and talk to the support team.

You'll be glad to know that most translation management systems offer a free trial. (On a totally related note, so do we.)

What you need in a good translation management software

While you will find variations in the functionalities of different TMS, there are several features that I think are important for anyone who is using the translation software for business.

1. Easy and Fast Communication

Running a global business often means you have internal or external collaborators from all over the world. When there are new projects to be done or changes to an ongoing one, how fast are you able to communicate with them?

Easy and fast communication can achieved in a good TMS is through features such as:

  • options to invite and manage who can access what documents
  • real-time collaborative editing of translations
  • branching and versioning controls

These features drastically reduce the amount of emails sent and people you have to CC or BCC in threads. They are commonly found in cloud-based translation management systems.

2. Smarter Translations

Now getting started on a new translation project doesn't mean starting from scratch on an empty Word file or an Excel spreadsheet.

Many translation management software provides a translation editor or interface. While using it, you can gain access to a range of powerful computer-assisted translation tools and get a productivity boost. These tools include:

a) Machine Translation

Many TMS will have built-in machine translation engines, which can be used to pre-translate large volumes of content instantly, then further refined by a translator or an editor.

The choice of machine translation engines will vary from one provider to another. Find out which are the best ones for businesses in 2021 here.

b) Translation Memory

A database you can use to store approved translations and reuse similar or matching segments in upcoming projects. Read our full writeup about translation memories here.

c) Automatic File Formatting

Spend less time fixing the formatting of your assets after translating them. The translation software will retain the layout and generate a translated document you can download and use.

3. Faster Translations at Lower Costs

Translation management software should ideally make your translation projects more accessible and faster to finish. And for them to do that, they recycle past translations, which can effectively save not just your time but also your money.

4. Easy to Use and Implement

I've seen some translation management systems that are too complex or confusing to use, especially for beginners. You could easily lose precious time trying to navigate the system and its features and end up doing a bulk of the work yourself manually.

In many cases, a translation management system that's easy to use is better than one with all the bells and whistles but is complicated to implement for a team with varying levels of skills.

5. Data Protection and Safety Measures

When you're translating confidential and copyrighted business assets, you need a translation management platform that protects your data.

Apart from checking a provider's data security policies, you could also choose cloud-based translation management software like Redokun to ensure you don't lose your data if your computer breaks down.

6. Reliable Support System

A good support team will be your first line of defense against software glitches, errors, or other technical issues. However, it might be difficult to contact them when it comes to certain translation software providers, and other times they may even be non-existent.

Therefore, before committing to any TMS, you must check if it is well maintained by the developers. You can do so by checking if their blog and resource pages are updated, or ask questions through the right channels and see how responsive they are.

Signs that you might be using the wrong software

Using a translation software is generally a good solution for businesses looking to establish a more automated and dynamic workflow. However, if you can't seem to reap the benefits of using a translation management system fully, it could indicate that you're using the wrong one.

In fact, billion of hours are wasted every year due to poor software choices, and this has far-reaching impact on other aspects of your business, such as employee satisfaction and retention.

From the perspective of a translation project manager, here are 3 signs that your translation management system is not creating the most conducive workflow for you and your team:

1. You spend most of your time navigating the software and consulting the help guide.

The reason why people subscribe to translation software in the first place is to get things done quicker. However, if you find yourself spending a lot of time learning how the platform works, you may lose a lot of time that would otherwise be spent on completing your projects.

Personally, whenever I'm shopping for new software, I try to remind myself: Just because a software tool has every feature I can think of, doesn't mean I need all of them.

The bottom line is to know what you need and stick to a tool that's easy to implement.

2. You constantly need to revise what the system produces.

One of the major issues that translation management system addresses is having to manually fix translated documents where the formatting and layout have deviated from the originals.

If your TMS output still requires significant manual intervention from you, there could be two reasons for that. Either the TMS is not the best choice for retaining complex formatting or the original documents uploaded to the TMS are not optimized for translation.

Check out this free resource we've written on how to your optimize Word documents for translation. We also have similar e-book on how to optimize InDesign documents you can download here.

3. You run into problems when doing something routine.

One thing I learned from preparing content for market circulation is to anticipate the last minute content revisions that will be thrown in your way. This can cause even more chaos in the context of translation projects especially when you are translating the same text into multiple languages.

Some translation management systems aren't built to handle revisions. Whenever you update a document, it has to uploaded as a new project and you have to resend the invites to your translators who may already be halfway through with the old file.

Hence, if getting last minute changes is part of your translation routine, get a translation software with smarter, more intuitive revision features.

Summary

Having a translation management system is ideal for small to large companies with plans to expand their business overseas and will have a bulk load of content to translate and market.

Knowing how to choose the right translation software for your company is equally important because the wrong choice could be counterproductive. While going through the selection process, you should:

  1. know what your team needs
  2. narrow down your choices based on these needs
  3. try out the remaining choices if possible

To help you in your search for the right translation solution, we'd like to invite you try Redokun for free and experience all the features I've mentioned in the previous section.

We hope you find what you are looking for!

Till next time,

Shu Ni

Shu Ni Lim
Shu Ni Lim

Shu Ni has worked as a marketing executive for various global consumer electronics brands before shifting her focus to content writing.

Now at Redokun, Shu Ni hopes to create meaningful content for multilingual needs by utilizing her expertise in linguistics and graphic design.

The easiest way to translate your documents. Free for 14 days.