Localization represents a pathway to your business goals, while translation software is the vehicle you drive to achieve them.
While we've talked extensively about the best translation software in this article, there is still a question of choosing the right vehicle out of so many options.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, try looking at your current workflow and identify what could be improved. Then, you may find it easier to match them to the right solutions.
For starters, here are 11 useful features businesses should consider in a translation software program, which are based on common translation problems our clients have encountered.
These features can generally be sorted into 5 groups:
- Computer-Assisted Translation Software Tools
- Project Management Tools
- Workflow Automation
- Technical Issues
What kind of translation software do I need?
The scope of the term "translation software" is quite broad. However, if you're running a global business or marketing team, you need more than a basic language translator software like Google Translate.
If you're not using translation software - here's why you should consider it.
You need a program that is scalable to growing project demands as your business expands into new territories. Thus, what you're likely looking for is a translation management system (TMS).
This type of translation software combines 3 main functions to help you coordinate multiple projects more smoothly and optimize your language assets for long-term use. They are computer-assisted translation, project management, and workflow automation.
Computer-assisted translation (CAT) simply refers to the use of computer aids in the translation process. These aids come in the form of reference phrases and sentences that pop up as suggestions when a person is translating a text.
Whether that's you or someone else on your team, the person won't have to rely solely on sheer brainpower to produce high quality translations, which cuts down the time and mental energy spent on a project.
Translation suggestions can come from different sources, including:
1. Translation Memories
Translation memories are segments of text you have previously translated and approved. The software automatically keeps every translation in a database and retrieves them for you whenever you're working on similar content.
While using the software's editor, you can click on the suggested translations, which usually appears beside the segments they have matched with, and make changes if needed.
This feature is not only useful for saving time but also for keeping the language consistent across all your business assets.
Whether you're translating a catalog or a presentation, the brand voice and special jargons must be constant, which isn't possible if the same thing is translated in three different ways in three different documents.
To learn more, check out our article on how translation memories can help create a more productive, sustainable, and scalable work cycle (complete with visuals if that's your thing).
2. Machine Translation Engines
Machine translations are generated by artificial intelligence based on specific algorithms as explained in this article. They are not always perfect but they can help you make faster progress in translating both simple and complicated content.
They can automatically translate an entire document in an instant so that you can at least start translating with some references at your disposal rather than a blank slate.
With simple sentences, machine translation engines can even predict translations with great accuracy so you can use them word for word.
Each translation management system offers its own combination of machine translation engines, which are usually powered by a third-party service provider, such as Google Translate and Baidu.
One thing to consider when choosing your translation software is whether their built-in machine translators support the language pairs you will be using regularly.
More on this: Here's where you could read more about the best Machine Translation Software on the market.
Localizing your business involves more than just translating. As a team leader, you might also be responsible for coordinating tasks, sending documents and memos, and keeping track of important deadlines.
Optimizing your workflow, in this case, means establishing an efficient mechanism of storing and communicating information.
A translation management system is essentially an ecosystem that supports all the processes related to localization. Everything you need and everything you need to do can be done on the platform.
Here are some project management features you should look for in a translation software tool:
3. User Management
You will probably have multiple people working on the same project, and sometimes it may also involve external parties, especially if you hire freelancers or agencies to translate a document.
Your translation software will contain confidential company data and linguistic assets, so you want to be able to assign user roles and permissions to avoid your data being misused.
For example, on Redokun, translators have access to your translation memories while using the software as part of your team but they won't be able to download them for further use.
This may seem like a small distinction but it helps communicate role assignments more clearly while protecting your data from third parties.
4. Progress Tracker
Running several translation projects with overlapping timelines may cause you to lose sight of important milestones and deadlines due to information overload.
Most translation management systems come with a progress tracker so you can view the progress of all projects at a glance. It's a basic feature for sure but one that's essential to a stress-free workflow.
Instead of starting your workday tangled up in a planner or Google calendar, imagine being able to stay in the loop simply by logging on to the translation software.
5. Digital Filing System
Folders are just much easier to navigate compared to a long, indefinite list of documents.
If you're using a software to store your translated business assets, it's helpful to be able to organize them using a filing system that makes the most sense for your workflow.
Maybe you'd like to group documents in folders based on the brand, language, project year, or person in charge. Having a filing system in your translation software saves your time by simplifying the way documents can be found and retrieved.
Localization is not a one-person job. Thus, having collaboration features in a translation software facilitates the flow of information between team members in different departments or even regions.
6. Collaborative Translation
You might enlist several people to work on different languages for the same project, or you might want to request a second opinion on a translation. Translation management systems can serve as a platform for that.
Rather than painstakingly creating email threads or setting up Google Docs, you can simply share translations and request edits from your collaborators all within the translation program.
All you need is your collaborators' email address to send them an invite, and everyone can proceed to collaborate on a translation (without downloading additional software if you're using a cloud-based system).
Translation software tools with automation features reduce the amount of tedious manual work in the translation process. They can help you save time on simple but repetitive actions like copy-pasting information, as well as complex tasks like preparing a translation for distribution.
Additionally, here's how to improve your translation workflow even more.
7. Translation Editor
A translation editor is an interface where you can focus on translating content with the most important tools at your disposal. For cloud-based translation software, this could also be a web editor you can access anywhere online.
Most editors organize your content into smaller sequences to be translated so you don't have to do it yourself using a spreadsheet.
Some even show a preview on the side while translation is in progress so the translator can understand the context and review where a sequence would appear on a page.
There is also the choice to view your linguistic assets, such as your translation memories or Google Translate, while you're in the translation editor. You don't have to switch between tabs or programs to find the information you need, which creates a more seamless translation process through automation.
Another automation feature is pre-translation, which automatically translates entire documents using your translation memories, machine translator, or some other database before you start working on a project.
When you have a 20-page document that would be converted into hundreds of text sequences for translation, it’s much faster to pre-translate the document so the translator has something to work with immediately.
No time is wasted on copy-pasting translations from elsewhere, one sequence at a time.
9. File Formatting
One of the biggest challenges in localizing content is preserving the formatting of a document after translating the content. From missing fonts to spacing inconsistencies, the translated document could contain many issues that need to be reviewed and fixed before it gets delivered to the market.
That’s why you should consider a translation software program that automatically maintains the formatting of your files, whether it’s a simple Word document or a PowerPoint presentation, or even a sophisticated InDesign file.
Think about the most common file formats that your business uses. Then, choose a translation program that provides automation in generating a clean copy of the translated document, which should be ready to be downloaded once translation is complete.
Diving into the technical side of things, these translation software features can help you anticipate and overcome potential problems while using the tool.
Support can come in different forms to address your questions and doubts when using a translation management system. There are:
- Live Chat
- Email Support
- FAQ and Resource Library
The availability of these support tools tells you how easily you would be able to work with the service provider. It could make or break your work cycle by if you run into problems with your software.
Many free open-source translation software have little to no support, or they're slower at responding to your queries. Your business needs access to a responsive support team because the translation software will become an integral part of your daily operations.
Hence, don't just shop for a good software - look for good, reliable service that comes with the software!
In addition, find a translation software that is easy to use and understand. You can minimize the time and effort it takes to familiarize yourself with the interface.
11. Data Security
Any data you store on a computer, let alone in a translation software, is prone to security risks.
If you're looking for a translation management system for enterprise use, it goes without saying that you would need to look into the software's policies and practices on data security, which can usually be found on a page like this.
Before taking the plunge into a specific tool, review how they store and encrypt your business assets. While there's no software that can guarantee 100% data security, transparency is always the best policy.
If you need assistance in choosing a translation software that would fit your needs - here is a detailed guide with all the questions you need to ask yourself and your team before you commit.
Now that we've established the 11 essential features of a translation tool, you can give them a test run through a free trial with Redokun. Thanks for reading!
Till next time,