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Translation Management System: A Simple Guide for Businesses (2024)

Translation management system guide


  1. What is a translation management system?
  2. Do I need a translation management system?
  3. Addressing common concerns about implementing a TMS
  4. How does my company benefit from using a TMS?
  5. What can my team do with a TMS?
  6. What are my choices for translation management software in 2021?
  7. How to choose a translation management system?
  8. Why choose Redokun?

What is a translation management system?

What is translation management system

A translation management system (TMS) is a type of software you can use to coordinate, automate, and streamline your localization processes from content creation to publication.

Creating multilingual websites, documents, and applications for your business is less confusing and messy with a TMS because your localization teams would have a dedicated platform where they may:

  • congregate according to their projects & language pairs
  • communicate about project developments & ideas
  • create consistent translations using built-in resources
  • circulate content quickly once they have been translated

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Do I need a translation management system?

Common issues when you are not using translation management system

Generally, the people who use TMS solutions are companies that market their products and services to a worldwide audience.

In doing so, their main goal is to establish efficient translation and localization workflows.

A telltale sign of an ineffective workflow is when projects keep losing momentum because the team spends a significant amount of time on manual tasks, such as:

  • copy-pasting data for translation
  • searching for past information
  • trying to bounce back from miscommunication
  • keeping track of different stakeholders involved in different projects and ensuring they are up to speed on their respective responsibilities

If you think these issues apply to your current workflow, then yes, your business could benefit from using a translation management system.

Even more, here's are some tips on how to improve your translation workflow.

Of course, your managers and colleagues might have some doubts about how practical it would be to implement a TMS. Let’s address some common concerns in the next section.

Addressing common concerns about implementing a TMS

1. Will it be expensive to maintain a TMS?

The cost of maintaining a TMS will indeed take up part of your localization budget. However, at the same time, it actually reduces the energy and expenses you put into other aspects of localization.

Without software aid, it might be difficult to track and control the flow of information across different projects, especially where there are varying levels of complexity and recurring content.

Simply put, the right translation management system for your business shouldn’t eat into your budget. Its very purpose is to help you eliminate the costs incurred from delays, manual interventions, and repetitive translations.

2. Isn’t it better for us to stick with what already works?

This is a common question that pops up whenever a team is already comfortable with their manual workflow and sees no urgency for change.

Since they would need to make time to learn the new system and migrate their existing data there, a TMS might feel like an unnecessary fix.

However, there is one crucial question to consider regarding the health of your systems: When your business grows, would your current workflow be able to accommodate the increase in data, projects, and resources efficiently?

Manual processes are not sustainable because they rely heavily on people to go over the most mundane of the details. As such, they will likely create more issues when your list of localization-related tasks expands.

Hence, despite the temporary pains of onboarding, getting a TMS offers better gains because it safeguards your company against the costs of recovering from a poor system.

3. Will it be difficult to learn how to use a TMS

Some translation management systems are more complex than others. They need to be this way because they cater to companies with highly technical needs and specialized workflows.

So yes, there is a steep learning curve to these advanced, top-of-the-line software (and the advantages they bring are absolutely worth the effort). However, your company might not need them at all.

Instead, the right TMS for your team could just be a simpler tool that supports what you do without adding too many advanced but unneeded features.

After all, why order a full meal when you only need a snack? There is plenty of translation management software designed for localization teams that just want something easy to learn and navigate; something that brings value to their work without complicating things.

The key is to understand your team’s needs. Later on, we’ll talk more about what you should consider when choosing a TMS.

How does my company benefit from using a TMS?

Benefits when using translation management software

1. Automated Processes

With various automation procedures, your TMS works in the background so your team members always have all the relevant data and documents without having to ask around or chase for them.

Once your manager invites your preferred translators or reviewers to a document, they simply need to accept and sign into the TMS. From there, they gain limited access to the company’s language assets (e.g. previously approved translations). They can be used to pre-translate parts of a document - or even the entire thing - in just one click of a button.

2. Optimized Resources

Your TMS contains built-in resources like glossaries, translation memories, and other linguistic assets. They create a more productive translation process with solid quality control measures which reduces localization costs and time to market.

In fact, recent translation statistics have shown that many companies have successfully reduced their localization budget by a stunning 90% after using TMS technologies.

3. Better Communication

Discussions among team members and related departments will feel much more seamless - even when a project requires a custom workflow that adds new roles or vendors to the mix.

What can my team do with a translation management system?

Translation management software combines an array of tools that provides value to your collaborators at each stage of localization. Here are the core features:

1. Manage projects and teams from anywhere

Improve collaboration and communication with cloud based translation management software

The management capabilities of a TMS address the logistical issues that a localization manager or an admin would commonly face.

Their biggest headache often stems from having to coordinate the diversity of roles and data involved in developing multilingual content. The end result is usually a confusing clutter of spreadsheets, emails, and shared files.

With a cloud-based TMS, managers can easily create separate communication channels for different teams based on the projects and language pairs they’re working on.

Without ever switching platforms, your managers will be able to:

  • gather a team quickly by invitation
  • monitor and report on the status of all ongoing projects
  • store and manage the company’s translation assets, as well as permissions to access them

2. Create translated versions of your documents quickly

Preserve file formatting with translation management system

Documents, websites, and applications are created using different programs. So when it comes to translating them, there is a matter of converting the content into a file format that your translators can work with (usually a spreadsheet).

If these conversions aren’t done well, the process often breaks the design or even the document itself - at which point you’d start losing even more time and money trying to restore the original formattings.

With a TMS, however, all you need to do is upload the content in its original file format. When your team has finished translating the content on the TMS, you can download the translations with the original styles and formatting intact.

For example, if you upload a PowerPoint presentation to your TMS, you'd be able to download the same PowerPoint presentation in a new language once your team has finished translating the text. That means you can quickly produce the same document in multiple languages without breaking a sweat (or breaking down).

3. Translate your documents in context

Redokun web editor preview

Your translation management platform also has a dedicated workspace for your translators, editors, or reviewers. It usually comes in the form of an in-context translation interface that automatically pulls up the text for the specific translation project they’ve been assigned to.

With page previews on one side of the interface, your translators would be able to visualize and understand the content better. This setup is considerably more conducive than translating from within a static spreadsheet where the person would mostly be “blind” to the context.

Even more, besides in-context translation - translation management software such as Redokun offer you integrated collaboration features that will help you speed up your translation workflow even more.

4. Boost productivity with computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools

Translation management system integrated features

As you work within the translation editor, your TMS automatically manages your key linguistic resources behind the scenes and generates translation suggestions when needed. These resources include:

  • Translation memories (TM), which is a database of all the translations that your company has approved before and can be reused or restructured for other contexts. Using TM guarantees that you never pay to translate the same string twice. And every newly completed project contributes to your TM, making it a key asset that grows in value with each cycle (here is how translation memory software works).
  • Machine translations (MT), which uses artificial intelligence to translate text almost instantaneously. MT is one of the fastest growing translation industry technologies in 2021. While certainly not perfect yet, MT can be used as “scaffolding” that gives your translators direction when translating a complicated piece of text or getting started with a huge document (wonder no more whether MT will replace human translators or not - read all about it).
  • Glossaries and dictionaries, or any other language-related resources. They help your translators make fast and accurate decisions regarding word choice, ensuring consistency across all projects under the same brand and target language.

5. Build more connected workflows with TMS integrations

Connected workflow with integrated translation management system

You may connect your translation management software with your company’s existing tech stack so that there is rarely an obvious break in the flow of information from one process to another.

Simply put, the connectivity of your systems drives the efficiency of people who work in distinct roles. Through versatile integrations and connectors, a TMS bridges the processes of your developers, creators, translators, reviewers, and so on.

Another aspect of connectivity shows when you plan to work with an external vendor in your translation supply chain.

While the vendor may use a different translation software tool, you can still collaborate seamlessly by using your TMS to export your content to a standard exchange file (usually a XLIFF file).

What are my choices for translation management software in 2021?

The full range of features you get to enjoy with your TMS depends on the service provider. Here are some of the best translation management tools for businesses in 2021.

  1. Redokun - a collaborative TMS that's scalable and beginner-friendly
  2. SDL Trados - a TMS that's widely used by translators and agencies for its advanced computer-assisted translation functions
  3. Lokalise - a TMS with diverse integrations for localizing mobile apps, games, and websites
  4. Smartling - a TMS with sophisticated plugins and integrations for enterprise-level needs
  5. memoQ - a collaborative TMS built for Windows users

If you'd like to learn more about the latest localization tools, be sure to check out our master list of translation software for every need.

How do I choose a translation management system?

How to choose translation management system

Choosing a TMS starts with understanding your team’s routines and needs. Here are some questions that can help you identify the best translation management system for your business.

1. What type of content will I be localizing?

Some TMS are built for translating documents, whereas others are better for website and software localization. By determining the content your team will be translating the most, you can start narrowing down your options by their supported content formats.

Here are some guides about how to translate Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, Articulate Rise 360 files, and FrameMaker files.

2. How will translations be done?

Hybrid workflows are the norm for many businesses engaged in localization. Consider the people who will be translating, reviewing, and proofreading the content. They could change with every project and involve your in-house team, external vendors, agencies, or even a combination of all.

As such, the TMS you choose should be able to support your workflow even when additional roles and people are added to the mix. One of the ways to ensure this is to find out how team management works on a particular TMS.

3. Do I have any existing platforms that need to be integrated with the TMS?

As mentioned earlier, the connectivity of your systems is key to increasing productivity. Therefore, you’ll also need to determine whether a TMS can be connected with the current tools you use, such as content management systems and e-commerce platforms.

If you don’t have any, that’s great! The TMS you choose will be the first step towards establishing a productive localization ecosystem for your business.

4. How will my translations and documents be stored?

Most of the top translation management systems of 2021 are cloud-based. This means your source files and translations are stored in a secure online repository, which is connected to your translation workspaces that would also be on the same online platform.

Of course, the alternative is to save them in a local storage or server, which is usually the case if you choose a desktop translation software.

However, cloud solutions are usually more preferable because your managers would be able to access and update the files, then assign them to your teams, simply by logging onto their TMS account on any computer. And each team may also do the same to work on their respective projects.

5. Does the TMS offer responsive technical support?

It’s impossible to anticipate all the issues you might encounter when implementing your projects through a TMS. However, it’s possible to minimize the negative impact they have on your workflow with a reliable support team.

If your team is totally new to localization software, you should find a TMS that provides responsive, hands-on support when you need it.

If curious to read even more - here's a detailed guide about how to choose a translation software along with 6 crucial questions that'll help you make the decision.

Why choose Redokun as your translation management system?

Redokun is a cloud-based translation management platform that helps localization teams of all sizes translate and collaborate more intuitively.

Our goal has always been to design a tool that’s easy to learn and use, especially for translating documents that are commonly used in business, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, InDesign, and others.

More importantly, our TMS also simplifies the most tedious processes in localization. These include applying revisions to your source documents without hassle even when translation work in multiple languages is well underway.

Regardless of your people’s experience level with a TMS, Redokun is designed to feel simple and familiar from the initial implementation while still being scalable to the demands of future expansion.

Click here to start a free trial of Redokun today. We’re ready to help if you have any questions.

Happy translating,

Shu Ni

Further reads:
- The Essential TMS Features (and why these features matter for every business out there)
- The TMS benefits from a business perspective (and how to determine which TMS is the right one for your business)
- How to Choose a TMS (and how to determine whether you're using the wrong one or not)
- 13 Top Translation Management Software on the Market (with a practical filter to help you choose)

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