Translation Management Systems 101 - Everything You Need to Know

by Shu Ni Lim Shu Ni Lim 7 minutes to read

visual representation of translation management system


What is a Translation Management System?

A translation management system (TMS) is a centralized platform that helps you organize and automate the tasks involved in a localization project.

The platform is simultaneously:

  • a management software,
  • an asset database,
  • and a collaboration tool.

Using built-in linguistic databases, translation management systems facilitate speedy content translation, while giving their users control over the quality and consistency.

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about localizing content?

If your answer is "chaos" or any variations of "ughhhh", let's dive deeper into how a translation management system can ease the pain help you.

Modernizing Your Localization Workflow

Localization takes team effort, which raises questions on how to coordinate the activities of different parties from translating to marketing. The old school solution was to use emails and spreadsheets.

However, the entire process took more time than necessary and would easily spiral out of control for larger-scale projects.

Here's how your translation workflow might look like before and after employing a translation management system.

Translation Workflow without a translation management system Translation Workflow with a translation management system

Using the traditional translation workflow

1. spend more time and money on translations

2. underutilize a valuable resource: translation data accumulated from previous work.

On the other hand, translation management systems help your company

1. build and utilize a database of approved translations to reuse and maintain consistency

2. coordinate and communicate with the team without having to fuss over the details.

This is because every time there is a new revision or new content to translate, you start from square one. Communication among team members is also asynchronous. By having a centralized project platform, you don't have to worry about updating your backlogs manually or ensuring everyone is in the right email thread.

Benefits of Translation Management System

An ideal translation management system provides three main features in elevating your localization workflow.

key features of translation management systems

What can you do with them, you may ask?

1. Establish an Integrated Online Office

Think of a translation management system as an online office. You go in, access the files you need, allocate tasks, and liaise with your team to get things done. This can all be accomplished without using spreadsheets or sending back-and-forth emails.

Once you upload a file, the in-house or outsourced translator you invite can start translating a file immediately using the web editor. While they are doing so, the software saves and organizes the data into neat categories in the background.

The translation management system is essentially an office that is self-maintaining. It automatically reflects any changes made to project and record each new milestone. Anyone who has access to a project file can always keep up with the latest developments.

2. Achieve Greater Productivity

Your team can translate faster with two important tools: Translation Memory and Machine Translation. Both are integrated into most translation management systems.

Translation Memory is a unique database that holds all your company's previously translated segments and sentences from other projects.

If you have a continuous stream of content to localize, leveraging your translation memories is a good way to ensure the voice of your brand is consistent across all copies.

When you're working on new content, the translation management system suggests past translations that can be reused or repurposed. For example, this is how it would appear on Redokun's web editor:

redokun translation management system example

Furthermore, you can also quickly pre-translate large volumes of text using machine translation tools that are often built into translation management systems. Click here to learn more about translation memories.

Another tool that boosts translation productivity is Machine Translation, which uses artificial intelligence to translate a file.

Instead of doing everything from scratch, many marketing firms use machine translation to pre-translate large volumes of text instantly. Then, all they need is a good editor on their team to polish up the copy and give it a human touch.

Do you know what are the top machine translation providers besides Google Translate? Find out here.

3. Cost Effective Localization

Translation is undeniably expensive, but you can make the most out of each completed translation by saving the data as translation memories. This way, you'll never pay twice to translate the same sentence or paragraph.

At least 50% of the work is done when you pair translation memories with machine translation. All that's left to do is to proofread and polish the suggested translations.

In these cases, you can often ask someone on your team to do it rather than a professional translator who will cost more. This can be a colleague, a vendor, a business partner, or even a friend.

The whole process would cost 0.02% of what you would usually pay a professional translator.

4. Seamless Collaboration

When you outsource a job to an external translation vendor, you can still work with them even if they use a different translation software.

Some translation management systems like Redokun have an export function that converts your content into a XLIFF file. This is the standard format used to pass data among translation tools.

Your vendor can import the XLIFF file into their preferred translation program and start translating.

With this seamless export/import feature, you can avoid running into document compatibility issues that may set a project back.

5. Perform Quick Revisions

What happens when you revise a document when the translation process is already in full swing? Normally, you might need to create a new project and start with a clean slate.

However, with the right translation management system, you can simply upload the revised content without losing any progress. The software will simply highlight the new text for further action.

This intuitive revision feature is available on Redokun. Learn more.

6. Generate Automated Output

Once a translation is complete, what's next? You might send the translations off to a graphic designer or manually transfer the text into a new template yourself. Either way, you are spending additional resources to prepare the translated document for distribution.

Things can get pretty redundant if you have to prepare the same document for multilingual markets. However, you can automate and simplify this process by using a translation management system that preserves the formatting of your document.

The only finger lifting you would need to do is clicking on the "download" button.

How does a Translation Management System work?

As an example, here is how your workflow would look like with Redokun, a cloud-based translation management system. It takes just 4 simple stages to get to project completion.

Stage 1: Create a Project

Upload a file, then select the source language and target language(s).

redokun upload file

Stage 2: Invite Team Members

Invite your colleagues, business partners, or anyone of your choice to translate the file. They will receive the invitation through their email.

redokun invite translator

Stage 3: Pre-Translate

This is an optional step where you can pre-translate a document using your translation memories or machine translation. The person you invite to work on this project will only need to proofread and edit, as opposed to working from the bottom-up.

redokun pre-translation stage

Stage 4: Download and Publish

Once the translation is complete, download a clean copy of the translated file with a click of a button.

redokun translation complete

Choosing the Right Translation Management System

There are many translation management systems on the market today. When choosing one for your business, it's useful to consider these four factors.

  1. Ease of Use
  2. Features
  3. Technical Support
  4. Free Trial

1. Ease of Use

Some translation management systems are more complicated than others. Do you have time to train your team to use the software? If not, choose a TMS with a clear and user-friendly interface.

You can use free trials to get the full experience of operating translation management systems. Try Redokun for free and see how you like the interface.

2. Features

Talk to the people who will be using the system and identify their pain points. This will help you determine the essential features your team needs and narrow down your choices.

3. Technical Support

When you run into issues with the system, a good support team makes a world of difference. For many free or open-source translation management systems, tech support may be limited or non-existent.

Look into the provision of technical support that comes with your plan. This is crucial if the translation management system is going to be a significant part of your daily operations.

4. Free trial

At the end of the day, finding the right translation management system comes down to user experience. Before subscribing to a plan and increasing your costs prematurely, you can try most TMS for free to see what works for you and what doesn't.


A translation management system is the ultimate productivity booster for your localization workflow. Using the most advanced technology to localize content, you can reach your target audiences faster while keeping translation costs low.

Instead of taking our word for it, start a free trial of Redokun today and experience the changes firsthand.

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.