Between Outsourcing and Automation
With its own education program “Plunet Academy”, Plunet is supporting education and research at selected universities in many different ways. In a joint effort with the University of Saarland, a survey was sent out to the translation departments of more than 100 of the largest companies and government departments on the subject of “Project management software for in-house translation departments “ within the framework of a current degree thesis.
The aim of the survey was to establish the status quo in terms of distribution and requirements for project management software. Replies received from the companies - all of which are global players listed on the stock exchange - strongly confirmed the already familiar picture of an industry shaped by increased cost and time pressures and the associated need for outsourcing. It was found that all of the in-house translation departments in the survey outsource work, regardless of whether they are non-commercial government departments and organizations or corporate translation departments. More than 50 percent of the respondents indicated that their entire language needs were outsourced, or that they did without professional quality translations altogether for the reasons mentioned. It is somewhat understandable that some companies will fall back on their own employees with multi-language skills when translation work is required. However, seen purely from a business point of view, this approach cuts costs in exactly the wrong place - i.e. at the quality end - and the translations still have to be paid for, even if it involves taking the form of taking employees away from their usual duties.
A current snapshot of the remaining nearly 50 percent of companies and authorities/government departments which have a dedicated translation department reveals two quite different trends, with the current situation ranging from technological and corporate disinterest to exemplary innovation leadership and performance-oriented procedures. In order to assess the situation fairly, it is of course always important to take into account the different basic requirements of non-commercial authorities and organizations and the diametrically opposed approach of profit and growth-driven commercial enterprises. It is a well-known fact that a competitive environment exerts pressure - as does the need for constant development and continuous improvement.
Generally, though, it is possible to make the following key statements and resulting conclusions for producers of project management software for the translation industry:
1. More than 50 percent of all participating in-house translation departments do not have a software-based project management system - neither in the form of an off-the-shelf industry solution or a dedicated in-house development - for planning, controlling and handling translation and localisation processes.
2. In terms of the respondents who do use project management software, there is further variation in terms of where the software came from: around 50 percent of the software solutions used are tools which have been developed internally. The remaining 50 percent use specialist software solutions which have been specially developed for the translation industry.
3. Web-based browser applications, which offer time and geographic independence for all parties involved in a project are clearly gaining ground. At present, non web-based client/server solutions still represent the majority of the systems used with a share of 54 percent. Pure desktop installations which allow no collaboration between project members are increasingly losing in importance.
The surveyed in-house translation departments also gave a fairly clear indication of their most important requirements for project management software. The following basic features were seen as being important or having above-average importance by all of the surveyed translation departments:
1. Clearly laid out and transparent deadline management 100 %
2. Transparent document management 81%
3. Freely definable user roles (project manager, translator, proof-reader etc.) 80%
4. Integration with translation memory systems and Outlook Web Access (web version of the Microsoft Outlook email client) 65%
5. Web-based project management platform 63%
In conclusion, corporate in-house translation departments display a high level of interest in innovative software solutions for optimising day-to-day translation work. Accordingly, web-based project management solutions have a good chance if they offer intelligent integration with communication and translation software and keep a sharp focus on the pillars of successful project management - “clearly laid out and transparent management of deadlines and documents”.
Source: ClientSide News Magazine, March , 2009