I always liked the moment when a new translation project came to our company. It usually took some time for the e-mail with a big attachment to come through. But we all knew it’s a nice piece of work that will keep us busy for the coming weeks. That was 15 years ago.
The world has changed since then and a typical translation project has changed over the years. Now, it is usually small, rushed, cheap has little context and needs many language combinations. But it still requires the same amount of administrative work as in the past. It will not be profitable unless you adapt your project management to this new reality. Luckily, there is a lot you can do. Let me suggest 4 steps.
Sending and receiving files, writing e-mails, producing purchase orders are all time-consuming tasks. They do not create any added value. Just cut them! Use automated workflow mechanisms. They take care of moving the files between suppliers and from one production step to the next. They can do it faultlessly 24/7. Purchase orders can also be prepared automatically by applying a document template and filling it with project data. The good thing is that if the system does it for you, there will be no human errors in it either.
This is one of the most time-consuming tasks for a project manager. He needs to find which vendors are potentially suitable for a given job. Then he checks their availability and finally secures their participation in the project. It can cost hours on the phone.
You have to change it! By applying different filters, the system can preselect the project candidates. Then it sends out requests to check vendor availability. You have to be careful, though. You do not want to spam dozens of vendors with the same job offer. They would start ignoring you pretty quickly. A much better idea is to send the job offers in cascades. Only a few vendors are contacted at a time, starting with those who match the project criteria the best. If no one from the first group takes the job, the next small vendor group can receive the offer. That will make all the difference. You will assign projects quickly, to the best available vendors and without disappointing those who are not selected.
If you are a financial or managing director, you are typically good at math. If you are a project manager, you are typically good at languages but not math. It’s not a problem anymore. You can integrate your system with a CAT tool which will analyse your project. It then passes all the calculations to your project management system automatically. It will insert the right numbers on the revenue and cost sides of the project. All you need to do is check whether the margin is right. Your system can then easily handle the calculations of CAT discounts, percentages and totals.
Great customer service does not mean that you have to do everything for your client. Why not engage with your clients through a dedicated online Customer Portal? That way, your clients define the project (languages, services, etc.) the way they really want it. Additionally, they will be able to do it at any time of day or night. You will be available 24/7 and new projects can be created in your system automatically. Moreover, you can deliver projects back to your client through the same Portal as soon as they are ready.
Different projects allow for different process optimizations. In some of them, you will only automate the administrative tasks. For others, you would automate the analysis and creation of a project in a CAT tool. In others still, you would use automatic delivery through the Customer Portal. There will also be projects that will become your favorites. The ones where you will link all these automations together. Everything will happen automatically without your project managers’ involvement. It’s up to you to decide which projects are automated and to what extent. By adopting the automation culture, every project should become profitable. It will make you so happy again to see new projects arriving, regardless of budget or size.