The release of XTRF 7 is just around the corner, and it brings many improvements, big and small. Smart Projects and memoQ users will surely notice an increase in the integration’s performance and reliability. Those who prefer Trados Studio will be happy to see that we now support the 2017 version. The introduction of JAVA 8 technology and a number of other fixes will contribute to improved security of the XTRF platform. The latest version will also have many new features. These elements make a big difference already, but what are the actual differences for the common user? What new elements will project managers see and value most in their day-to-day work? In this article, I’d like to focus on 3 new features that, in my opinion, bring project management in XTRF to a new, higher level.
A translation project is a sequence of multiple steps completed in succession. These projects usually have tight deadlines, because some requests are made with as short a turnaround time as possible. Therefore, each of those steps has a fixed (and often narrow) timeframe. If any of the steps takes longer than initially planned, it strongly influences the whole schedule, and puts deadlines at risk. This is why it is so important for project managers to control the timeliness of every single job in the project. In case of delays, they should also react as quickly as possible and adjust the schedule to new circumstances.
XTRF 7 addresses this need perfectly. In Smart Projects, project managers can now see planned and actual start & finish dates for all jobs and the project itself. If the actual start date of a job gets postponed according to the initial plan, XTRF will calculate a new, expected finish date for that job. If that new date exceeds the originally planned deadline, the project manager will be shown a warning. If the new date is acceptable for them, they can adjust it with one click. Otherwise, they know they should intervene and get in touch with their vendors.
This new feature is even more useful with the improved Gantt chart and its new display options: ‘Hide weekends’ and ‘Show only office hours’. It’s also worth mentioning that the time span of the Gantt chart can now be ranged from a 4-hour to 2-week view.
While some projects are deadline-oriented, others can put more emphasis on quality. It’s also a common practice in many translation agencies to verify, at least periodically, the quality of the translation provided by their linguists. A standard for doing this is a LISA evaluation form. When the focus is on quality, the role of the proofreader is extremely important, and so is their feedback. The LISA form and vendor evaluation are nothing new in XTRF, but the way they come together in XTRF 7 is.
Project or vendor managers can now design a process in Smart Projects to make evaluation a part of it. The vendors, typically proofreaders, will be able to evaluate one of the preceding jobs in the process, typically translation, with the use of the LISA evaluation form available for them in the Vendor Portal. Once the proofreading job is delivered and the feedback submitted through the form, XTRF will calculate the score of the translator and thus evaluate the quality of their work. The resulting score will also update their overall rating. Everything is made easily available for the proofreaders (even external ones), and requires little to no supervision from the project managers.
A good project manager always wants to be sure they get the right person for the job. Sometimes ‘right’ means ‘good’, sometimes it means ‘inexpensive’, and sometimes it could simply mean ‘with the relevant experience’. In Smart Projects all those criteria used to be verified automatically by the Vendor Selection Rules used in Job Offers. There is, however, one more criterion: ‘right’ should always mean ‘available’. XTRF 7 has got you covered.
In the newest version, project managers don’t need to worry about ‘spamming’ unavailable vendors with availability questions. Now, choosing a vendor means setting a start date and deadline, and letting XTRF 7 do the rest.
Some agencies don’t like bothering their partners when they’re on holidays, preferring not to contact unavailable vendors at all until they’re back to work. So if a vendor’s vacation coincides entirely with the job in question, they’ll be marked as such and left alone to enjoy it. Some, despite being on holidays, monitor their inboxes for heads-ups about new jobs they could potentially accept and complete after they return. Project managers (or whoever uses the Vendor Selection Rules) can now decide whether or not they want to send a job offer to a vendor on vacation at the moment of sending the offer. This is all possible with a simple filter setting in the newly-added Vendor Selection Rules.
As you can see, XTRF 7 gives you complete control over the timeline, quality control and who gets the job, allowing you clean up your timelines and run your business more efficiently.