The translation industry is known for being unpredictable, many times new projects come in waves. One week is slow and quiet and the next one is so busy and fast that you don’t even realise that is almost the weekend.
When everybody remembers that it’s almost the end of the month and they forgot to send the files for translation, things can get very busy and stressful and right at the point, we PMs forget the importance of reference material.
But what is reference material? Well… this term covers a very wide variety of files that are normally sent to the translators to help them understand the source material or the subject matter of the project, and to be consistent with the previous translated material. They can be Translation Memories, Terminology Databases, previous translations (for example, this can be very useful when translating manuals as well as marketing material) or visual material, such as pictures, CAD drawings and so on.
These files can be supplied by the end clients when requesting a job, however this is a very rare occurrence, as PMs need to ask for them every time a project goes ahead. It is true that translators should do their own research and spend time looking for what they are translating to better understand the subject matter, however having all the files ready for a project can speed up the whole process a lot, improving the delivery deadline and translation too.
It is the classic PPPPP rule – Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!
Unfortunately, this step is often overlooked in the fast-paced industry of translation. I believe that agencies should take more care of storing and using properly all the reference material that is necessary for a project. An example are TDs which are not as widely used as TMs mainly because looking after terminology is a long process compared to simply throwing everything in a TM and then ask the translators to search for the terms they may need. Also, to create TDs, you need to make a small investment and spend time researching what the preferred and correct terminology is. On a positive note though, the programmes needed to maintain them are very cheap and are already included in other main packages, such as Excel and Trados Multiterm.
All in all, I believe that taking some time to look after terminology and do some research to provide more context are a crucial step to improve the quality of translation and make a translation project flow smoothly. This will also avoid receiving negative feedback mainly based on terminology and a ton of questions from the translators! 😊
Sometimes it’s hard to keep on top of everything. We always have a lot going on: very long lists of emails to answer, people waiting for us, the phone ringing and just things to do - working as PM is also this. For how much you try to be organised, there is always that new project or query that pops up and makes everything else slide on the bottom of the list for the day.
What I found particularly challenging when I first started managing my own projects and clients, is that every day I would find myself in front of this never-ending list of emails all related to different projects, coming from translators, clients and colleagues. I have experimented several techniques, like sorting out one email at a time, so that I did not have to make a list. Then, I tried to go through them all at the same time and then check them again putting together a list; however, I found that some of these, let’s call them, techniques made me feel every more anxious and less organised.
So, after experimenting and failing and experimenting again, I finally discovered what works for me in order to organise my email inbox and set my tasks for the day! My strategy now consists in having my trusted diary next to me and going through my emails, writing down a task only when needed. Therefore, if it’s a quick email that I need to reply to, I will just do it, but if I need to check 3000 words, I will add a task to the list. Please don’t think that my lists look all beautifully written (see Instagram *coughs* fake *coughs* diaries); they actually look like a mess, but the important thing is that they make sense to me!
This all may seem very silly to you, but understanding that LISTS ARE GOOD has been crucial to me. To do this you do not need anything fancy, so no fancy and expensive glittery diaries (maybe with some unicorns :)), no super rose gold pens or anything like that. You will only need a pen (that works, possibly) and a piece of paper to put down what needs to be done for the day.
Another important part that I wanted to focus on is that I had to learn how to prioritise tasks throughout the day, i.e. understanding what needs to be done first and what can be done later or even tomorrow. This is one of the most important sides of project management, as well as, time management. You need to understand what’s more urgent otherwise you will have clients chasing deliveries, translators waiting to start and a general sense of anxiety (at least for me).
We all know that learning new languages is always exciting, but we also know that keeping them alive is not always easy if we don’t get to practice them every day. That’s why, even though I had previously studied Spanish for five years and got a DELE certificate in Spanish, last year I decided to start ‘refreshing’ my Spanish.
This opportunity came around when I started working as a PM and the company where I work now offered to pay for my course. Being Italian, this is a very interesting option, as it is quite rare that companies offer to pay for your education or personal development in Italy. Therefore, I welcomed this new chance to know more about the Spanish language and culture without thinking too much about it.
I re-started learning Spanish last year in September and I felt quite nervous about getting down to practice it again, but week after week, I felt more comfortable and confident about it. This has a lot to do with the fact that Spanish and Italian are very similar and they share part of the vocabulary, while for English native speakers, learning Spanish could be a bit more of a challenge.
In any case, the Spanish course has been like a breath of fresh air for me compared to the Masters course that I finished not long ago. I really enjoyed it and it had a positive impact both on my mind and on my work. I now feel more free and confident both checking and translating from Spanish as well as sure that my knowledge of that language is up to a high standard. Also, re-learning this language has allowed me to have more flexibility in terms of thinking and considering different perspectives.
I would recommend to anyone to attend a language course, if their daily schedule allows them to.
It opens your mind and provides much more flexibility and happiness (at least to me).
When looking around on the internet to find inspiration and suggestions regarding how a subtitling project can be structured, I only managed to find very confused instructions and even more confused workflows. At uni, we talked about ‘templates’, ‘corporate videos’, etc., but none of these very clear terms were mentioned in blogs online.
For this reason, I thought of writing down a way to provide subtitles, which is very simple and linear, at least from my point of view. First of all, to implement this workflow, you will need to know how to work with subtitling programmes, as well as, having a decent understanding of subtitling theory and practice.
1 - THE SCRIPT