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The 10 Best Translation Management Systems on the Market

If you’re here, you’re likely in need of a translation management system (TMS) and you’re investigating about the best translation management systems available on the market today. Maybe your organisation is expanding its reach into new markets, or maybe you’re just looking to improve your current localisation process. In any case, a TMS can save you a lot of time and money by streamlining your operations and giving you greater control over everything from costs to quality.

To help you find the right solution for your needs, we’ve put together a list of the 10 best translation management systems on the market today. We’ve looked at a variety of factors, including features, ease of use, price, reviews, and more, to come up with this comprehensive list.

How many translation management systems are there?

There are well over 160 technologies that assist with the management of translated content, but a mere handful of vendors occupies the biggest market share.

best translation management systems
Source: Nimdzi Insights

The sheer volume of options available can be overwhelming, and not all TMS solutions are created equal. To make your search easier, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best translation management systems, based on a variety of factors.

Without further ado, here are the 10 best TMS solutions on the market:

  1. Phrase (formerly Memsource)
  2. Smartcat
  3. Lokalise
  4. MemoQ
  5. XTM Cloud
  6. Transifex
  7. Smartling
  8. Crowdin
  9. Plunet
  10. Wordbee

Phrase (formerly Memsource)

In September 2022, Phrase and Memsource joined forces. The new Phrase brand brings together two of the leading providers of translation management systems, making it one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market.

The new Phrase Localization Suite combines well-established translation management capabilities with strong string management and innovative machine translation features. It brings together the features of the former Phrase – a highly integratable software localization platform – and of the former Memsource – the enterprise-ready translation management system.

What sets Phrase apart from the competition is its focus on making things easier for everyone involved in the localization process, regardless of the size of the team. From project managers and engineers to translators and reviewers, the platform is designed to save time and increase efficiency at every stage.

Some features that users loved about Memsource – carried over to Phrase – include:

  • The ability to create users with priorities
  • Clear analysis
  • The possibility of segmenting documents
  • Matches from the translation memory and the termbase
  • Extremely intuitive user interface
  • Robust translation memory and term base tools
  • Seamless transition between web-based and desktop editors
  • Quick set-up

Some features that users loved – also carried over to the new Phrase Localization Suite –include:

  • Easy switch between locales to make adjustments
  • User-friendly UI, very competent yet not distracting
  • Extremely fast and helpful customer support
  • Possibility to customise the platform to your business needs
  • Flat rate rather than user-based pricing (which favours scalability)
  • Good documentation for the API
  • Automatic capture UI screenshots to provide context for translators
  • Integrations with third-party apps like Slack

Smartcat

Smartcat began as a CAT tool but now offers a broad range of management features. For example, an optional add-on is the ‘Smartcat Autopilot’ feature through which their own employees will intervene for you if manual work on specific tasks is ever required.

On top of that, they offer smart linguist sourcing within a network of 500,000+ language professionals in their ‘Marketplace.’

Some users report a lack of user-friendliness as Smartcat are only browser-based. This means that there is no option to work offline and that it lacks the robustness, customisation, and functionality aspects that you would receive from installable desktop solutions.

However, separable features that users enjoy include:

  • An option for a free subscription
  • A marketplace of freelance translators
  • Good customer support
  • AI-powered machine translation integration

Lokalise

Lokalise offers access to a plethora of features, but the initial set-up is reportedly more difficult for development teams than other TMS solutions in the market.

Project management features are a little more restrictive, too. For example, users across a variety of review sites complain about unsupported file formats, a translation memory that isn’t context-based, performance issues with large files, and difficult-to-read reports.

However, Lokalise does offer 24/7 support and a variety of training and induction options to help users get set up. They also offer easy-to-use CMS integrations and the ability to connect to third-party apps such as Slack.

Other Lokalise advantages include:

  • Quick customer support
  • Content and design previews
  • The ability to add context to translations, either through description or screenshots
  • SDKs for iOS and Android
  • Easy batch-edit tools
  • Automatic language detection when importing all files

MemoQ

Though MemoQ‘s installable software is only compatible with Windows technology, they do offer access via a web interface as well as on-premises, public and private cloud-based options for data storage. 

Some users report that the software is somewhat underdeveloped, with the slightest error risking temporary system malfunction. However, others imply that, for the more “tech savvy” users, it is much easier to operate and therefore far more advantageous, too. And though the software comes with a higher price tag than other TMS solutions, MemoQ does provide many helpful operational functions.

These features include:

  • Comprehensive customer support
  • Customisable project management tools
  • Temporary licenses, issuable to translators
  • A wide variety of supported file types
  • Hands-free operations for translators, such as dictating text or giving voice commands
  • An extensive range of integrations, APIs, and SDKs

XTM Cloud

XTM Cloud offers the same comprehensive security options as MemoQ and its installable software is also only compatible with Windows. Though accessibility, in this case, can be somewhat restrictive, they do also offer a well-developed app for Android.

The system is reportedly a little more complex to use than others and lacks some flexibility. For example, the software doesn’t support many file types or provide offline project interaction. However, its features are extensive and targeted specifically at improving and streamlining localisation tasks.

Advantages of using XTM Cloud include:

  • Induction training for new users
  • Frequent system updates for bug fixes, software improvements, etc.
  • Segmenting large files for project ease
  • The ability to identify and classify errors in the translated text
  • Interactive previews
  • Customisable settings for default use, per client, and individual projects
  • Finance management features (for example, the ability to instantly create quotes based on predetermined price plans)

Transifex

Transifex offers a user-friendly experience, a cloud-based storage system and provides comprehensive online support.

Although a multitude of integrations are available, some users say that certain elements require too much manual involvement. For example, a lack of helpful keyboard shortcuts or the ability to automatically highlight untranslated content before assigning new projects. Furthermore, all subscriptions include word count limits that gradually approach the maximum amount whenever a word is translated into a new language. This could hinder the scalability of your business if the workload is large or the budget is tight.

In any case, most concur that the price is reasonable for the project management and translation features.

Some of the aspects that users enjoy include:

  • High visibility over projects (for example, updates on status, collaborators, deadlines, etc.)
  • Create your own APIs
  • Intuitive QA features, inclusive of lesser-spoken and right-to-left languages
  • Comprehensive report generation
  • Transifex Native (which streamlines developer input, too)

Smartling

Though Smartling doesn’t display prices on the website (you’ll have to request a demo lesson for that information!), many users seem to agree that the price tag is somewhat hefty for a TMS which is reportedly less intuitive than others.

And while their software is frequently updated, some users report that there is still a lack of interaction on the project management side. For example, the software doesn’t seem to offer status or collaborator updates and still requires you to add members to projects manually.

Smartling does have some innovative tools, however. One feature is the Transcreation tool which not only translates the words in a text, but the meaning, style, and tone, too. This way, content carries the same impact, globally, and ensures brand consistency.

Other advantages include:

  • Analytical data-point reporting
  • The ability to create a company Style Guide (for translators)
  • Integrated communication channels inc. Slack, Email, and Smartling’s own platform
  • Access to a network of high-quality LSPs
  • In-context previews

Crowdin

As of September 2022, Crowdin is experimenting with new pricing plans. Similarly to Transifex, they are now defined by a maximum word count. However, they do offer free subscription options (inclusive of free demo training) and no “extra seat charges” when adding new admins.

Some users imply that the software is difficult to set up and that the UI is somewhat cluttered. Project management can also be difficult, with a lack of helpful features including the inability to comment on a project without entering and having to manually add collaborators to projects one by one. And while there is an option to request updates and new integrations, Crowdin is reportedly slow to mobilise.

However, many users across review sites do imply that Crowdin has greatly improved their workflow.

Some beneficial features include:

  • Support of 60+ file types
  • Offline interaction for translators
  • Create-your-own glossaries
  • Automated QA and workflow functions
  • In-context previews
  • Connection to popular MT engines
  • A variety of integrations (including design, marketing, and gaming)

Plunet

Plunet offers installable software for Mac and Windows systems, as well as cloud-based deployment. They provide admin and staff training too, including the aiding of software implementation by collaborating with in-house teams to form a feasible plan based on specific requirements.

Despite comprehensive training, some users still report a confusing layout and difficult basic functions. Automated functions include pre-translation of texts, calculation of prices, and job assignment, however, updating these workflows and pricing templates can be time-consuming.

And while some people imply that there is a lack of communication options on the platform, Plunet offers users the chance to request updates and developments (as well as receive comprehensive notes on new ones that are launched).

Some other features users love about Plunet include:

  • Customisable workflows (create your own or choose from predetermined ones)
  • Easy project monitoring
  • Create-your-own APIs, including those linked to Accounting software
  • Invoice management
  • Comprehensive analytical reporting

Wordbee

Wordbee is known for its intuitiveness according to some users, as well as its fast support. Considered a good mid-market TMS, the UI is reportedly a little dated and machine translation capabilities could be significantly better. Moreover, legacy translation memories won’t create fuzzy matches as a result of tag differences and configuration capacities, which makes it challenging to transition legacy translation memories for updates. 

The main issue with Wordbee, however, is that it’s expensive. Even so, some of its features may be worth the cost for certain users. These features include:

  • Invoicing and cost-control capabilities
  • Filter customisation for different file formats
  • The possibility for linguists to invite clients to make their revisions in the tool
  • Colour-coding of segments according to status

Tips for choosing the best Translation Management System

There are many factors to consider when seeking a TMS provider, including budget, ease of use, built-in features, and system compatibility. It’s a good idea for you and your team to list the aspects most beneficial to your company and its goals before researching. This way, you can start by aligning the search with your budget and use your team’s predetermined criteria to find the perfect fit.

When looking for a TMS provider, consider the following questions:

  • How straightforward is it to set up? How much training does it require? Is training offered to whole teams? Which elements of the TMS are manual and intuitive? 
  • Does it have everything you need? Does it have the desired features? Does it integrate with your other software? Can I build APIs? What security does it provide your data?
  • What if I have questions? What type of customer support does the provider offer?
  • What is it going to cost? Are there different subscriptions? Are there any additional costs for add-on features or training? Do they charge on a per-user basis or a flat rate?

Compare the answers to these questions when researching various TMS providers. Doing so will help you determine which system is best for your company’s needs, budget, and goals.

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