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What Is a Translation Management System? An Overview of How a TMS Streamlines Translation Workflows

Before we answer the question of “what is a translation management system,” let’s first take a step back and look at why you’d want to translate your content in the first place. If your company wants to take its place in the global market, localisation should be a key part of your strategy.

In 2020, an international study of over 8,000 consumers found that more than 70% of people prefer to purchase products with information in their native language, while 40% agreed that they would never buy from a website that’s written in a language they can’t understand.

Having a streamlined localisation process in place is essential if you want to reach these global customers effectively. This is where translation management systems come in. A Translation Management System (TMS) is a unique software tool for organisations hoping to maximise efficiency in the translation and localisation process. Whatever the size of your business, it will improve productivity and quality whilst reducing spending costs and turnaround time. This article will delve into the benefits and features of modern TMSs.

In this post:

What is a TMS?

Simply put, a TMS is a software application that acts as a central hub for all translation projects and related communications. It allows you to oversee and interact with operations from one homepage. Say goodbye to the translation process nightmares of the past, like managing projects through a series of emails, Word docs, and Excel spreadsheets.

A TMS organises workflow, automates tasks, and integrates with your usual systems (such as management, design, or eCommerce) thereby increasing efficiency in both production and spending. You can also enhance efficiency via quality assurance tools and vast linguistic databases, which help collaborators to optimise the rate and quality of their output.

CAT tools vs TMS 

CAT tools are software programs that help translators during the translation process. From storing and re-using past translations to running quality assurance checks, CAT tools greatly improve workflow and output quality for translators.

TMSs, on the other hand, are designed to improve the efficiency of the entire operation by supporting not only translators but project management and scalability as well. They have features and abilities such as:

  • Built-in CAT tools 
  • Project management 
  • Workflow automation
  • Report generation 
  • Integrations and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)

Benefits of a TMS

Before we delve into the benefits of a TMS, it’s important to understand that the translation and localisation process can be long and complex. Completing a project from start to finish involves multiple steps and a variety of different types of professionals, each with their own specialised skills and procedures. Keeping the plates spinning can be tough.

With teams often spread out around the world, the software is designed to aid all associates of a project, keeping the day-to-day operations coherent and the output consistent. Let’s take a look at some of the main benefits of a TMS.

Simplified management

Without a unifying platform like a TMS, it can be a nightmare to keep track of the countless email chains, spreadsheets, and retreating deadlines. A TMS allows you to track and interact with all translation projects in one place, receiving instant updates about progress, status, costs, etc.

Moreover, the ability to provide real-time metric reports also allows you to better forecast outcomes and review areas that may need improvement.

Increased productivity, reduced resource expenditure

Using a TMS, companies can take on larger projects with shorter turnaround times. The automation of non-essential work and translation tools will save your company resources by reducing the need for (and cost of) manual input.

In addition, with a TMS integrating communication channels and your other commonly used operating systems (such as Slack, Adobe, Jira, etc.) you can finally eliminate the need to switch back and forth between interfaces all day long.

Higher-quality translations

A TMS gives you the tools you need to create flawless content, consistently. Their extensive linguistic repositories make it easy for translators to find and reuse past translations with features such as translation memories and terminology databases. 

In addition, most TMSs allow for interactive previews and real-time collaboration between translation teams so that everyone is always on the same page and working on the most recent version of a project. 

Faster time to market

In today’s increasingly competitive digital world, the ability to get your products and services to market quickly can mean the difference between success and failure. 

Using an extensive range of project management and translation tools, a TMS will help you get your content translated and published faster than ever before, helping you to stay ahead of the competition. Indirectly, as a result of TMS efficiency and consistency, customer loyalty and satisfaction rates are improved.

Common features of a Translation Management System

A good TMS provides an array of project management tools that make it easy to oversee, interact with and streamline the translation and localisation process. By utilising the translator tools, you can also boost project productivity and output quality. Not to mention reduce costs and turnaround times. 

Let’s take a look at some of the common workflow-enhancing features that most TMS providers offer.

What is a translation management system? Common TMS features
Common features of a Translation Management System

Workflow management

With teams often spread across the globe, a TMS can help you to streamline workflows. Automation of the more tedious tasks, such as vendor assignment and document formatting, reduces the need for manual input and frees up time to focus on the more essential work. While other project management tools allow collaborators to tag and filter, receive real-time updates, and easily access and transfer files.

Linguistic management

Industry estimations show that 15% of spending comes from reworking translations. CAT tools, such as the ones below, allow teams to access an extensive library of previously approved translations, helping to reduce translation errors while improving consistency and quality.

Translation memory

Translation Memory (TM) systems create a “memory” as teams work and become more astute every time you translate a new word or sentence. As translators type out new content, the system will recognize repeated text and offer an auto-fill function for the suggested change.

Terminology management

Similarly to TM, terminology databases record approved phrases and expressions, specific to an industry or audience, for later use. Whether it be technical jargon, acronyms, or slogans, these can be easily accessed by translators as they work.

Glossaries

Glossaries store translation-specific information in one place, an essential tool for global marketing so that a brand can maintain consistency. They come in handy for teams who are frequently translating into multiple languages as they provide a reference guide for terminology, style, tone, etc.

Reporting

Since all work is managed centrally, a TMS can generate reports in real-time. Whether it be monitoring spending, tracking progress, or comparing results to initial outlines, this feature enables translation companies to identify areas for improvement, as well as provide updates to partners.

Machine translation

Machine translation is computer-based software that automatically translates text across domains. Think Google Translate. Though a TMS doesn’t solely rely on this technology, as complex translations aren’t always accurate, they are rapid and offer teams the ability to boost productivity (specifically when it comes to singular words) reducing the time and cost of translation.

Integrations and APIs

A good TMS will offer a range of integrations and APIs that connect to other software systems (such as project management or design tools, customer relationship management platforms and eCommerce sites) that your business already uses. APIs allow two applications to communicate with one another, making them useful for streamlining communications and the sharing of information.

Automated Quality Assurance (QA)

It can be easy to lose perspective when working closely with a specific project.  QA automation is a process in which translation technologies check for errors and deliver feedback directly to the translation teams. From incorrect spelling and grammar to misused and inconsistent translations, QA checks can be run automatically or at the click of a button.

Cloud storage

Storing your data on the internet is called “cloud-based storage” or “cloud storage”. Most TMS providers offer this type of system, making it easy to access files from anywhere in the world and eliminating maintenance costs. Though the cost of a TMS can often vary based on which specific storage solution(s) are offered, using cloud-based systems ensures scalability and instantaneous access.

Tips for choosing the right 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?

If you’re evaluating your options, here’s an overview of the main commercial TMS solutions in the market.

Conclusion

A TMS is specifically designed for translation and localisation teams to manage workflows, but the benefits often extend to other departments working with multilingual content too. They improve operations and boost productivity while reducing time and costs – all from a singular platform. With features such as task automation and reporting, that aid project management and optimise workflow, teams can easily streamline their operations. 

In today’s increasingly globalised business world, a TMS is an essential piece of software for many companies because it can greatly improve customer satisfaction. By combining a more efficient workflow with the support of built-in QA and CAT tools, translators can produce high-quality content and help an organisation maintain brand consistency.

Though there are many TMS providers out there, the features (and price tags) will vary. Try to list the most beneficial aspects before scouting. This way, you can match the search to your budget and know exactly what you’re looking for throughout the research process. By combining the perfect features for your organisation, you’ll be in an ideal position when making a swift transition to the global market.

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