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Project managers: the unsung heroes and heroines of the translation world


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Claire Ingram photoThe Project Manager - the unsung hero of the translation and localization process. Claire Ingram, Head of Production, at ATC members Wordbank explores just why good project managers are the key to a quality service.

“Our technical team has just changed the spec for the camera slightly so, we need to change a couple of words on the packaging - the changes are quite minor - are we still ok for Friday delivery as we need to go to print over the weekend” ?

The answer, of course, for the Project Manager is "now we're up against it, as this will involve contacting 38 of my translators across the globe to re-work the affected sentences and then have it double-checked by another 38 proofreaders". Project Managers just have to grit their teeth and solve the problem for the client in the fastest and most economical way.

The role of the Project Manager within translation and localization companies has become increasingly pivotal within the business, because Project Managers are not only responsible for building a relationship with the client, but also provide the crucial link between all the different contributors to the localization process. These will include sales, translators, editors, proofreaders, QA-ers, terminology and translator selection teams, designers, IT specialists and the client's approval contacts in the local markets. So, for a typical packaging project in 38 languages, the Project Manager may have to manage the relationship between more than 150 people in order to deliver the job and the responsibility rests with them.

In localization companies like Wordbank who specialise in complex, multilingual projects, Project Managers not only have to have a wide range of linguistic, IT and communication skills, but they also need to be superbly organised, think on their feet and operate well under pressure.

The Project Management role within the localization industry has developed considerably over the last few years and Wordbank has worked together with a number of universities to help them to tailor their Project Management modules to reflect real-life situations in the industry. Not surprisingly, we now focus on these universities when recruiting Project Managers, as we can have some confidence that graduates will have a good understanding of the complexities of the role.

Increasingly, a good Project Manager needs to be multi-skilled. Key requirements are strong linguistic skills and a real understanding of how different languages 'behave' in print and online so that they can guide their clients through the entire process. Project Managers also need to have strong technical skills, as all projects are managed in a technical environment that could involve working with workflow systems, content management systems, software applications and desktop publishing.

And then there are the organisational and people skills. At the heart of the Project Management function are the requirements to be well organised with a passion for detail; to be able to multi-task across a range of projects; and to deliver a high standard of customer service, so that every client is made to feel that their project is of the highest importance for the Project Manager.

No two days are ever the same as every job and every client is different and the only guarantee is that no day will ever be dull!




This article is republished with permission of Communicate - the Association of Translation Companies' newsletter - www.atc.org.uk








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