In Technical Localization Process Consulting we work closely with project managers, supporting them in carrying out new client onboardings, test translations, RFPs and account optimizations. We rely greatly on the project managers to feedback key client and account information to us, so that we are in a position to make informed decisions about the tools, technology and methodology to use when considering a client engagement.
A good project manager will not only bring all the elements of a project team together, but will also gain a clear understanding of the role every individual plays within that team.
A typical project may involve a diverse range of translators, consultants and technical services, and it is important for the project managers to understand properly when these teams relay information which may be complex or technical in nature. Unless our own project manager has a good grasp of technical issues and can discuss them effectively, it can be a challenge to support the client and meet their needs!
Project managers are the link between the client and the translators. They transfer files, information, queries and answers back and forth to make sure the client and the translators understand each other, and the projects flow smoothly. When issues arise they should support the translators against unreasonable demands from the clients – but of course they need to keep the clients happy, as well. It’s a fine balancing act that requires considerable diplomacy skills.
Good project managers are well organized and keep track of all projects at their different stages.
They are aware of what information is required at the start of a project and when to send delivery reminders. They know all tools and processes inside out and use them efficiently. Above all, they always stay cheerful under almost constant pressure!
Without project managers, translators would have to deal with clients directly and take care of all those time-consuming admin jobs that project managers are so good at saving the translators from.
With project managers, translators can concentrate on what they do best – translating!
Among all their practical skills, project managers also need a bit of sensitivity towards their translators. They need to know when to leave them alone to do their job, rather than sending yet another “friendly reminder”, and they need to hit the right tone. Too many smileys at the wrong moment can be annoying too!
As a subject matter expert and reviewer, the project manager helps me to keep track of my progress whilst managing the whole process from handover to delivery.
A good project manager should have a deep knowledge and big picture of the project.
My advice to a new project manager would be that simply managing a project up to completion is not enough. Project managers really need to summarize all the lessons and experiences learnt after each project (in a project post-mortem), whether there are positive or negative takeaways (e.g. how to avoid making the same mistake again, how to tackle an issue if it happens again etc.) in order to continuously improve future projects.
In addition to the translators and reviewers, DTP are another department who work with project managers to deliver high-quality localizations to the end client. While the translators focus on translating the content, DTP are responsible for ensuring the translation fits the original content’s layout. Together we work to deliver the best quality file to the client. The project manager is central to this, acting as the hub for the client, translators and DTP. They help us to understand the needs of the client as well as communicate our recommendations to them, in order to make the whole process go smoothly.
My advice to project managers when working on multilingual projects would be to try and send all the translated files in each language to DTP together rather than one-by-one (if possible).
This helps to reduce our overall workload for the project and allows us to work more efficiently.