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Life as Language Service Project Manager

Translation Services Project Management

language proviider project managerLife as a Translation Service Project Manager

I am a language geek and love my job as a project manager in language services working with languages from all over the world helping people when they need translation services. I work in a Translation Company on translation projects of all sizes, from a one-page birth certificate to company webinars and InDesign marketing document in several languages. As a project manager, it is a real privilege to be helping someone attain their goal, big or small. When performed well, the role of the project manager can have a critical impact, including the following:

  • A company can communicate new safety rules worldwide.
  • A company can present their services in another country in its clients’ languages and systems.
  • An individual is able to achieve the next step in the immigration process by submitting their certified translated birth certificate to USCIS.
  • A student is able to go to France to study for their master’s degree by getting a translation of their personal and academic documents.

What some may consider a small job can have a huge impact on someone’s life and in a company’s growth, development, safety, and compliance regulations.

For small translation projects involving personal documents, anything from birth certificates to transcripts to family genealogy, people are basically asking me to help them with significant goals. This could be for

  • immigration process
  • marriage
  • family history
  • passports
  • moving or studying abroad

The large volume of translation jobs that I manage involves company documents and files, that also have great influence in the communication process for those companies.

  • A safety poster translated into Spanish produced for a tree cutting service could prevent someone from being injured on the job.
  • A medical pamphlet translated into Russian helps someone understand the subject and receive the correct treatment.
  • An employee handbook translated into Chinese has an impact on businesses and their employees and improves communication between stakeholders from other cultures.
  • Website content translation gives a company access to customers outside of the US.
  • Often, companies have to communicate with workers overseas and it is imperative to be able to provide documents in their language. This is possible with the help of a project manager.

What can a PM do for your translation project?

When we can find anything on the Internet, it would seem to be an easy thing to get something translated. However, there are many things a translation project manager does that helps the client get what they need without any bumps in the road or embarrassment from something generated online. A translation PM can assess your needs and help with:

  • selecting the right translator for the requirements of a translation job
  • making sure the original text is accessible and acceptable to the target audience
  • making sure deadlines are met
  • maintaining a budget for the project
  • addressing any issues post-translation
  • verifying that localization is effectively done according to the languages and locations where the documents are going to be used.
  • certification, notarization, and Apostilles

One of the keys to being a good Language Services Project Manager is to develop a good team for each project, build relationships with customers and manage the resources involved in the translation project.

When I start a project, I include on my team:

  • The customer. The customer is the reason I do what I do, and they are key in the beginning and end of the project. They provide the source materials and use the deliverables.
  • The Team of translators. They are integral to delivering high quality, reliable content translation that will be used by our customers.
  • Typesetters. Sometimes projects do not need typesetting, but when they do, your typesetter who understands the needs of translation is your best friend. What fit so nicely in English expands in almost every Western language and other languages have their own unique properties like Arabic which reads right to left. A good typesetter knows these issues and will make the document look as if it were originally created for the native country. A typesetter knows how to select the right font and skillfully navigates the hurdles of multilingual typesetting.

The customer and the team that completes the project might never meet, but as a project manager I act as the link between them all helping to assess what needs to be done for the client’s project.

You can think of the project manager as the conductor of the orchestra to produce the music of document translation for the ears of different audiences.

Whether the client is corporate or an individual, I like to establish a friendly rapport so that they feel comfortable reaching out with questions, updates, status, etc.

I also interact with other project managers to address challenges and share experiences to improve our skills and bag of tools. It is a job that involves the usage of technology and programs to control project and resources, convert files during file preparation tasks or loading different file types into translation environment to ease the work of translators while masking code in the files.

We are always learning on the job since the applications and needs continue to change. An important aspect of my job is to classify and rank translators after their work so in the next project we can select the best team for the assignment.

Planning the project is the most important part of my role as a project manager, and that happens once the assessment of the needs is completed, and we have all the information and all the files that need translation. After the planning comes the designing, executing, monitoring and controlling until the completion of the project.

Project Managers Get Translation Services on Your Side

When I talk with someone about their translation requirement, I can often hear the relief in their voice that they have someone on their side who can help them. Translation is a mystery to many people and when something that needs translating services lands in someone’s lap, the immediate reaction is often “what do I do now?” All translation projects have a particular goal and particular requirements linked to them that cannot be accomplished without the help of a good translation service agency that has all the resources and technology to support the work, and the knowledge and experience of a good project manager with attention to detail.

Language services PMs are in place to help you, guide and facilitate the communication process at a global level, you need to be able to trust your translation company and the project manager that will assist you in the journey.

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Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela. Jackie has a BS in computer engineering; As President of JR Language, she spends time researching new technology and productivity tools for the Company. She holds a certificate of Localization and Project Management- Localization. Through her many years of experience working in multilingual corporate environments, she understands firsthand the value of bridging language barriers in creating smooth communication that allows for productive and happy work environments. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and is a frequent contributor to both our English and Spanish blogs. Jackie loves nature and to be outdoors.