Whether in economic boom times or busts, companies always need to work more efficiently. Translation and localization research and consulting firm Common Sense Advisory interviewed 30 companies about their translation management systems (TMS) to uncover how TMSes are helping multilingual content producers meet demand and improve productivity. The results, detailed in the firm’s March 2009 report, “Translation Management Takes Flight,” describe the types of systems (from house to commercial off the shelf), benefits and possible shortcomings of the TMS options available, and the factors driving TMS demand.
“TMS users tell us their systems help them keep up with demand, while in some cases doubling production of local language content,” comments Ben Sargent, Senior Analyst at Common Sense Advisory. He adds that, “Because they process or store content that gets translated, many other enterprise applications have been hooked up directly to a TMS. We predict that TMS could become the de facto center of the enterprise content universe as companies centralize their multilingual content assets.”
Mushrooming demand for local language digital information, coupled with the results demonstrated by early adopters combines to form what Common Sense Advisory defines as the “TMS Imperative.” The TMS Imperative requires that companies formulate a translation management strategy to adopt this enabling technology. “The alternative is to reach a choke-point in communication with core constituencies that will have far-reaching implications for customer experience, product release cycles, revenue growth, and brand value” states Sargent.
TMS helps multilingual content producers improve the automation, outsourcing, and manageability of content workflows. TMS users demonstrate:
Content workflow automation. File processing is still a repetitive task for companies using traditional translation memory tools. TMSes automate some or all file processing activities, depending on configuration and file types, as well as the communication tasks of notifying next participants in a work chain. Many systems also automate reporting functions.
Streamlined outsourcing. Translation is largely and increasingly an outsourced activity. Bidding out projects, each one with slightly different parameters, adds an administrative burden to global enterprises. TMS users largely erase that friction. Fewer internal resources manage greater volumes of outsourcing with seamless content connectors or portal-based interactions. A single job may also be broken out between multiple vendors, but still project managed as a single job in the system. The result is what Common Sense Advisory calls “high fidelity” outsourcing, where jobs and vendors are right-sized and optimized from both a capabilities and a costing perspective.
Improved transparency and manageability. Process standardization on a common platform creates the opportunity for greater visibility of cost, schedules, and productivity. This increased transparency improves the manageability of localization, a gating process for global product release, international campaign management, and other strategic business activities.
TMSes may promise a unified supply of language assets for all the other enterprise systems that consume, process, and store digital information. However, according to Sargent, “delivering on that promise will take an IT infrastructure-level application capable of both heavy-lifting and seamless interoperability.” “Translation Management Takes Flight” continues Common Sense Advisory’s long-term investigation and insight into the translation management system sector, also known as globalization management. The report is available to members of Common Sense Advisory’s research. More information is available at www.commonsenseadvisory.com.