Note: This blog entry was originally written in Japanese in 2019 for our Japanese website. We used our machine translation platform Translation Designer to translate the entry into English and to post-edit the output for readers outside of Japan. The original Japanese entry can be found here.

Keywords such as AI and IoT have come to be heard frequently in the last few years. Even in the translation industry, there is a rapid movement to make major changes by actively incorporating various tools for machine translation (MT) and operational efficiency.

So far, our blog has introduced technologies that streamline the translation work itself, such as computer-assisted translation, or CAT, tools, as well as MT and neural translation. In this article, we will introduce the translation management system, or TMS, that realizes the efficiency of peripheral work and project management that occur with translation work.

Is translation process complicated?

So, how is translation work done? We have prepared a diagram showing the general flow of translation projects.

Order > Translation > Revision > Review or Proofreading > Layout or Engineering Work > Delivery

First of all, a translation company proceeds with the estimation and drafting of the work plan based on the data to be translated (in the old days, they were paper manuscript) and specifications received from the customer. Then, it will inform the customer of the work plan together with the quote and wait for the order to be placed. There are several processes, such as translation, check, and engineering, from when the customer officially places an order to the delivery, and a translation coordinator in charge manages the overall progress.

If the data to be translated is quite small, the coordinator's work may not be that complicated, but it doesn't always proceed smoothly this way (rather, it's rare). Sometimes you have to manage multiple projects in progress at the same time. In other cases, if you are in charge of a large-scale project, you need to manage the progress of multiple translators and reviewers. Busy with processing many projects, the coordinator will eventually feel out of control of managing them.

What is TMS?

A translation management system, commonly known as TMS, has emerged to efficiently manage such multitasking of project managers with large-scale workloads, including linguists, cost, and schedule. TMS aims to consolidate the translation workflow into a single platform and optimize the process. It may be close to a contents management system, or CMS, that manages blogs and websites. But this one is for managing translation work.

TMS is developed and sold by various companies. Specifications and functions vary from company to company, but a general TMS has functions such as translation workflow management, accounting functions such as billing and payment, database, and communication tools. Some even have unique translation tools implemented. The extent to which TMS functions are used depends on the user, but there are cases where both the contractors (translators) and agencies use the TMS.

TMS and process automation

What are the specific benefits of introducing a TMS? The introduction can be expected to improve work efficiency in all aspects, but for now, we will pick up and introduce particularly remarkable points.

In order to respond to customers' orders and requests, translation companies have multiple project managers and freelance translators ready to take on the work. As the number of projects increases, the number of stakeholders involved increases, and it becomes necessary to really manage the projects.
A TMS can handle all information related to the entire process of translation work, such as customer information, translator information, delivery date, payment to translators, and billing amount. In other words, information is visualized. In addition, the information is updated in real time, so when you log into a TMS, there is an advantage that the information is shared and you will not miss anything. By enjoying these benefits, for example, you can prevent double-booking a translator for multiple projects.

By requesting work via the TMS, linguists can always download files from the same location and check the information written in a fixed format, reducing miscommunication of files or information. In addition, since the data provided by our customers are managed on a secure site, we can take all possible measures in terms of information security.

A TMS first appeared in the translation industry about 10 years ago. Initially, the areas of integration and standardization were significantly improved, which greatly contributed to the efficiency of work. In addition to these, a TMS in recent years has its automation function as a selling point.
Normally, when translating using a CAT tool, the translation target file is first imported into the tool to create a translation project. Then you would analyze the translation volume, connect a translation memory to the project, and start working in the editor screen. However, these processes have to be done manually. But with the recently developed TMS, it has become possible to automate these detailed processes, for example, by linking CAT tools with an application programming interface, or API,
Simply upload the file to a TMS and press a button to have the TMS take the following steps. Create a translation project > analyze the volume > automatically enter this volume into the TMS. You can also have the TMS assign translators or hand over files to reviewers for you.
If you take full advantage of the characteristics of a TMS, you may be able to also link the automated translation engine with CAT tools. Then you can automatically translate files and start post editing immediately just by clicking a button.

Make your customers happy too — benefits of introducing TMS

We have talked about the three benefits that a TMS brings, but these benefits are not only for those who manage translation projects such as translation companies, but even for the customers who order these projects. In the highly competitive TMS market, where development is repeated, many companies are conducting research and development to add more functions to their products.

Under such circumstances, a TMS that involves translation companies, freelancers, and even customers (the party that orders the translation work) was born. With such a TMS, customers can even order translation work more efficiently and automatically.

Simply upload the file you want to have translated to the TMS platform, fill in the specifications in a form, and request a quote. If you want to proceed with the order, you can place an order with the translation company by just pushing the button. When requesting multiple orders, you can centrally manage them, and the status of each order is clear at a glance. Since there is no troublesome email exchange, it is even possible for the customer side to streamline its operations.

Many products of TMS have been developed that involve multiple stakeholders and bring efficiency and automation to their operations. Nowadays, CAT tools such as memoQ and XTM have even released functions to integrate a TMS. We sure have to keep an eye on future development.

Summary: TMS is now indispensable for translation management

We hope this article gave you an idea of using a TMS. As you can see, if you succeed in introducing a TMS, you can expect a significant improvement in business efficiency.

There are still many points to explore. However, we believe that a TMS will help us to improve work efficiency by making good use of automation functions and to devote that extra time toward new challenges. With that in mind, we log into our TMS again today.

Kawamura's translation service

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