Translation automation: How to automate translation delivery
Translation automation: How to automate translation delivery illustration
XTM Content Team
AuthorXTM Content Team
Reading time 15 minutes

Across the localization industry there’s increasing pressure to do more with less. But how? Well, translation automation can unlock cost and time savings, helping you ensure business success.

Repetitive tasks that previously took up valuable time can be partially or fully automated. Sending out job requests, negotiating details with vendors, emailing across files and issuing purchase orders – all of these steps in the process can be completely automated, thanks to XTRF.

This frees up your team to focus on higher stakes work such as vendor recruitment, quality assurance, or client relationship management.

In fact, XTRF clients often halve project management time. You might think that’s a difficult thing to calculate. But we do it for you. If you’re already an XTRF user, head to ‘Settings’ and you’ll see how many hours you’ve saved thanks to automations. And if you’re not, in this article we’ll look at the benefits that automating your translation workflow, and automating the translation itself, can bring…

The benefits of translation automation

So where in the translation workflow does automation come into play?

It’s in more places than you might think.

As well as the obvious areas like notifications and file transfer, you can also create some clever automations to help with choosing your translators, completing actions in other systems, and creating and distributing documents like quotes, invoices, and purchase orders.

And you can even make some of the translation automatic, by using machine translation to pre-translate files.

But if you’re worried about losing precious control of the process, never fear – with XTRF, you can choose to keep certain steps manual, while automating others.

Let’s look at a typical translation project workflow and see where automation can help…

1. Project requests

Clients particularly appreciate XTRF’s ability to streamline vendor management and automate workflow processes.

For example, you’re able to easily take true vendor availability into account, with the system accounting for not only vacations and absences, but also vendor speed and remaining capacity.

Plus there are plenty of options to tweak the system to suit your needs right out of the box, whether it’s invoice templates, workflows or dashboards.

Creating a quote and project

A client needs a document translated, and your translation process kicks into gear.

Let’s say they send the document to you by email. A quote can be automatically generated and sent out to them, without your project managers lifting a finger. Meanwhile, in the background, a project is created within XTRF, and in your chosen CAT tool.

Other ways to automate project and quote creation

There are a few different options here. For instance, your client could upload a file to a shared drive, or a specific server. Or they could submit a quote request form. All of these actions can trigger XTRF to create a project in the system with all the relevant information filled out.

Choosing vendors

Next, you need to choose who’s going to do the translation.

If you like, this process can be automated too. You set the criteria and process for vendor selection. For example, you might decide that you would like to begin by sending job offers out to five translators with the relevant language combination and specializations and appropriate rates. Then, as it’s an urgent job, if you don’t receive any positive responses within an hour, you might send the offer out to a further five, and so on. This process is known as cascading job offers.

Then again, perhaps you’d prefer to choose one of a client’s preferred vendors, or filter based on a custom field or category you’ve created. That’s completely doable. All you need to do is create rules to tell the system to do just that.

But that’s not where it ends.

Some vendors might want to negotiate. Perhaps they need slightly longer to complete the project, or will only accept it at a higher rate. With XTRF, you can even automate the negotiation process.

Simply set your limits in terms of deadlines and rates, and let the system do the rest.

Vendors will be able to negotiate with a bot in XTRF Chat, our live chat feature. Time difference delays begone – all this can happen without your project managers needing to respond, meaning vendors can be confirmed more quickly.

Automatic financial calculations and document creations

The project is all booked in, and jobs have been assigned to vendors. Meanwhile, XTRF has been carrying out calculations and creating all the financial documents you need. You can automate payables, receivables, quotes, POs, and invoices.

Purchase orders for your vendors and quotes for your clients, can be sent out automatically. And because project payables and receivables have already been worked out, it’s easy for your team to see the financials at a glance – whether sales want to check in on margins, or management want to keep an eye on ROI.

Automated job scheduling

Booking in jobs can be a logistical nightmare, especially when it comes to complex projects with many steps and parties involved, who might all decide to ask for a different deadline. It’s also particularly prone to human error. And one botched deadline can easily derail a multi-language project.

So it’s probably a task best left to the computers.

With XTRF, you can easily create your project workflow and let the system calculate each deadline based on the size of each individual job. It will automatically split a project into different jobs and look at the productivity and remaining capacity of each vendor to set sensible deadlines.


Of course, XTRF alerts and notifications (or emails, depending on your settings) are sent out to let vendors know they have a job offer, to advise project managers when a vendor has accepted the job, and so on.

Plus, thanks to Zapier, XTRF can now sync with a whole suite of different systems.

Let’s say that once a project is created, you’d like a Slack thread to be created with assigned project managers.

No problem!

Or perhaps when a job has been assigned to a vendor, you’d like the project manager to receive a notification in Microsoft Teams.

You got it.

Then again, maybe once you receive a quote request from a new client, you’d like to create a new CRM record in HubSpot, reminding the sales team to follow up with that client.

Sure thing.

The Zapier integration is incredibly powerful and allows you to connect XTRF to other leading systems, without needing to get the tech team involved — saving you even more time.

2. Translation or localization

File transfers

Now we’re ready to get working on the job itself. Automation will take care of sending all the files to the right place.

Source and reference files, glossaries; they’ll all be sent to the relevant vendors so that they can get localizing.

When one translator completes their job, the files will be sent across to the next person in the chain, such as a reviewer, and perhaps then to your internal quality assurance or DTP team. It all happens seamlessly.

Pre-translation of files

Work can begin before your vendors even touch the files.

Using CAT tool and machine translation integrations, your source text can be pre-translated. Some refer to this as automatic translation.

Approved client terminology will automatically be applied, and previous client work can be reused, ensuring consistency and saving time. Normally, it will then be up to the translator to approve or reject the suggested translations.

3. Project delivery

Delivery of files to the client

Once the localization is complete, it’s time to send the translated files on to your client.

Maybe you’d prefer to do this manually, for more of a human touch. Otherwise, you can have the system automate delivery. Customize your document and email templates to make sure everything looks on brand and tailored, even if the system’s doing the actual sending.

Invoice creation

Now that the project’s all wrapped up, it’s time to finalize the finances.

XTRF can automatically create and send invoices to your clients, and through the Vendor Portal, vendors can create their invoices to send to you, with just a few clicks.

Use another accounting or e-invoicing system? No sweat. XTRF can connect to a range of e-invoicing and accounting tools such as FreshBooks, QuickBooks Online, and Wave using Zapier so your data can sync in the blink of an eye.

4. Review and monitoring

Translation automation doesn’t just apply to project management or the translation process.

It can also provide valuable oversight to inform your company strategy. With the system automatically calculating key metrics such as margin and profitability, you can quickly and easily take the pulse of specific projects, and of your business as a whole.

XTRF offers two main options for getting a big picture view:

  • Business Barometer, XTRF’s built-in business intelligence tool

  • Exporting your data to Google Big Query

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Business Barometer

Business Barometer is XTRF’s advanced reporting function. See top-level metrics in your dashboard or view trends in your projects, quotes, specializations, and clients, and act on the findings.

For instance, you might notice a drop-off in quote acceptance rates. What’s happened here? Is this the case across the board, or only within particular market segments? Business Barometer is a solid starting point for identifying room for improvement, and from here you can investigate key questions such as “What might be driving this negative change, and how can I turn it around?”

Google Big Query

Sometimes, the devil is in the details. If you need to delve deeper into your data, Google Big Query has the answer. You can export your XTRF data to Google Big Query for insights into an even wider range of topics.

Let’s imagine you need to reduce costs. Big Query could help you:

  • determine profitability by project

  • view ROI by month, client, job, specialty, or language

  • assess margins

  • track dwindling languages or specializations

All this will give you the insight to know when to cross-sell, upsell, double down, or pull out of a particular language, specialization, or service.

How to automate translation delivery

So how can you make the most of automations like the ones we’ve discussed above?

Defining a workflow

The first step is defining a workflow. In other words, sketch out an end-to-end process for a typical translation project with all the steps: i.e., translation, review, DTP. It can help to create a simple flow diagram using pen and paper. Then recreate that workflow in XTRF by starting a new project. The drag and drop workflow editor is easy to use and the visual display reflects a flow diagram.

By default, the simple act of creating a project like this will trigger certain automations, such as notifications and file transfer. But if you need to change this, or want to add a clever new automation, head to the process designer in Settings > Projects and Quotes, then Process Templates; or to Settings, then Automations. Both places will allow to add new automations and edit existing ones.

Unlocking business success with translation automation

Automation, AI, MT, machine learning: they’re not just buzzwords. The key to surviving in today’s competitive localization landscape is knowing how to use these new technologies to your advantage. We hope to have shown that by using automation throughout the translation workflow, from project kick-off through to project handoff, you can save time and money, and ultimately — thrive.