XTM Xplains

Do I need a translation management system?
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Melissa Lorraine
AuthorMelissa Lorraine
Reading time 9 minutes

The deployment of a translation management system (TMS) is a way of solving and streamlining many issues in a localization program. However, it’s important to assess your needs first and identify their solution beforehand. 

A translation management system has numerous benefits. Here are seven key considerations to help you evaluate if a TMS’s advantages can help you.

Translation frequency

Consider the volume of translation work your organization manages. If your organization handles a substantial number of translation projects, works with multiple languages, and has ongoing translation needs, implementing a TMS can streamline and improve these processes. One of the advantages of a TMS  is that it provides the necessary infrastructure to effectively handle large-scale translation workflows.

As a general guideline, organizations may begin considering a TMS if they send files for translation at least once or twice a month or over 100,000 words per year. The more often or the higher volume of content that you need to localize, the more you will benefit from a TMS’s automation and streamlining capabilities, as it allows you to scale up without resources or costs spiraling out of control. 

For instance, the resources deployed by a localization manager of a software company who handles two markets and 50,000 words a year without a TMS wouldn’t be able to sustain the growth that would come if their company’s app is launched in 10 new markets and the content to be localized rises from 50,000 to 2.5 million words per year. With a TMS’s high level of automation, scaling up doesn’t require a proportional increase in resources deployed and, consequently, there are no spiraling costs.

Translation complexity

Consider the complexity of your translation projects when evaluating the need for a TMS. A TMS can be useful in simplifying the processes if your projects:

  • Involve multiple stakeholders and departments (i.e., from project managers to marketing specialists and legal compliance officer)
  • Require strict quality control or intricate workflows
  • Require extensive localization efforts

Here are a few key issues to consider:

Machine Translation Control

If you intend to use Machine Translation (MT) and require control over which engines are used and how they are utilized, a TMS can provide the necessary access to that data, enabling you to make informed decisions. It also supports new AI technologies such as neural machine translation (NMT), which can further streamline your translation processes and make them more cost-efficient.

Continuous Localization Support

If you need to make changes to your global content on short notice that cannot wait for the next localization update, the manual tasks involved in accomplishing this without a TMS take so long that by the time they’re done it’s too late. With a TMS, you can make small changes without having to resend entire files for translation or waiting for the next localization update. Normally, a TMS can recognize changes in your source file and automatically send new or updated content for translation, facilitating efficient continuous localization processes.

Linguistic Quality Assurance

If you need to evaluate the performance of your linguists or vendors, doing so manually can be quite time-consuming, especially if you have a comprehensive number of languages to manage and have to do so one by one. A TMS’s Linguistic Quality Assurance functionality helps you assess the quality and punctuality of your vendors. It provides valuable insights into their performance that you can view at a glance and downloadable reports that you can use to make informed, data-driven decisions.

Workflow Complexity

If your translation workflows differ based on content type, languages, or specific requirements, a TMS can centralize all stakeholders, enabling collaborative work on a single platform. Stakeholders get notified automatically whenever a task has been assigned to them, which saves considerable time compared to manual  notifications sent manually via email or across different time zones.

Multi-Vendor Management

If you collaborate with multiple translation vendors or partners, a TMS can be a centralized platform to manage and streamline vendor relationships, offering reporting capabilities.

How does all of this come together? Imagine you’re a localization manager for an ecommerce company and you’re launching your new clothing brand in eight new markets. Your project requirements include:

  • Need to translate long terms and conditions in the new language, so machine translation will be essential.
  • Have  a legal-compliance officer in the workflows. 
  • Deploy chatbots for your customer service, likely powered by AI technology, to localize their answers. 
  • Need to update your website regularly with new additions or changes to the collection To keep your website constantly updated, you’ll need a TMS that supports continuous localization, eliminating the need to wait for major updates.
  • You want to maintain your unique brand voice in all markets, such as Argentina, Thailand, and South Africa. To accomplish this, you’ll need all your language service providers (LSPs) to be on the same page. You can centralize all LSPs on the same TMS, leveraging the same language assets that are controlled by you at all times.


Another TMS advantage is that it’s a scalable solution that can accommodate increased translation volumes and complexities, and enable cost management as you expand. While you may not have any global expansion plans now, this may change in the future and quickly, so having a scalable tool is vital. When evaluating TMS options, look for scalability features that can be tailored to your organization’s current and potential requirements. 

For example, let’s say you anticipate adding an additional 100,000 words  next year and another 300,000 the year after that, or 10 new languages over the next three years. It’s important to consider how you will efficiently manage this increased workload. Some localization tools have caps on users and word count, which would need to be considered if your volumes are growing. A TMS allows for scalable growth without increased costs or technological constraints, enabling centralized localization activity on a single platform.

If you require significant scalability, using a private-cloud option allows you to process large volumes of content quickly and efficiently thanks to having dedicated network resources without sharing. This option is also viable for companies that have strict security requirements regarding cloud technology stacks.

Levels of collaboration

Evaluate whether your organization works with multiple translators, editors, reviewers or project managers. Implementing translation management technology can greatly facilitate collaboration, communication, and the seamless exchange of translation assets among team members. If many people are involved in the process and managing it all manually is delaying it, a TMS enables everyone to communicate on the same platform. As a result, there’s no need for offline communication, duplicate queries and subsequent duplicate efforts answering them, and the risk of lost messages. Having all stakeholders working and collaborating together on the same platform is a great driver for a localization program’s cost efficiency.

You should also consider whether you would like to enable simultaneous localization, where reviewers can start reviewing translations as soon as the linguists begin their work. If your organization has internal reviewers, one TMS advantage is that it would enable them to review translations, provide feedback, and suggest revisions within one platform. If this is your case, then a TMS may be a good option.

Need for integrations

If your organization has content in multiple platforms, implementing translation management technology can normally help to streamline the management of all of your content. Typically a TMS offers integration capabilities with various software systems, such as content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and more. 

With an integration, content for translation can be selected automatically from the content-authoring tool and sent in a few clicks to translate. The content is automatically exported to the TMS, translated, and imported back into the content tool ready for publishing. Without an integration, the content is sent for translation manually, usually attaching spreadsheets on emails. Not only does the import and export of content take time, but if there are any issues with the translation, the process needs to be repeated over again, which takes up valuable time. 

A TMS automates the transfer of content between platforms and ensures that the workflow keeps progressing without unnecessary delays among stakeholders until the final translated documents are ready for publication. When evaluating TMS options, you need to consider the integration capabilities they offer and whether they align with the tools you currently use in your organization.

Translating complex files or structured content

Translating complex files or structured content can present unique challenges in the translation process. Certain file formats, such as DITA or XML files, can be intricate and contain specific tags and structures that need to be accurately maintained throughout translation. It is possible to break tags or translatable content becomes incorrect or missing. This can lead to delays and potential quality issues, as you may not realize the missing content until the translated file is returned. 

If you work with complex content a translation management benefit is that it can automatically identify and extract translatable segments and maintain the formatting and structure of the files. As a result, content is consistent and accurate throughout the entire translation process, and it minimizes the risk of content loss or errors.

Data ownership and accessibility

One last consideration is data: how much of it do you need and do you need to own it? With a TMS, you have greater control and ownership of your translation data. You can easily access and retrieve your data whenever needed, ensuring you have complete visibility and control over your translation assets. In contrast, relying solely on vendors may limit your access to data or make it more challenging to retrieve.

Here’s some data you may only be able to get from a TMS, depending on what your vendors agree to share with you:

  • How many words are being translated  from scratch
  • How much of a machine translation is being corrected by linguists
  • How many segments already existed and didn’t need to be translated at all

Some LSPs may charge you a blanket fee per word no matter how much work is actually required, like if they are using MT or content that already exists. With a TMS, you would get a more accurate representation of what is needed, as it would show you clear metrics based on your files. If you are happy with the kind of data you are getting from your LSP, or are able to track it on your own, then you may not need a TMS.

The bottom line

The decision to adopt translation management technology should be based on the specific needs, requirements, size, and goals of your organization. Evaluating them will give you a good indication on whether you need to deploy a TMS. 

If you’re still not sure if a translation management system’s benefits will help you,  we have made it easier for you to find out with quizzes that give you tailored advice based on your responses. Try the ‘Is a TMS right for me?’ quiz to find out if a TMS is right for your organization in the short term.

Interested in finding out how a TMS can help your organization?

Get in touch, we’d love to talk more about the benefits of implementing a translation management system.