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What features does a translation management system offer?
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Aleix Gwilliam
AuthorAleix Gwilliam
Reading time 7 minutes

A Translation Management System (TMS) is a software application or platform used to manage translation projects and processes. It serves as a centralized hub where translators, project managers, and clients can collaborate and manage various aspects of translation projects. Below we’ve listed some of the key features a TMS must have. Given the nature of globalization programs, your TMS has to be future proofed for at least 18 months. This will mean that you have the functions you need right now, but also some that you may not use at this point but that you will need as your localization maturity grows

Does each content type have a different translation process within a TMS?

Here is a non-exhaustive list of what you should find in most Translation Management Systems. This section will help you familiarize yourself with the functionality and key terminology used in this industry. 

Translation Memory
A Translation Memory, or TM, stores previously translated segments or sentences. When a new translation is required, the TM suggests it to the translator as a 100% match if it’s exact (no work needed) or what’s known as a “fuzzy match” if it’s partially similar (some post-editing needed). This allows translators to leverage and reuse existing translations, saving time and effort by not having to translate segments from scratch if they were already fully or partially translated in the past, and also ensure consistency in all their content.
CAT tool
A CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) tool is a key feature in any TMS, forming its own environment in conjunction with other tools (see below). It shows the source and target language. It can include an in-context view tool which helps linguists see what their translations look like in the original layout. It is worth noting that some TMSs can integrate multiple CAT tools to allow linguists to work in their preferred environment.
Workflow Management
A TMS gives specific users with the right permissions the ability to manage a project’s workflow. This workflow management includes defining tasks, assigning resources. The level of flexibility and automation in workflow management varies among different TMSs. In recent years, high customization of workflow steps and automatic running of next steps and trolling back features have been requested by end users, as they allow for greater flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances on the fly and the nature of each project.
File management
In a TMS you can upload, store, and organize translation files such as documents, spreadsheets, or multimedia files like videos. It provides a centralized platform for all language assets, making it easy to share files within the TMS instead of relying on email or other communication channels.
Collaboration and Communication
Translators and project stakeholders can communicate, ask questions, and provide feedback within a TMS. The collaboration and communication functionality can range from simple chats to more advanced query management systems. Efficient communication in query management is key in localization, as it’s one of the more time-consuming processes. This allows everyone involved in the localization process to communicate on a single platform, removing the risk of messages not reaching all users or getting lost in email inboxes.
A TMS can integrate with other platforms which play a part in the global content-creation process, such as content-authoring tools, machine translation engines, or translation tools like QA. Some of these integrations come with the TMS, while others may require custom development or add-ons. It’s important to consider the integrations you need before choosing a TMS. Integration with other software platforms is a key requirement of any good TMS. It streamlines workflows, improves speed and efficiency, and ensures consistency throughout the translation and localization process.
Terminology Management
Terminology databases store approved terminology and enforce specific vocabulary and terminology guidelines by flagging forbidden terms or incorrect translations of key terms in the CAT tool to ensure their correct use. They help linguists maintain consistency in translated content.
Quality Assurance
TMSs have built-in Quality Assurance (QA) tools, such as spell-checkers, grammar checkers, and error reports. These tools are part of the CAT-tool environment mentioned earlier and are used by translators and reviewers. Similar to the suggestions you’d get in Microsoft Word, these features identify and correct errors, improving the overall quality of translations.
Linguistic Quality Assurance
Linguistic Quality Assurance (LQA) is the process of evaluating the linguistic accuracy, consistency, and overall quality of your translated content, based on each vendor. Good translation tools include LQA features to help you identify linguists with the highest scores in terms of quality and punctuality, for example.
Reporting functionalities in a TMS include information on project progress, translation volumes, productivity metrics, quality assessment results, and other relevant data. They enable project managers and stakeholders to generate reports on various aspects of translation projects, and provide valuable insights for project management, budgeting, and decision-making.
Finance Management
Some translation tools offer finance management features to assist with the financial aspects of translation projects. These features can include budgeting tools, cost estimation, invoice generation, and expense tracking related to translation work. Finance management capabilities in translation tools help you get a clearer idea of your spending and calculate your return on investment (ROI).
Vendor Management
With a TMS, you should be able to easily assign translation tasks to internal linguists and specific vendors, such as Language Service Providers (LSPs). The TMS allows you to track their progress and communicate project requirements and feedback. It also enables vendor performance evaluation based on metrics like quality, adherence to deadlines, and cost-effectiveness. A good TMS should be vendor agnostic to enable you to work with whoever you choose.

Expert tip

Mikołaj Lauer
Mikołaj Lauer

The translation process and establishing your translation program can seem daunting, so take it one step at a time. Evaluate your needs, budget, and target ROI before investing in a TMS, especially if you’re still learning about localization.”

Mikołaj Lauer

Xpert at XTM International

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