Before people from big corporations want to see my head on the stick, let me tell you: I love Excel. Seriously. It's a great piece of software, and you can really do amazing things with it.
It is a mature product, that also has initiated a hoard of lookalike, wannabees and similar products. All of which are good (or at least okay-ish) in some way. All of which do the same thing, in some way.
And yes, if you are tracking your own private finance for example, it's a great piece of software where you can put your income, expenses, and see how you will come out at the end of the month.
My problem is not with Excel itself (nor any other spreadsheet software).
Because it's not. Maybe it was a Translation Management System replacement back in 1989 or even 1999 but today? Sorry. It just won't work like that.
So in the first post in our "WTF" series, I'll try to go and understand people who say that it's enough for their company.
What is really scary, is that these people are not 80 years old "bring back the typewriter for translations" type. It's not the technophobes who hate CAT, who don't use MT, and often even mix those two. No! It's the Gen X or even Millennials - read - still the majority of the powerful working force in their 30s-40s and early 50s...
People who come to me and say: "I can do fine with my excel. I just hate that I have to spend 3 days every month with finance, invoicing clients, checking for errors in vendor invoices... " but when I present them with my MiniTPMS card, they continue: nonono, I don't need TMS or TPMS (call it like you want) because we're a small company and there is no use for it.
Now if you don't value your time enough to try and save those 3 days each and every month and spend it on your kung-fu lessons, or with your kids, or with your partner I'm not the one to tell you there is a problem in the Universe.
Even if we step outside my - probably too American - way of valuing my time too much - sorry, I really like to play with Lego more than group tasks and write invoices. That is the simple truth! And the thing is, I LIKE writing invoices! It's the best time of the month. But there are things better than that. Like binge-watching The Punisher or something - so even if we say that you are extremely organized and even more disciplined...
Maybe it's enough if you just go and put the one row in your spreadsheet every time a new task comes, and at the end of the month combine them somehow, and make invoices... maybe.
What if you have more clients?
You need to filter your clients, then make a little table for each of them separately, with all the good numbers and dates and prices and wordcounts or whatever units you are working on...
Which reminds me, how will you put the different units, prices, dates, all in one spreadsheet row, especially if it was a huge job and you had to outsource it to more colleagues, and what if the unit you get from your customer is A, and the one you pay your outsourced vendors is B (for example: words / characters, words / pages, etc. as every country, vendor and client has their own liking). What then?
Even if you have all that sorted out by some magical tricks... tricks that only you and nobody else in the universe understand, there is still a ton of things we need to address.
Heck, you need a separate spreadsheet for each and every task. Maybe even multiple ones for each task. And when sending them to different people you really need to pay attention not to do more harm than good. And Sharing is a myth. (Okay, to be fair this is possible in some versions of spreadsheet software - but it is still very very far from ideal)
This list is just too long.
I deeply believe it's a mindset thing. Not having a TMS. It's just in your head, because you think it's useless, it's expensive, and it will complicate your life.
But what if it isn't? What if it helped?
The solution is to embrace technology and not fear it. To accept that our work has become harder, faster and cheaper, and we need more sophisticated tools if we still want to be able to kick in the ball in the translation game.
When you are a PM or an owner of a translation company that has 7 Project Managers and deals with hudreds of thousands words a year the price of ours will be less than your phone bill.
When you look deep into your soul, then the only thing you will say is:
"I don't need a TMS. But I want one!"
If you want one, click on the link above. Or, there is another opportunity:
Contact me directly if you want a special price (subject to some really harsh cowboy sheriff criteria)
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War
You know what’s the most hurtful thing in the translation industry? Besides reading something with bad grammar (yeah, sorry for mine). Or typos you correct in every Facebook feed you see? Well, it’s when you get a 2 weeks’ notice from your top employee. Who is at the same time your best translator and reviewer. And doesn’t have a stand-in in your small company.
She was the one who knew all the processes, all the tools. She was the “go-to” person for linguistic and technical question alike. And now she’s off to persuade other adventures. To build hospitals in a hidden African village. Or run marathons. Maybe become a PM for a druglord. Or, as it turns out, work for your competition. After a kick like that it’s not so easy to get back “in the game”. You feel you’re back on square one. Sounds familiar? Maybe not. Maybe not yet.
For different reasons. They feel they have achieved what they came for. They got the experience they needed. They get fed up with your Christmas Dinner party you throw every December. It's like that.
Corporations have it easy. They avoid the situation by employing more people they need. Have “expandable” employees. And a pile of cash in their bank to compensate for any kind of loss. And could be, also parties with more alcohol. But you? A small company owner? You must use better tricks.
Unless you live in prehistoric era of the early 2000's and still use a macro-filled Excel sheet for tracking translation projects, you will have to rely on the real technology of the XXI century.
Technology, if you take it by the hand, is the one thing which will save you from panicking: “What do we do now, Mel was the one who knew everything about Acme”. And the strategy is simple.
Show your customers that your company is technology based, rather than employees based.
Show technology and processes as the key factor of reliability, control, and structure. Small company owners rely too much on the knowledge and “features” of their best people, which is a mistake. A Hungarian entrepreneur, Ákos Barazsy explains this in a cruel way. But he is right. He said: “Don’t make people the product, make your technology the product”. How? By building, or implementing one.
Your mom comes into your room and the mess of Lego bricks, Monopoly money, Barbie dolls, Ken’s, drawings and pens and papers and shoes and red socks and green socks, all is gone by the time you say "Poughkeepsie". She re-creates the beauty out of something that was, in lack of better word, piles of stuff.
The books are on their shelves. In ABC order. The boxes are at the exact spot where they need to be. And all socks are paired.
In Translation industry, there’s no Big Momma to do the trick. That's pretty bad.
But there’s the next best thing called TPMS (translation project management systems, or as some call it, TMS). It is a piece of software (technology! See?) that helps you organize data. Structure them. Automate. And create order in an otherwise chaotic business.
Using TPMS is like having your own never-sleeping, never-hungry, never-sick minion person/robot/assistant/slave. Someone to look over your projects, vendors, finances, tasks, calendars. The whole business.
And You can’t trick it into messing up anything. In the past, your sister, brother, friend could come into your room and throw all your Lego boxes on the floor. But TPMS knows how to stop the chaos. It doesn’t allow throwing things around. It watches over you and your flaws, and makes sure no mistake is made. Because it works based on rules. Rules that help you save time in doing repetitive tasks, checking and double-checking.
And when someone leaves your firm to persuade their long-forgotten dream of becoming a Shaolin Kung-Fu warrior? It's like nothing happened.
You’ll be sad a little, sure, but in a blink of an eye you will have the next person take over the responsibilities of the martial-art wannabee. At the same time, you can hire a junior colleague, and start the process of teaching them the ways of Your company.
Yes, most of what TPMS does, you can also do manually.
Exactly. You can create data handling rules, e-mail templates, quotation templates, invoicing templates. But when the data needs to put to the right place? Are you sure the invoice is right? No errors in the last quote you sent? You can do it manually. But it makes a big difference if you need to spend three days doing it, or you have a technology that can do that in 4 minutes.
Maybe you want to complicate your own life by managing your business with a paper, pen, and an Excel table. Or, you could be ready to start using TMS systems and in a couple of hours start decluttering the "messy basement and get to the top floor".
TMS technology is the recipe on how to be profitable even if you’re on a shoestring budget. It saves time in administration, that you can use to find more customers to translate for them. It could automate your data entry. Projects, vendors, vendor selection, CAT tool analysis, e-mail sending, deadlines, workflows...
And in the end, it deals with financials. Accounts payable, receivable. With late payments. With chasing that Client to pay, or that Colleague to get them to send you an invoice finally...
On a long run, you'll have lightyears of advantage over other companies.
They are still in medieval times.
Focused more on chasing invoices and trying to remember their resources last name.
They have no idea how much a project really brings in, or costs.
They don’t know how much cash they will have in two months, three months’ time.
They don't have a business. They have a hobby that might pay their bills. But it's still a hobby.
And You have a real business. Your future looks bright, and they are thinking to bring the curtain down.
Sometimes I feel we'll never be able to catch-up with all the updates. So again, apologies for the delay, here's what we have been doing during summer (besides drinking margarita cocktails or beer, and eating a lot of BBQ).
Remember when... well, you probably don't but if you watched this long and boring video you might have seen, that in the beginning, our "language picker" looked like this in the past:
And I hated it, so I changed it to something else. Now it's time for you to tell me which one is better. That one above.
Or this one below:
It's the one with buttons, right? Thought so.
Cool. Let's move on.
Among other revolutionary changes and/or ideas: we changed the header to better reflect your current position within the software (this might still change a little bit), and hey, finally got that "done" ticker to work like it is supposed to. You know, remove the task from the EZ-List once it is ticked.
Now, you might not think it is too important - especially since the software was not yet in usage, but we realized: there was a huge need for some quick menu system. Of course, later we will create a fancier version, where you can customize is yourself, but for now, there's a little plus button for... lo and behold... adding new things:
Your eagle-eye sight will probably notice that not everything I mentioned in the list is actually on the picture, but trust me, the stuff is added (actually from those ancient times of before month and a half, we have yet another thing there, internally called "Stupid reporting" - more on that later)
Not all of these are used 15,000 times a day, but at least the one for Project I do find pretty much useful. Of course, in miniTPMS not everything is a project, so we needed a quick way to add a component too, which can be done of course: from the project page... but even better, from the EZ-list. Which is much cooler.
And so, just to set things straight, more smaller and smaller things were done during this time:
- deleted unnecessary static text from the Software because who needs it, right?
- removed the possibility to duplicate client name (hopefully it works)
- removed address as required when you are entering new vendor (you will enter it when you want to)
- Component volume pages finally got a Source Language indicator (just so you know, that kind of stuff is not obvious that it is needed)
- Vendor list was changed to show their languages, specializations, software and the fact if they are freelancers or a part of a Vendor Company
Then there was the epiphany of the following task:
What if we wanted to have a very fast way to create a Component within a project, for 6 languages, all of which share the same amount of work. Not sure if you feel me, so here's an example:
Your favourite PM Anita Acme that works for ACME of course, sends you a Translation project from English to Italian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Tagalog, Zulu and Japanese. She loves your company, and wants you to work with all these languages. All these languages have 1,000 untranslated words, and 888.60 weighted words for administration.
Often, the "very useful and utterly expensive" translation management software will force you to enter all these "jobs" separately. But in our case, we're cooler than that.
In miniTPMS you just pick the languages, and when you are entering the first numbers for the first language pairs, and tick on the "copy values to all target languages". See the two buttons in the lower left corner on the following picture:
Tick them nice little buttons, and by the miracle of copying, you will get the exact same data (wordcounts, start date, due date, etc) for all 8 that is eight languages. Read:
Whether you are creating a project for ONE language or for five or eight or seventeen, the amount of time you spend is virtually the same.
That's already a huge timesaver if you ask me. Now, okay, you can say: "what if all the languages have different wordcounts"? Well, ok. You can still copy the dates. That's also 16 less clicks than compared with the systems where you need to enter all this manually.
But even a bigger invention, one of the best since slight bread, was the introduction of HOME button (see picture, second button from the left, the one near "Menu")
This button leads immediately to, well, "dashboard" but it's actually the EZ-List for now. Because knowing what to deal with immediately this is more important than fancy charts of how much your company made in the last quarter.
Who needs dashboard filled with tons of data? Well I do, so we will be working on that too... actually, I dream of the way for the dashboard to be pretty much customisable. That's going to rock like the roll.
- created the currency page (will be very important later)
- start date is always auto-populated with "current date and time" (you can of course change it manually)
- workflow tasks can be rearranged when creating workflows
- workflow got an "invoice task" trigger which will be used later for Finance module
- we continued mocking up the Finance module (which is a huge one - maybe you remember some part of it from the old post on finances for translation agencies - which was changed in the meantime of course - and it is going to take some time to finish... )
- changed the look of Client PM list to show: name, email, phone, business name and status (active or inactive --> determins if the PM can be chosen from a list when creating new project, or component)
... much more stuff that I don't want to bore you to death with.
So basically that is it, but of course, it wouldn't be the same without good old bugs. So among 10,000 that we fixed there was the one about duplicated-deleted-component that we squashed, and then another one on workflows, and proably 9,888 more that I don't want to bother you with.
That was the summer for MiniTPMS the awesome tool for running and administering your translation agency, and, as always, we still have our Early Adopters Club open for you... if you are interested in it, check it our here with all them pricing and a sad story of an over-worked person.
And if you want more of this, then read all our documentation on progress here.
They say: "Smart people learn from their own mistakes. Wise people learn from other people's mistakes."
As much as I'd like to think that I'm smart, or want to believe I could be also wise one day (just lack that 10,000 hours of meditation in the depths of some cave in Tibetan mountains), sometimes it doesn't work out.
You know when you are deep in a big-big project, lots of "moving parts" as they say, and somehow you miss to see one important client request.
You keep them in the palm of your hand (or, for that matter they keep you there) but you are so busy doing your ting, that you forget to fix all the details...
Which in our case was a miscommunicated case of whether we are to provide a native editor for the translation, or they will.
It wasn't the end of the world, and we soon realised this mistake and were able to still fix it (read: find a suitable colleague who can do the job), but I hated the feeling.
And I hated it that a small mistake like this can break the trust of your customers, and have them reconsider if you and your company is reliable enough for bigger projects.
An unhappy customer is no child's game.
All because of one information that was skipped.
These are the moments when You realise something in your process has to be changed.
And the best way to start is to create good communication channels.
Why is this important?
My personal experience shows that Sharing information often is easy, but it is tricky.
We know that it is important, and you are on alert: you get an important mail, you read it, try to remember it, and try to also remember to send it to your colleagues.
And then comes the tricky part:
Having those information SEEN is much more important.
And by sending only a short e-mail about it, especially if you deal with more than three projects, could lead to the information to be skipped, forgotten, deleted, misplaced, turned off, marked as read, archived.
Especially on Friday when your colleagues are already in the Bar in their minds, while their bodies are still glued to the wrong chair in the office.
Is there a problem with your colleagues? Translators? Vendors?
Of course NOT.
The problem is the e-mail correspondence.
You're getting e-mails from 20,000 places daily, and they are all important and urgent and great (like the mails from MiniTPMS, khm!), but it's just so easy to skip over it and leave it in oblivion.
Because another one comes and it's even more important. "Importanter".
This might sound to you like a broken record, but the solution is to put this information into miniTPMS:
Because once it is there, it is visible, and all the parties involved are able to see what needs to be seen!
Oh and, did you just realise it totally eliminates the need to write another 54 e-mails to your colleagues, vendors, clients, etc? All the people involved in the same project will automatically see this.
How's that for saving you time (and electrons)?
You wanna it? You-can-have-it for peanuts now:
Let me ask you something: When will it stop. The madness, I mean?
When will the madness stop?
So all those TMS systems and their developers that thought that everything in the world is just another project can go somewhere and sit in the dark in silence. You know. Not to annoy any more people, because they might end up beaten up.
Truth is, internally between us best Translation Project Managers we still call everything that we work on "a Project" so maybe in a way, they are right. But in our hearts, we know that a Project is actually something much bigger than that 44th iteration of the same Agency, same PM, same EndClient, same Software to use, same Workflow to use, same everything except that it's now called:
Fragus 45.1 and has 300 untranslated and 271.35 weighted words, and the five similar things before were Fragus 45.0, Fragus 44.9, Fragus 44.7, Fragus 46 and Fragus 45.5.
Why am I so pissed of, then? Well hardly all of them Fragus things (btw, I have no idea if there is actually a company named that, or if it means something - hopefully it doesn't mean anything in the line of offending someone to death), so hardly is every of the Fragus things a new project.
They are just iterations of a long time ago established Bigger Project...
Here's a real life example
My colleague Ivana who is in charge for coordinating projects for our very small but beautiful company has got one project the other day. For one language. Let's pretend it's English to German.
Then a couple hours later, same project came for another language. Let's say it's English to French
Then in 3 hours same project came for English to Bulgarian, the third language that we still cover for this company...
And all that is great.
Except the fact that 99% of TMS systems are not capable of spotting duplicates.
And we used to use one of those systems.
So instead of having one project with three languages, we had three projects with a same name, for one language.
Which is Redundant. Stupid. Time Consuming. Counterproductive. Annoying. Poorly executed. And bad programming.
Ivana asked me how big of a deal it is, because in the end, she can delete the duplicate projects, and put new languages (and all their data, again) to the one created initially but I said no, we already spent too much time on these things, so let's just leave it like that.
Just imagine the time lost entering all the data again and again: Project name, Client, End Client, Project Manager, Prices, Start dates, Due dates, etc.
Three times. Everything. That's a lot of "empty" if you ask me. Empty being, you know. Useless.
Now if you are covering one language or two, you can get away with it.
But if you are covering 15 languages (the biggest we ever had to cover as a small company that offers only 6 languages by default, was 17 languages), this thing would have been entered 15 times! Even choosing the favourite Italian PM by the name Managero Favoritto is painful.
And also, it creates a lot more work for the owner (if it's a really small agency) or the Finance department when the Purchase Orders need to be filled in - you need to enter it 17 times again, and then when invoicing your Clients... but hey, we lived through it.
But only because I have this vision.
And yes, it's the vision of miniTPMS in its full capacity.
So you probably can guess, this kind of redundant work, this kind of overhead, and time-wasting process will NEVER be allowed in miniTPMS.
Because what we are creating is aimed to shorten the time you work on your administration, and not triple it. Because it is supposed to have all the relevant data on one place and not in three projects with the same name. And finally because having them all on one place makes it easier to spot patterns (more on that later).
Apart from the fact that we're grouping work in a different way than all other TMS systems combined: those miniTPMS Users who work for same clients a lot, clients who send them similar projects, or small 44th and 45th iterations of chunks of one big project, those will really have a blast.
In the immortal words of Chandler Bing: OH, MY, GOD!
If you are working like this, "mini" could really change your life.
If you start using miniTPMS, I need the cheezy cliché here: it's going to be The First Day Of the Rest of Your Life.
If you want to know how to do that, all you need to do is go here, and read if it's a good fit:
I know, I know, the silence in the last couple of months didn't really help. But that doesn't mean we have been doing nothing, so now I am writing this post to break the silence and let you in "under the hood" of miniTPMS creation. Our work currently looks like this:
A lot of people from all around the world helping each other fixing the light-bulb of our software. Awesome. But three months is a long period of time. Maybe we have forgotten all what we did back then (in Internet time 3 months is like 500 years).
No, we didn't forget because luckily, we have documented our progresses, our ups and downs, so this post doesn't have to be written just "out of the top of my head".
But first, if you have not seen this kind of posts before, you can check all miniTPMS progress posts here.
So, what has happened between April and June? Was it all good? Was it all bad? Well... a little bit of this, a little bit of that, as people say.
The bad stuff
We have had some trouble with finding the right person for Front End development. FE is basically a part of the programming that is more visible, it's what users see and what they like or dislike in a software. But it's more than just UI and UX development, especially in a software this complex.
And the problems occurred when I wanted to implement some really fancy features, such as "drag-and-drop" for example, which for some people is a challenge to implement. It might seem very basic and obvious to us, users, but from a development point of view you really need a good developer to be able to do everything in a way you wanted it. You have to have people who know what they're doing.
Luckily, we found a great colleague who we work with now, and he is helping us create amazing things. Fast, and in a good fashion.
Looking for this person took us a little back in progress, not everything went so fast as I imagined it would, but once we got back on track, things began to happen faster.
On to the good stuff
First of all, there were two really good news, at least, from the basic PR perspective of miniTPMS. On May 20th we made it into Jost Zetzsche's 274th Tool Box Journal (if you don't know what it is, you can check it out right here).
We had a little chat with Jost before, and agreed that "mini" is not yet developed enough to get full attention, but at least he mentioned it. Here's what he said:
Tool Box Journal
The other developer I talked to is the guy behind MiniTPMS, Nenad Andricsek. Nenad loves numbers and what they mean for your business, which he thinks is going to be one of the main differentiators of his system. His system, which will be officially released within the next couple of weeks, will also be cloud-based and available for both freelancers and small agencies. More on that once he can actually show us something.
Well, he was mostly right. Couple of weeks from end of May turned into twice the time to launch alpha (a version that nobody should use just yet), and another month and a half or so to launch officially in August with the basic setup.
Also, I have my reservations how the usual freelancers would benefit too much of this, but those who outsource, which is just a fancy name for a micro translation agency, could see some serious improvement using "mini".
On June 13th we made it into Slator, which is basically a go-to webpage for news and articles about our industry. That was a good feeling too!
Read the complete article here.
Let's get on to what we have created in this period. Because of all the lack of personnel and a bunch of annoying bugs - as41y well as lack of couple of hundreds of thousands of dollars that I have to put into the development, this wasn't the most productive three months, but still I think we did a pretty decent job.
Here's an unfinished list with some highlights:
These might seem small in an eye of the User, but there's huge advantage of having these things setup in the appropriate way. Of course, it doesn't mean that we won't be changing it maybe later down the line, but for now, the basic functionality is top priority.
And that was achieved.
We also made available creating a Component directly from the Projects page. And for that, we needed the project page to load all the available components for the chosen project - again, simple thing, but in the beginning not everything works as you imagined it would.
But one of the biggest thing was that we started working on Workflows, which was then finished in July so it made it into the next Monthly Update thing. Here is a look at the Moqup that we used to create the actual functionality:
Other Design and Moqups
As we can't really work with just simple 3 line instructions like in some companies (though, I think I am still to see one that functions like that), a lot of our ideas go through the so callde Mockup page. We use a software called Moqup (it's online of course) to outline how a screen should look like, and then we pack it with trillion of comments explaining what should go where.
So we started outlining some of the coolest features in this period already (because this has to be done at least couple of weeks in advance anyway, to let it settle and to be able to discuss it with the dev team)
So we created a moqup for EZ Project List (read our July update to see how this list works).
We also started outlining some of the pricing and finance features. Basically it was changing the one's we already did before, so now you can expect your Component finance structure to look something like this within a Component. Sorry for the slightly small picture, but I wanted to capture it all into one screen... it will be explained better once we create the real thing. Or click on it to see it in almost full size.
And that's it. Time files when you're having fun, and when you have 500 bugs to fix, but the end is always awesome. Because you have a working program that people can use, and use it with delight (at least we do so 🙂 )
If you want to join our Early Adopter Club and pay a fraction of the actual price for the software, click here and read the story.
Howdy, my cowboy friend - you know that we around here are all cowboys (and girls) and I'm the Sheriff, but one of those kind types... you know, not killing people immediately when something isn't to my liking.
That doesn't mean I don't talk dirty, though, and this one today might sound a little harsh for many of you, but hey, if you weren't aware let me break it down for you:
The translation industry is one of the most competitive industry in the world. Well, apart from weight loss probably and you know, that industry of looking at naked people doing weird things with one another.
But after that, I believe we're quite good in the "let's kill the competition" department.
So, yes, competitive. Very competitive.
In order to make it in this world, where everybody is a translator and every client believes everybody is a translator... "hey, you speak two languages, can you translate this German to Tagalog for me please? I need it by tomorrow, it's only 43 pages...", well, you and me we definitely need some serious tricks.
Or some serious marketing.
The good news is, you and I are aware of this. Lucky for us, most of the servicing companies aren't. Just look at their websites. All they know is to say: "we provide best quality for our clients".
As we already talked about, quality should be given. It's not a competitive advantage anymore. It just simply is not enough.
Clients care much more for other things:
But what is even more important, they just want their things 100% done, all the time. And for sure, they don't want You, and they don't want Your people... why?
Because people are - unfortunately - unpredictable. You never know when they will leave pursuing other adventures in life. Or they get bored and lose interest. Or they just have a bad day. Or they turn into psychopaths.
Clients, on the other hand, still need their things done.
Even when you're sick, or you took the kids to school. Or you are on vacation.
And they get mad, and start yelling at you:
So what if you could offer them something else then just you or your people. Something with rock-solid reliability based on proven methods and not "Peter will get this done, he's our best guy" kind of a deal?
Yes, I'm talking about the help of modern technology, about specialized software that can register, administer, and streamline all your and your clients data so you don't have to depend on anyone. Not even yourself.
Because let's face it, sometimes You would just rather stay in bed!
We all have days like that.
But clients don't care.
And if they get annoyed too much, they will go shop somewhere else ...
Unless they are not aware of your "days off" when you are either bing watching "The Sopranos" on DVD or play golf with your buddies from The Banking Sector.
If you have a system that replaces all the flaws we humans can make, you will have their love, and you will have your company all set to serve more and more clients.
Don't give "Jenny" or "Bob", your favourite Project Managers to your clients.
Give them assurance that both Jenny and Bob can do the same thing in your company.
Give them your processes, your tools, and mostly your technology.
Technology you can rent here for peanuts:
When we were kids, well, college kids, we used to be great philosophers.
For example: We called every person with bags under the eyes "the Devil". Why? Well, because "the Devil never sleeps", hence the bags...
Oh those were beautiful, relaxed times.
Nowadays, the sleep deprivation I hear the most is about being a (young) parent. Which doesn't mean you're young. No. No-no-no. You could be as old as fuck, or, as we like to say: as old as Mick Jagger (he has a new baby at the age of 73) and then, you know, not sleep because your kid has a different kind of thoughts what can, should, and must be done at certain times.
For example, my beautiful crazy lovely daughter. She wouldn't go to sleep until 10PM, because why not to play with mommies nerves and daddies wristwatch. She's kind of crazy about my watch - probably because it's awesome, and it shows time too. Then when she does go to sleep there is finally a little time to do some administrative work, or maybe catch up on my reading (I promised myself to read at least 2 books a month, well, so far I'm not really doing a good job).
Trouble is when you do stuff late at night, things can get forgotten or skipped or you just write them down on the wrong place. It's kind of losing a little control over the whole damn process.
At 2:00AM there is still a little text to be translated - and your family is already too mad at you, but you have to finish it, because you have a deadline. So at 2:30 you finally finish in hope of a quick sleep and pray to God that nobody will wake you up until at least 9:00AM. Because 6,5 hours of sleep is more than enough, right?
But hell-no, the kids, as You already know, have their own thoughts on that. And in these times they like to wake up at 6:00AM and yell. And demand breakfast. Or yell at the breakfast because they didn't want that kind of breakfast.
Ah, the beauty of life.
But at least you can now start working again, if you could remember your notes and where did you put them... because if not you just feel like those alienated people who don't understand the world around them.
It's a mess.
Unless you have minitpms, because there, everything is on one place, easily trackable, easily accessible, and never misplaced.
So even if you don't get enough sleep, you can still be at the top of your game.
And that for sure, makes it awesome.
If you want to be the top player, check the prices before they go up again (and soon, they will) :
"I worked 10 hours a day to become a manager. Now I can finally work 14 hours a day" (Anonymous)
There's a ton of interesting topics on how to be a manager, to be a leader or to be the boss. What to do. How to do it. The problem is, all those fancy inc-com magazine publications are created for hipster manager wanabees, moreover, for those who want to manage a "startup" of 500 people or a Fortune 500 company and have a salary of $1,200,000 a Year. You and I know there is only a handful of people who can do that.
Despite the fact, that the thought seems interesting at certain times, small business owners could never really grasp that, or implement in their lives.
What it would be like? To be the CEO. A real one. With hundreds of people that report to you. Well, You won't find the answer to that question in this post. Let's leave that to people who are born to be "slaves to corporations" (not that I have anything against corporations, don't get me wrong).
On the other hand, the small business managers are the backbone of the economy. It's the small business that makes the world go round, we represent a much bigger part of the working force than the top CEOs and their employees.
And often, we own our businesses. Which means every decision is crucial. You can't go wrong and get fired. You go wrong here, and both you and your colleagues are fired.
Do you know who is The Manager With the Lowest Salary in the World?
Let's hope it's not you. Hear this:
In any company, it is always the Manager who's time is the most expensive.
It's not your consultants, the best Project Managers, the best colleagues etc. Even if it might seem so, because your top tanslators made 3x more than you did in the last two months (which is sometimes the case), even then, You are the one pulling the strings, and driving your company forward without stopping.
Or driving it into bankruptcy.
You know, like you have a V6 Aston Martin without the Break pedal. Forget that pedal. There's only Full Throttle ahead! And it's very important to know, which direction you are driving towards.
But, working like that requires sacrifice, requires determination and in the beginning, requires a lot of time.
So you are willing to work overtime, doing tasks that could easily be outsourced, or, automated. Tasks that could be finished faster if you had a software to help you with that.
Tasks you hate, but you do it. Because it has to be done.
Tasks that are same, month in, month out, and you know it inside out but it still takes you too much time to do is.
One day at a month. Or two. Or more.
That's 24 days a year. A month a year that went into the gutter...
So what if some of that time could be bought with a simple system that won't cost you an arm and a leg?
What if you could buy time like a Boss and go play with your kids, or watch the 3rd season of The Affair instead of working until 22:00 in the office. On Weekends.
You know how we are creating funny memes about people in the translation business working 0-24? Well who's fault is that?
But this is not the time for memes. This is the time for decisions...
Time to decide whether you want to invest in a company management system or not. I'm not talking about miniTPMS only, you can invest in any other translation management system too.
So you go and bite the bullet and decide to pay the $97 a month, or $197 a month (with "mini" we're still not there, but that seems to be a pretty acceptable ... actually very small price to pay)
Now that might seem like a lot of money, but compare it to your Phone bill, Netflix, Electricity. This is just another utility bill you need to pay. And instead of taking away your time, this one buys-you-time.
I sound like a broken record, I know, but for me, time is very important. Especially since my baby girl was born - you know, trying to spend the most of the time together until the moment she starts hating me for no particular reason.
Because puberty happens.
Whether you are an employee or an owner, time is the only thing you can't get back. Ever. It might seem too "American" to calculate time with cold hard cash, but in the end, this is what it comes to.
Because if you can't make enough money, and you can't even have enough time for your beloved ones - and I fear this is often the case with small translation agency owners - then you have just became the most expensive liability of your own company.
As a manager, if you are overworked it is a huge problem
You are the one in charge of better marketing, client acquisition (hey, let's call it sales), client relations, and everything else that might/should/would push your company forward at least a little bit.
Sure, you can do it with pen and paper. Or with an excel table of some sort.
Then you just clone yourself, like Michael Keaton in the movie Multiplicity and all is good.
But if you are somewhat a realist, you know it's either living in the fantasy land, or knowing you need business decisions right now.
And better sooner, than later to realize you need a tool to organize your agencies work completely. You need a TMS. Why?
Because you're the boss, and every serious company has some sort of an ERP.
Because it's cool.
Because it shows you all the current works. And past ones.
And income and revenue and expenses and it has fancy little graphs.
Because it automates e-mails for you.
Because it organizes your complete business and you can watch cute cats on Facebook while your system works day and night for you... and sends those emails too.
Or you know, You go out and play with your kid. Or with your cat. From Facebook.
Okay. You do all your stuff on your own. You don't need a paid system because you keep it all in your head. You have absolute control and you love it.
In which case, well, you ain't gonna go skiing with us in Austria, because you will be stuck between the four walls of your office forever. Doing tedious tasks you hate.
Is that an answer to a common question of: "where do you see yourself in 5 years"? I don't have time for TMS because I need to write these invoices manually?
Is this how you want your life to continue? "All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy"
It's either skiing in Kaprun, or you stay up late with your laptop.
It's either fishing with your kids (while they are still interested in you), or working overtime on Saturday because the Accounting team needs everything by Monday Morning.
It's either taking the afternoon off and going to a late lunch/early dinner with your husband/wife - because love knows no boundaries, and doesn't care 'bout business hours - or it's another day when you are late for dinner because someone misplaced a file and you can't find it and the Client deadline is approaching...
It's either You get it, or not.
It's simple as that.
I certainly didn't. It was back in 2007, only a year after me, the "Corporate robot" left that world, and started working "on my own" or you know, as they like to say "I started working for myself" (what a load of crap... I'll tell you why later).
Anyway, so, the first one... yes.
A client approached with a project, small one, and urgent. Like there was any other projects in the world we know (do you?). And an additional requirement.
Now, we have been using a different CAT tool in "my previous life", and it wasn't any news that companies wants us to use it. It's helpful. It's ok. I hold no grudges against CAT tools.
But I never thought how hard it would be if I had to buy one. For my own company.
My first company. My first Trados.
Little did I know what "investment" means.
Ok, of course I knew. But it just didn't work that way in my mind.
Being the first generation of company owners is tough. When it doesn't run in the family, it's not so easy. When your dad can't teach you that it is okay to spend thousands and thousands on software, or people, or other assets, you kind of feel like you are being robbed. At the time we didn't have project managers, coordinators, we didn't have savings in the bank. All we had was a little faith.
With that setup it's not so hard to start thinking, why would I spend that much - hard earned, or better yet, not even earned - money on something that will either be used, or not.
While today I know that it was a very good idea to do so, at the moment I was both annoyed, angry and very scared.
Like, why in the world would they require us to use this (at the moment I thought: "stupid") tool? Who do they think they are? Also, the cost was like EUR 800 or something, and I knew it's not the end of it. Since then at least 6 major new releases came to life, and I'm talking only the simple "translators" version, not the Server. Why would anyone buy that? Why? WHY?
When you go from being paid immediately (like in the "salary" model) and having that "secure job" and not giving a damn... at 5PM "the pencil falls out of your hand" and you go home to watch TV and drink beer...
The switch from that to the "uncertain client jobs" and 60 day payment terms, and contracts, and ISO stuff, and audits. When you are just starting out, well, 800 EUR is a helluvalot of ca-ching.
And of course, the revenue on the first project we got didn't even scratch the surface of "it will pay for it self" sentence - even at the beginning, clients used to send us very small projects at first, and the "normal" projects came only later...
But down the line it was one of the most profitable decision I made.
Eventually, it was something I could explain as growing a pair, and taking a calculated risk - at least it seemed so at the time. When you wake up one day and say "okay, let's do this and figure it out later". And I took the plunge, and spent the money, and... the rest is history.
Contrary to popular beliefs, Trados is a pretty good tool and it did save us a lot of time, money, frustration.
And it saved us a lot in the end too, because I could use our own memories for repetitive projects from one of our end clients.
Today, with long standing client relationships and several years of working together, this couldn't have happened, I would have informed them about the CAT memories we could use 'n all. But for small jobs, this came in handy.
Being paid little, but doing it in 10% of the original time needed, makes the thing worth you a while. And you need to make money. You need to eat. So down the line, the calculation was right. The risk we have taken turned out not to be a risk after all.
This story reminded me of how people who are on the fence with miniTPMS must feel right now. Maybe you feel the same. You are interested, but not yet sure. Intrigued, but the risk seems big. Even though the financial impact is not even close to the types of buying a new CAT tool...
The questions you probably are asking yourself are:
It's always hard to bring yourself to a decision like this.
Because it's not a small decision.
I mean, what if it really does all that crazy stuff.
Man, it could really put your company to a path of ultimate success.
And you know, some people just can't handle so much success. But maybe you could. Maybe you are the one who can handle it!
The question is: Will you let miniTPMS be your first?