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The new release of miniTPMS just rolled out to your server, so let's check some cold hard facts about it.
First of all, check if you have the good release, if not, please contact support immediately and we'll fix your instance.
Remember that in miniTPMS everybody gets a whole instance of a server, it's not all one database one server, so this is why it's important to check this out. Like, rightnow.
Let's dive in.
You might argue if this is major, but in our mind it is, because it took us too long to do it, and also, it pretty much affected the database, so there might be some actions needed from you.
What does that mean? It means that unlike before, where you had three or four steps in the Workflow (for example: translation, editing, proofread, courier delivery), but only one set of "client numbers" for each component (for example, 5,000 words for translation), now you have the opportunity to set separate numbers for each step:
- 5,000 words to translate, 5,000 words for editing, 5 hours of proofread and a fix amount for courier delivery
Why is this important?
Firstly, because sometimes clients DO pay for extra activities. Like legal review, or courier delivery. Now you will be able to set separate values for this and have them (soon) appear in the billable part of your finances.
While TEP is maybe charged just as one price to your client, maybe the Courier Delivery in our example needs an additional EUR 10 or something.
Do I really need to do something?
If you are using the reporting feature to create reports for your customers right now, then yes. I know it's not ideal, but life is hard 🙂 And until we don't have the appropriate finances in motion, I still prefer using this "simple stupid report" to send to my clients and let them approve our costs.
So, if you do this, then you need to "fix your numbers", but if you are not using the reporting feature for Clients then just skip the next couple of paragraphs!
What action should you take?
This database update affected the way the projects are represented in the reports, because the numbers were copied into each and every task in the language pair of one Component.
If you don't have it in your head (and why would you if you have miniTPMS with you), You should run your client reports - for those clients where your workflows consist of more tasks - from the start date when you started using the software, until "today".
Check for duplicate rows, such as:
As you can see, in this instance your client ELLIE will be shown 3x the numbers in the summary, because all of the workflow steps now have the same wordcount in them. Fix it like this: Go into the appropriate component, and tweak the numbers. For example, put 0 for Client numbers for Edit and Review parts. Then when you create the next report, the summary will be OK.
Of course, if you charge separately for all three tasks, then leave it like this.
Is this a problem?
No, because now you know how to fix it, and only need to fix it if it affects you.
And it won't be a problem in the future either, because once we roll out the Finance module, only "billable" tasks will be shown on the reports (actually, you will have the options to show all or only billable)
Also, this only affects client reports, so there is no action needed on the vendor side.
And now it is much nicer, check it out:
Let's move on to the small things.
Announced tab on Dashboard has been renamed to "Other". Small change, but serves a greater purpose. Because when you change the status of the component to any of the new statuses.
Old Screen looked like this, it had separate tab for Announced projects, but we realized it's not really useful. The one for Unassigned is very useful, though, especially for us, PMs who forget to give out work to appropriate people:
So after a little thinking, we created the New Screen. All the tasks that are "On Hold", or "Announced", or "Cancelled" (like, those dead projects just before deletion) are in this tab... and the unassigned ones remained where they are. Because they were on a good place.
And now it all looks like this:
Then there is this one more little thing with announced tasks or those that are set to be done in the future.
For now, the tasks that are upcoming in the future are shown in the Active tab, but with a small clock showing, time is of factor here, and time meaning, it starts in the future.
Now that I have completely confused you, here's a screenshot that can help you see what was being said (check at "Vendor Start Date")
Finally, something to take away redundancy in our jobs. This - speeding up project entry - is something we will be working on constantly, since it's kind of a mission of mine to make data entry as fast as humanly possible.
So... if you are working in a system where you always get a completely new project (new customers each time) then this is not for you. But many localization companies have their new "projects" being a part of one bigger, well, project (and that is why we call these small things "Components"). So you get a small chunk of the same material with a lot of redundant data. A Component of one bigger project.
This is why from the beginning we have created a system where you can enter a client (be it LSP or end-client) and an end-client separately (if you are working for LSPs) and group them within Project Code Names, and then and only then the Component starts.
And now, for each new project that you create and you know that it is a part of a "bigger deal" you can setup the following two things at the project level:
And you need to set it up only once.
For example, choose TEP as a default workflow for one particular project, and choose a Default Input Group for them too.
Next time you are creating a Component for this project, you will have TEP offered (pre-populated) at the time of creation. If you want to change it, feel free to do so, and if you forgot to change it but still need to make some tweaks, you can do it later within component.
Same goes for the Input Group. Pick the one that suits your needs, and it will always be automatically pre-populated when you are creating new numbers for your language pairs. If the next task in the workflow is in a different unit, just pick a different input group for that workflow task.
And basically that's it. For this release.
There are many more cool, cooler and amazing things to come - and if you see some of these features in other software, remember you saw it here first!
Like it, hate it? Tell me what you think, post a comment below, or write directly through our contact page. Send a pidgeon, or smoke signals, we also like telegrams, and know that faxing us is impossible because it's 2018 for God's sake!
Recently our localization industry hero Renato Beninatto (I already wrote about him here), with a help from his buddy Tucker Johnson has written a book called "The General Theory of the Translation Company".
Finally, someone who knows and understands this sh..t is writing about it, I thought.
And You won't be disappointed.
This is not a review of the whole book. If you need the complete wisdom go and buy the book, it's sold here. Well worth reading. (No, I don't get anything by promoting it. I wish I did, but I don't. It's just worth it, seriously).
And the book - because we share a lot of the same values - is the reason for this post.
The part I particularly want to talk about, well, actually two parts... so, anyway... the one thing I want to talk about, is the one that has been annoying me the most in the last 10 years. Namely: every translation agency, company, or God forbid LSP presents itself like a leading provider.
You know what I think? Double-facepalm. That's what. But it's a huge topic and I'll write a different post on this.
The second one is about the mindset, or mind-shift between a Translation Agency and Language Service Provider. This post is about the Agency vs LSP thing.
And why is it important to know which one you are.
Or which one you want to become down the line.
I know, sometimes its hard not to think of yourself as a cool Translation Agency because it has been hard-wired into our minds. In the mind of people in the translation industry, the word Translation Agency means something beautiful and nice. Something really cool. Like a Creative Agency, which generally is this great hipster company that comes up with slogans for Uber or AirBnb, or makes great commercials explaining every tv ad is actually a tide ad:
Unfortunately, people who are at the two other ends of the translation cycle: clients - and here I mean end-clients, and freelance translators alike, think that Translation Agencies are the representation of everything that is evil and wrong in this industry.
From (some) clients standpoint, Translation Agencies are:
Sounds familiar? Thought so. But there is the other part too.
From freelancer's standpoint, Translation Agencies are:
Some of this holds ground, and yes I can imagine there are agencies who really are just unnecessary middlemen who's only work is sending files and questions between clients and translators. But on a long enough time scale, those who work like that are not really good at the "survival" game. The market has it's way to filter out bad apples. If that is even a thing.
I want to think there are more of these: normal companies with good staff, good people, and a genuine mission of helping their clients while treating their colleagues right.
If you are here, deep down in your soul you know you are not one of those bad agencies, not just a simple agency. Not an agency by default.
Again, it's not the "nomen est omen" sh..t. It's the thing that we the people who work in this industry, think of translation agencies like the next coolest things after mp3, but to the outsiders, we're more like a bad Travel Agency.
And that is not the picture we want to present about ourselves. Not to our clients. Not to our freelance or in-house colleagues.
Because what do (bad) Travel Agencies do? Well... nothing. They are the typical unknowin' middlemen with underpaid and undereducated stuff, acting as an intermediary between buyers and sellers, for a hefty fee. There is no added vallue whatsoever. They connect big hotels (or something) with people who need vacation and best case scenario, they also help you with your airplane ticket. For 30% more money than you'd pay if you'd just do it on your own.
Now, before the wrath of Travel Agency people come and slaps me in the face, it's not the best travel agencies I am talking about. The best ones are getting you a better deal, giving you a representative at your destination, make your trip easier, make your insurance active and working, talk to you, give you directions, and treat you like a queen (or king, you know).
What I'm trying to say is, there's several ways of looking at this, and unfortunately, there's too many active players in both tourism and translation, where - unless you are very prepared - you can easily chose a bad one to work with, and, lo and behold. You get burned.
This kind of attitude and business model could be rare. Nevertheless it's still present.
And that is why it is super-important to have a pro-active attitude, to rise above the noise as they say. To be the best among the good ones, and it also doesn't hurt if you do a little branding, and go the extra mile (or couple of them) for your clients. Finally, they will feel that you don't act like a wise-ass with your clients but rather do what they ask you to do.
Which is the whole point of the Servicing industry. Hence providing the language services, and not only translation. Yes, translation is important and we can think about it as the most important one, but it's always a question: to whom? To the client? To you? To the translator?
There are many more steps in the LSPs life each and every day, and we need to understand that each step is important.
Many freelance translators will argue that the difference is non existent, that we (LSPs and their owners and PMs) are ruthless slave-drivers and that we should all vanish into oblivion and leave all the work to them. I'm in several Facebook groups that have more people with this mindset, than there are stars in the sky on a bright Midsummer's night.
Well. Ok. Freelancers preach their own thing because they want all the job for themselves. But what jobs? Translation only, of course!
Except, that there is no way they can do all the tasks themselves. Someone has to get those files "into motion". Someone has to pick them up from the software that is to be translated, or from the webpage. Someone has to prepare the terminology, the check the usability of a previous memory, to not forget translation is not only translation but at least TEP (*), and very often much more than that. To attach the right Style Guide to the reference materials in TMS, to create queries for clients, to know who to contact with what questions, and hey, to organise a team of people who will make all this happen. (*) If you're not sure what TEP is you might be reading a wrong blog 🙂
We didn't even start talking about clients who need translation done fast, into 26 languages, with a single point of contact. Because no, usually clients don't have huge corporate translation departments (well, some of them do), and they don't want to be bothered with it. With every small question if this dot goes there or over there. If the file they sent is really the final file, or it's just some draft that was already rewritten twenty five times.
Good clients know what they don't know. And that gives them huge advantage. They can outsource the translation process headache to professionals.
This is where a good LSP steps in. Language Services Provider companies are those who are here to utilise the best Translation Project Mangers or teams of PMs, to make the work smooth even if it has 15 steps along the way, even if it is for 17 languages and not just for one, and with a tight deadline. All that in order to make their customers happy, and hopefully a world a better place.
Within budget 😉
Personally, saying that you're a "small agency dealing with Balkan languages" (which is, for example what you do) has no negative meaning in my mind.
It's all relative. Maybe you are trying to pinpoint the fact that you don't have 40 people on staff, only 7. But in this industry, having 7 employees is not a small company (most of the translation companies have only 1 or 2 people employed, the rest are freelancers or partner companies). Maybe you feel fine with dealing with only a handful of languages, and you don't want to grow to be the new Lionbridge or God forbid, to the magnitude of Mexican Soap Opera Queen Company (with a name that has Perfect in it, but is probably far from perfect)
However, there is no need to call yourself small. Because it stops you - in your mind - from growing beyond your wildest dreams.
The negativity of the word "small" is all in our minds of course. Note to self: there might be a need to re-think the main messsage of miniTPMS. I mean, being the sexiest translation management system for small agencies is a pretty accurate explanation of what we are creating. Because generally, any agency with up to 10 people on staff could be considered small. On the other hand an agency of that size could process millions o words and make millions of USD in revenue.
So the real problem is, nobody wants to be small, or they don't want to look small when talking with potential clients. Just like guys at their first date, right? (even if size doesn't really matter... or they say it doesn't, anyway, that's another topic again)
Being small doesn't necessarily mean you are not good enough, don't sell enough, but it is true that it gives your whole company a little of a mental obstacle. It's like driving a Porsche but having your foot on the break the whole time.
It's not what you are. It's what you think you are. Because, let's face it, with a help of a little software like miniTPMS you could just as easily run projects for 15 languages as you do for one.
Sometimes we need to reinvent our own companies, and recreate the good images in the eyes of our clients. If it means we'll stop calling our companies Translation Agencies and move on to the Language Service Provider nomenclature, so be it. Your core values and your working style doesn't have to change.
It doesn't have to, but it might, once you realize there is much room for growth.
Instead of being "just an agency" you can become the cool LSP. A professional machinery in the Translation Industry. A single point of contact to several large end-clients, with technology and Project Management in place to serve their needs, with contacts with other LSPs - mostly Single Language Service Providers - and other freelance experts, and now you really can be on the way to become the next Lionbridge.
Well, once you employ a smaller army of sales personnel, but that's a story for another time...
(and if you are still here, and alive, thank you for reading, now please share, tweet, comment and print this blogpost out and give it to everyone in the world.)
Do you have a TMS? "Mini" is being created especially for companies who employ 2-10 people, who work for big LSPs and End Clients alike. Making project tracking a child's game, invoicing easy and tracking beautiful. Sounds good? Here's what you need to do:
Click here now and join other colleagues who are reading my tips! Find our deepest secrets on the idustry, and get a special discount on minitpm.
Welcome to the miniTPMS construction site. As you know, lately I am lagging with creating the monthly updates, but now finally I took some strength and decided to write a big one, for the whole last Quarter of 2017.
A lot of stuff happened, but I'll try to keep it simple and to the point, and not to get crazy with 5,000 words of blabbering. Btw. if you want to see other posts on progress, check the link at the end of the post.
This is also a perfect time to introduce introduce new prices for our TMS. Why? you might ask yourself. Well, because we're doing this from time to time. We, as a team spend a lot of time and effort in creating something useful for small Language Service Providers. When you check the post and see what we have done, you might think that this is not much. But bare in mind that it's already March 2018, so I'm just going to bluntly say: you ain't seen nothing yet.
Let's dive in. What happend in four months from September to December (except Christmas, and getting fat, of course).
We started using the software in September 2017 and this was the greatest test of usability. Along with the feedback from some of our members of the Early Adopters Club we were able to prioritise a lot of tasks.
Here are the smaller and bigger tweaks in a nutshell:
Note the change of the name of "Announced" tab into "Other". This requires explanation, but everything in it's own time.
So what else was done?
That was the part of fixin' the existin' but we have also introduced a "stupid simple reports" because we need that kind of stuff for charging clients and sending the list of finished tasks to Vendors.
In terms of actual PO and Invoicing this is still baby shoes, it's pre-history, but it is also almost on par with any excel based system. Actually, we can export that list into Excel and send it to colleagues, vendors, clients for checking. Then they either approve it, or cry that it's not good because something is missing, or something is added twice.
Yes, we have great vendors who tell us when we want to pay them for more than they did, and I am eternally grateful to them.
Here's how Stupid Simple Reportings work:
The biggest thing, though, was the start of refactoring the database which went from the beginning of December and continued through January. Why? Because we needed much more flexibility in workflow management than initially anticipated.
Without having to explain too much, let's just say that now you will be able to set different numbers for each step of the workflow (for example: 10,000 words for translation, 10 hours of editing, 3 hours of DTP, and 1 piece of Postal Cost) and you will also be able to either charge (or not) each step of the workflow to your client, or only some of them.
That is very powerful, especially when you have clients with special projects and particular needs.
But that is the only way to have an adaptive translation company, one that can attend to needs of any client.
Along with the database change, we have been refactoring the main project page so that it better reflects all the new data for any of your Components. This went deeply into January too, but I'm still showing it here because the concept was born in December.
The main look is like this now:
As you can see the Workflow tasks went into the top of the page.
Also we created a simple component picker at the top right corner, where you can easily pick any other component from the same project (this is especially useful if you have many components that you are working on).
The language pairs went into tabs (so if you have more you'll have more tabs). Let the "Show/Hide" button remain a mystery for now 🙂
But without mystery, the three small icons after the numbers are: comment on the language pair (set with editing this task), and then project / component description, and project/component special instructions, as shown in the three screenshots:
Ignore that it says description, it should say "Language Pair Comment" 🙂
Oh, the bugs we find, everywhere, anywhere.
And that's it for this edition.
If you are still alive, not sleeping and reading this, I thank you for your time. Hope that you - as many other members of EAC club - will soon be able to see behind the chaos and rise above the noise and if you are still not in the club, you'll want to join it here.
Remember one thing: early adopter members are not paying for what MiniTPMS is, they are paying because they see what this translation management system will become.
And if you're still unsure, Click to Join our Mailing List and find out everything you always wanted to know about TMS systems, but was too afraid to ask.
Over and out.
You can read all our posts on progress if you click here.
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, I have a proposal for You:
Click to read a little bit more about the concept, and for some serious discount possibilities! (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.
If you want your own copy of miniTPMS (in tha cloud!) then here is my proposal to You:
Click to join the list for some serious discount possibilities! (subject to some also very serious cowboy and sheriff criteria matters, like sheriffness, and cowboyship. And many other non existent words)
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? Click to find out how you can get some serious discount!
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 Grab our e-mail series with all the explanation and see 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 for peanuts if You follow one simple thing:
Click to join the list for some serious discount possibilities! (subject to some also serious cowboy and sheriff criteria matters, like sheriffness, and cowboyship. And many other non existent words)