A Day in the Life of a Translation Project Manager

The Inside Scoop

When we commission a translation project, we have three main elements in mind:

  • Language
  • Timing
  • Budget

What we don’t often realize is that each language translation project has more than meets the eye, with a team of translators who work together to provide you with the best end result possible.

In order to have a seamless experience for each translation project, whether it uses a hybrid translation or a whole team of translators, there needs to be someone who manages all the moving pieces behind the scenes. This ensures that each project is a success and exceeds customer expectations. It’s a big job.

To get an inside look at what each translation project needs, we talked with Project Manager Carolina León, who gave us an inside look on the role a project manager plays in a translation project.

Some background for you; Carolina León took the not-so-traditional route to becoming a Project Manager at Language Department, with a background in Film Production and majoring in Philosophy. 

Carolina started with Language Department as an English/Spanish translator for a large client. This developed into a full-time, demanding role that required more attention. While working in this position, Carolina was recognized for her excellence and offered the role of Project Manager.

She held key qualities that made her the ideal candidate for the role — such as her communication skills, with her natural shyness giving her the ability to be straightforward and honest with both clients and translators, and her time management skills, which she said did not always come naturally to her, and were developed over time. Her background in philosophy allowed her to approach problems with out-of-box thinking, and she draws similarities in producing a film with producing any project; time management, excellent organization, and communication with your team members are critical.

What Does a Translation Project Timeline Look Like?

Upon receiving a project, Carolina explains that it is assigned to a human processor for assessment. 

This role involves reviewing content to determine the end product. For example, is it a blog post, recipe, or glossary terms for a workout video? Language Department has developed specialized teams to head up each of these departments, to ensure the highest quality translation. Once this is determined, the project is sent for translation to one of Carolina’s skilled translators, who best fits the specifications of the job – taking into consideration not just language spoken, but past experience and even geographical location to ensure the translator is able to meet the deadline.

As the project manager, Carolina liaises with the client to provide accurate and realistic expectations on the ETA of the project.

Once the project is translated by the team, Carolina conducts a final review of the content. The advantage of having a long term project manager working closely alongside clients is that they have a full understanding of the client’s requirements, expectation, preferences and aversions. 

Anticipate, Avoid and Mitigate Problems

A large portion of Carolina’s time is dedicated to creating new solutions to help solve potential issues that may arise, constantly striving to ensure the process is as evolved as possible. This is a never ending job, and consists of tasks like creating a map and database of where all Language Department’s translators are based to assist her and her translator team in making the best choice of the translator.

To ensure consistent style and quality in a translation project that has a team of translators collaborating on it, Carolina likes to switch the role of proofreading and translation back and forth between the team. 

Know Your Translation Team

Carolina doesn’t exclusively manage projects in her spoken languages – but also in languages she cannot speak fluently.

“It’s not about knowing the languages – it is knowing how to resolve the issues themselves” – Carolina says.

A key strength is the ability to assess a good translation team and identify if a team isn’t working. She reiterates – it is crucial to have confidence in your team, and the sound knowledge that they are sending you well-translated content.

So how do you identify a good team in a language you don’t understand? Qualities and experience.

A trick Carolina has employed to check the quality and experience of a good translator is to have them peer review some translated copy. What she is looking for is detail. Even a perfect translation can have feedback, as translation is subjective. 

The Ideal Project Manager

So according to Carolina, what are key qualities for a great project manager? She has a few ideas:

  • Be flexible
  • Be creative
  • Think critically and outside of the box
  • Recognize that not everything is given, there are several possibilities to manage situations

Interested in becoming a project manager? Carolina says, “If you want it, go for it. Have a thirst for knowledge. Excellent time management is a must! But this is a skill that can be developed over time… Something to strive toward.”

You get what you pay for, and with a translation project, you are getting so much more than you think, not just excellent translations that arrive on time and on budget, but a dedicated team that truly cares about delivering you the best quality possible, lead by a project manager that follows your project from A to Z. Want to start your project today? Contact us to get started.