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3 Simple Concepts of Translation Project Management: Time, Cost, and Money

Tutorials » 3 Simple Concepts of Translation Project Management: Time, Cost, and Money

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project-management training

When it comes to translation, an equally important duty a translator needs to know how to do is project management. We all know how busy a translator’s day can be, often juggling multiple translation projects at once, with seemingly shorter and shorter deadlines. It’s easy to want to overlook organization for having more time to focus on the actual work. However, project management means more than just staying organized and will actually lead to having more time in the long run.

So what is Project Management?

The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as ‘the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements’. In the translation field, this is especially important, as the size, scope and quantity of projects can easily become overwhelming.

Like every other business, the success of any given project is dependent on a balance formula of time, cost, and quality. All of these things must be accounted for and planned in advance, in order to come out “ahead” in the end.

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For a translator, time is in essence money. If you spend longer on a project than initially anticipated, you are for all intents and purposes losing money, as that is time you could be spending on another project or making money elsewhere. Therefore, careful planning of your time and proper estimation prior to accepting the project/payment terms is required. If you think a job will take longer than your client believes (due to research, formatting, word count, etc.), be sure to adjust your fee accordingly.


For individual translators, this kind of goes hand in hand with Time, as they both equate to money.   If you are a translation service company, the cost equates to the amount you will be paying a translator to complete the job accurately. Oftentimes, as a translation service company, you will be accepting the job from the client prior to assigning it to a translator. Therefore, you must be able to accurately gauge the required time and rate that the translator will request based on the same conditions as mentioned previously. Otherwise, you could end up going over budget to get the job completed, and may even lose money in the long run through expenses not just to the translator, but to your employees and all the collateral expenses it takes to run a company.


It shouldn’t have to be mentioned, but quality is important. When you pay for something, you expect to get what you pay for and the same goes for translation services. The client is paying for a professional and expertly translated document, so anything short of that would be unacceptable. That being said, nobody is perfect and if mistakes have been made in the translation, it is on you to fix them without additional charges. However, fixing mistakes again takes time, which as we’ve established, is the same as money. So it’s in everyone’s best interest to maintain quality control the first time around when translating. Always double check your work, don’t just rely on translation tools and translation memory programs to always get it right. Oftentimes, these programs don’t account for formatting and if a document isn’t formatted correctly, it’s the same as not being translated correctly since they can’t use it as it is. So always err on the side of caution and carefully check your work prior to handing it over to the client. That way, if there are any corrections that need to be made, they will be small and you won’t lose too much time making them.

Of course, there’s more to Project Management when it comes down to the nitty-gritty. However, if you stick by these three simple concepts, then you will be on the right track.

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Tutorials » 3 Simple Concepts of Translation Project Management: Time, Cost, and Money

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