The toughest parts of being a Translation Project Manager

Here at Dialogue, we take great pride in our translation and localisation work.

It’s challenging and rewarding all at the same time. From legal translations to subtitles for works of fiction, translation takes precision and finesse. It also presents some unique challenges. For our Translation Project Managers, leading translation teams in various languages and locations, is not always a smooth ride and you often need nerves of steel and the patience of a saint…

There are some tough aspects to coordinating and supporting an international translation provider. Obstacles which are recurring enough to warrant making a list. Below are the Top 10 Peeves* that our Translation PMs most often have. Those new to working with us, or curious about translation work, may want to read on and take note.  *Peeves are listed in order from least to most annoying.

Translation PMs: Top 10 Peeves

10. Connection issues

Society depends on communications systems that depend on satellites and other wireless transmission sources, fraught with issues. Bad weather can block satellites or cause downed cables. Sometimes connections issues are unavoidable, but when a call drops during a live-meeting interpretation, no one is pleased.

09. Interpreter ≠ Translator

Our Translation PMs must oversee the very varied agendas of teams doing on-site and remote interpreting, studio voice-overs and in-house translations and editing. PMs must have a clear idea of the language support needed, as this prevents us from sending the wrong talent (this hasn’t happened in the history of Dialogue, and we don’t intend on it happening anytime soon!). A general rule of thumb: An interpreter speaks, a translator writes!

08. Accent marks

Do you know how hard it is to compare accent marks across software? Or know PCs and MACs have different accent access rules? Diacritic marks and symbols require a library worth of notes, which Translation PMs must keep constantly updated and handy. N’est-ce pa?

07. Localisation ≠ Translation

There’s so much more complexity to localisation than simply translation. If only it were that simple. Added to translation, localisation requires adopting local customs, references, measurements, colour schemes, names and more to make the target text culturally relevant to the intended market.

06. So many languages

Often, it takes a very savvy polyglot to be a Translation Project Manager for Dialogue. Why? In addition to ancient languages like Latin, there are just so many living languages out there. There are over 400 languages in India, and at least 700 in Indonesia. That’s a lot. And with some languages having a multitude of different dialects (e.g. French, Canadian French), it takes a keen eye to ensure the translation is appropriate for the specific target market.

05. Deadlines, galore

All our teams work on individual deadlines, and the PM is responsible for meeting every final deadline. Come hell, high water, or a global pandemic. 

Hour glass

04. Information adaptation

With digital connectivity allowing constant transformation and innovation, a Translation PM’s knowledge base must be global, and must stay up to date. Software, hardware, training, workshops—the transfer of knowledge remains constant.

03. Workload pressures

As in any position where details matter, it takes a lot of organisation to stay ahead of technological advancements and ahead of deadlines, while juggling time-zones, and navigating any bumps in the road such as amendment of source files. Of course, no matter the pressures, our Translation Project Managers make it look easy. 

02. Cross-cultural insensitivity

Learning & interacting with different cultures enriches everyone, but one must be careful when crossing cultures to not offend. Our Cross-Cultural Training helps teams develop a heightened sensitivity to new cultures—etiquette, social norms, languages and more—long before any face-to-face meetings begin.

01. Legibility

This was ranked as number one because it happens with such frequency. Receiving illegible documents—text with certain pages or words that cannot be read—is a daily occurrence. It requires going back to the client, and the client in turn going back to the source doc, to get good clean copies for translation. If that fails, there exists only one remedy: [Copy Illegible].

Translation & Dialogue

Reilly - Translation Project Manager at Dialogue

We’re always impressed by the sheer breadth of knowledge that our Translation Project Managers possess to handle a variety of language needs on a global scale. The knowledge learned, the exposure to vibrant cultures and network-building within industries is priceless.

More than any pet peeve or list, the one constant our Translation PMs never fail to tell us is how much they love working with so many diverse groups of talented people. While the work itself poses challenges, our translation teams, and the clients we support make it all worthwhile.

Do you want to get to know our Project Managers a bit more?

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