Friday, February 3, 2012

How to Deal With Project Managers


I worked as a translator for 10 years, but from 2006 on I’ve been mostly working as a project manager at a translation company. My previous experience helped me a lot when trying to deal with translators, but I realized that most of the things I thought about project managing when I was a translator were absolutely erroneous. Here you will find some tips to help you obtain more work from project managers.

1. BE POLITE.
Try to avoid sarcastic comments if the rates are too low (“I could earn more working at McDonalds” and the like). They are offering you the possibility to earn money!
If a PM knows a translator will respond politely, new offers will come in the future.

2. ANSWER ALL EMAILS.
Even if you are not interested, or are on vacation, or the email suddenly appeared in the SPAM folder and it’s already too late, ALWAYS reply.
From my own experience, if a translator just does not answer, he is automatically off of the list.
Also, if possible, answer quickly. If you do not have enough time, a really simple reply such as “Thank you, will peruse it and be back to you in XX minutes”, it is enough.

3. DISCLOSE INFORMATION THAT MIGHT BE INTERESTING TO THEM.
Don’t communicate just by email. Give them a buzz and try to exchange information: 
I heard the videogame localization market is growing. Do you have any related assignments?”
PMs will appreciate your help and they always prefer to work with translators who really know the market.

4. SET YOUR OWN FEES.
You can accept a job for lower fees depending on the circumstances, BUT the project manager should be aware that your usual fees are XX. That will be helpful for him in order to negotiate with potential clients. 

5. QUALITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE DEADLINE.
If you have to sacrifice quality or deadline, sacrifice the deadline, and try to offer as high quality as possible. Having to apologize to a client because the translator did a horrible translation is worse than not respecting the deadline.
This does not mean that you can just ignore the deadline! But you can negotiate the deadline, while the quality cannot be negotiated.

6. IF NECESSARY, APOLOGIZE.
Don’t give too many excuses if someone scolds you for an error. Translators are also humans and can make mistakes. Thank the PM for the corrections and be sure not to make those same errors again.

7. NEVER ACCEPT RATES THAT ARE TOO CHEAP.
And peruse the text before accepting them.
It’s really annoying when the translator accepts an assignment and sends you an email 24 hours later telling you that the quality might take a dive because the rates are too low. 

8. NEVER LIE.
Don’t tell them you have experience in a certain field if you don’t. The only thing you can say in those cases is “Oh, I am interested in this field” or “I will do my best if you provide a consistent glossary”.

Conclusion: Many people tend to treat the PM as a mere intermediary between the translator and the client, but, in the end, the agent himself IS the client, and we only expect to be treated as clients. Bear this in mind and you will receive more and more assignments.