Here are a few pointers to help you be a good Project Manager.
Being a translator can be tough – especially for a freelance translator. Getting stuck with a bad project manager can really be a downer for a translator, and this can cause drops in quality and reliability as well as lessen chances of getting to work with a good translator again in the future. Here are a few pointers – in no particular order - for being a good PM:
1) Remember your manners, as well as your place.
You are not the translator’s boss. You are his or her “manager”, and only temporarily at that. Don’t talk down to the translator, or order them around as if you own them. Remember: whereas an employee of a company usually has no recourse but to quit their job if they don’t like dealing with a particular manager for being bossy and rude, a freelance translator has the choice to never work with you again. Also, PM or not, do you really need someone to remind you not to be a jerk...?
2) Reply to inquiries and requests ASAP.
Many project managers - after contracting a translator for a particular job – basically just give up on communicating with the translator until the project deadline, ignoring questions and confirmation mails/phone calls. Not only is this just plain rude, but it can also cause a translator to feel uneasy and suspicious. When I was working as a freelance translator, I would often receive a job from a PM and then receive no word from them whatsoever after sending my confirmation mail. This would make me wonder... Am I really going to get paid? Is this even a real company? Or is it just some guy looking for someone to do his homework for him? It is especially important to answer any questions relating to the project that the translator may have to the best of your ability. Don’t forget that - as a PM – if you turn in a translation of poor quality, then that poor quality will reflect on you and your company in the eyes of the client.
3) Keep open lines of communication with not only the translator, but the client as well.
If a translator has a question regarding his or her assigned project, it is important that you be able to relay that question to the client, as it may affect the entire outcome of the project. This means that you need to try to the best of your ability (depending on the client and the project, this is not always possible) to keep open lines of communication with clients. This is not only for the sake of the translator and the translation itself, but for your company and your company’s profits. Think about it from the translator’s point of view discussed above: if you receive a job from a client and can’t seem to get ahold of them after accepting the job, how sure can you be that they’re actually going to pay you on time? Or at all? Whenever possible, try to get not only an email address but also a physical postal address and a telephone number for any clients you work with, and be sure to extend them the same courtesy and respect that you would expect from a translator. This will not only help to let you feel more at ease, but also to build a stronger, more trusting relationship with important clients.
4) Be sure to keep track of all aspects of your projects thoroughly.
Who translated this project? When is it due? Was it turned in on time? Who was the client? How much are you receiving? How much are you paying the translator? When will the payment come in? When are you scheduled to pay the translator? How was the quality of the translation? Were there any additions or changes? What was the format? What were the source and target languages? What was the name of the source file? Was it proofread? Who proofread it? How much are you paying them? These are all important aspects of any job, and should be managed and recorded thoroughly. Failing to handle this part of the job could cost you translators, clients, and most importantly: money.
Of course, there are many more aspects of the PM job that deserve attention and care, but these are some of the most important.
Happy Project Managing!