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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Down-skilling project managers (Part 2 of "Will technology save your company?")

Project managers working in high-cost developed countries are a huge expense. The reaction to this is that experienced project managers have been “down-skilled.” Seen only as a cost to production, veteran project managers have been pushed aside as companies replace them with low-paid novices (sometimes even interns) who can be pressured into staying in the office all night trying to fulfill promises made by overzealous sales staff. The inevitable result is chronic poor performance and low quality. The resulting quality gaffes create further pressure to regiment the project process to make it more fool-proof.

The problem is that the business of selling language services is worlds apart from the business of selling commodities. Every customer, every area of business, every communication, and every document is different and requires individual and careful attention by staff who have the experience to know how to handle it correctly. You cannot buy a box of translation off the shelf and have that fit your specific requirement as you could if you were buying a telephone system.

Computer-based systems for localization have other motivations as well. Across and SDL are offering smaller LSPs access to their “do all” computerized management systems. In effect, the smaller company has to become a client for the larger company first, then post all their projects, clients, resources, translation assets, (read--the heart and soul of your company) onto their servers.

Understandably there is a lot of resistance to this given that trust is what you want your clients to give you, but not what you want to give your competitor--particularly when the competitor is an 800 pound gorilla that you would almost certainly lose the case (or be unable to sustain the cost of the fight) in any redress action attempted in the event of a breach of that trust.

To be continued...

Next: The lure of the cloud

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