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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Is a system better than a project manager?

Back in the old days, trained and experienced localization project managers were considered an essential for any translation and localization company.

 The request email would be received either directly by the PM, or routed to the most suitable and available PM immediately upon receipt. The PM would then personally respond to the request within an hour or so with practical and useful feedback on the request, query, or hand off of project files. “Received and project is in progress.... “ “Received your RFQ and files are being evaluated now, and your quote will be sent later today... “ were the two most typical responses given. Clients smile, sales team go off to celebrate the sale, production team got busy with file analysis and production scheduling.

Well, that is how it used to happen. Now, since we finally got rid of those expensive project managers who have the nasty habit of slowing down the start of the project by asking questions to cover ambiguous deliverable requirements or pointing out how a project was likely to run off the requested delivery schedule promised by the company salesperson.

These days, anyone in the office (maybe the receptionist) handles client queries by simply logging them into a “project management automated system.” 

The new process looks like the scenario below when a client RFQ or hand off is received:

First response (automated): "Thanks again for your email. Our traffic manager has logged it in for attention. The first available qualified staff member for customer contacts will be in touch with you shortly. With our full monitoring processes for total quality control and assurance, we will have a response drafted within 24 hours, which is then posted on to our database system. It is then in the queue for checking for language usage, correct grammar and intonation, and suitable terminology that we are sure that you will be looking for with our professional attention to detail. Thank you for your patience and be assured that your request/query/project is being fully checked by our propriety flight checker application"

Within just another few short days, a “project coordinator” sends out a response that has attached automated word count spreadsheets, QA report spreadsheets on the source files, TM analysis log files, and a message that gives a bottom line dollar figure and delivery time.

All of this is thought to impress the client, even if no one at their end can actually understand any of it. 

The translation buyer simply wants to get their text translated to one or many languages, accomplish that with reasonably good quality and at a reasonable price that they can fit in their budget, and finally, within a reasonable time frame.

If they get a response from a real person who clearly knows what he is talking about and offers these goals for their project, surely everyone in the process will be satisfied (except perhaps the sellers of the “systems” who assure us that they will eliminate much of our costs and make our work faster and easier – oh yeah?)

Admerix is one company who still lives in the real world. We believe that it is essential to have trained and experienced industry veteran project managers overseeing every project from inception to final delivery. Critical errors are avoided, time is saved in every step, alternatives are applied should things look like not going to plan, and the end client is kept in the loop with reasonable and rational explanations of each step.

Automated systems cannot help me when I call up the bank with an account inquiry--I need a real person who is experienced with the banking system and how to handle my problem.

In the translation and localization business, it is even more critical for customers to deal with industry veteran people, and not a “system” no matter how smart we are told that system has been made.

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