Need your translation ASAP?

by Penny Karagiannidi

Dear client-in-a-hurry,
As a translation project manager at the agency you chose to send your super-urgent project to, I would like to let you know that you can help me help you by doing the following simple tasks:

Send a heads-up

As soon as you discover or find out about this need for a speedy translation, send a quick heads-up indicating the language pair, field of expertise and estimated volume and deadline to help me arrange resources. Feel free to send drafts, too!


Prepare your offer correctly

Please include all necessary information, to help me check availability and get the quote ready. That includes language combination (duh!), field of expertise, volume (if known), files, resources and perhaps info about the CAT-tool to be used, deliverables and a preferred delivery schedule (partial delivery dates? final deadline?). This way I will know what linguists to contact and what to tell them.

Prepare your work files and get to know them

Please try to send me editable files. If you need your website translated, ask your IT for the texts in a .doc/.docx, .xml or other editable file, otherwise I will have to take more time to download or copy-paste your texts for the quote and it won’t even be reliable! Ask the corporate department which drafted a document to provide an editable file for it instead of a PDF which may need unlocking or OCR processing. If you have absolutely no option but to send a scanned PDF document, make sure you have scanned it properly, i.e. it is not skewed or partly illegible.

If you happen to use a CAT-tool, feel free to send your latest Translation Memories or glossaries to save me some time, which is currently precious to you.

Before you forward me the files take a look at them and decide whether any attachments in them, tables and graphs or even whole chunks of text need to stay untranslated. Please share this info to prevent unnecessary (and time-consuming) communications.

Stay accessible for the next while

Surely you are busy but please, please remain available to answer to any first follow-up email or calls on my behalf. There is almost nothing more frustrating than people demanding you treat their need as a first priority and not doing so themselves.

Don’t disappear on me, either! When I ask you to confirm safe receipt of the quote, please do. I am most likely just as busy as you and don’t have time to chase you. If your project is actually as urgent as you claim, don’t let two days pass without so much as a word, and then demand that we start immediately. Bear in mind this means checking availability all over again, while the clock is supposedly ticking.


Be honest

Don’t say you need something tomorrow when you need it two days later just to put pressure. Don’t say that you don’t need top quality and then come back to complain about minor mistakes. No project manager wants to let their client down – we are there to assist, but good partnership is based on truthfulness.

Be reasonable

With anything, from availability to prices to delivery. Translators are few, and good ones are fewer and busier. The chances that they are sitting around doing nothing are low and schedules are usually pretty tight in our line of work. Do not expect them to set aside all other work to accommodate yours – whether they will do it or not is in their discretion. After all, they are your partners, not your employees.

Be prepared to pay a rush fee – you should and you might have to!

On average, good translators can translate 2,000-3,000 words a day. A day, as in 8 hours. If you expect them to work extra, you should be willing to pay them extra. It is only reasonable!

Source: The Motley Fool

Be kind and considerate

Constant reminders, even when labeled “kind” or “gentle”, are annoying at least. Telephone calls even more so. Implying that your PM is negligent or unorganised won’t bring any value into our relationship.

Your translation project manager

About the author:


Panagiota (Penny) Karagiannidi holds a University Degree and an MA from the Department of Foreign Languages, Translation and Interpreting, Ionian University. Ever since her graduation, she has been working as a linguist and translation project manager. She mainly copes with technical texts and loves her job, despite often complaining about it. She is a member of PEEMPIP’s Disciplinary Board and has served a Mentor in the Association’s mentoring program in the fields “Translation Project Management” and “Translation Agency Management”.

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