The essentials of good project management

“Translation requires a translator” is hardly a revolutionary statement. On the other hand, “translation requires project managers” might leave some scratching their heads. But allow us to tweak the statement and it should make more sense: good translation requires project managers. And by “good” we mean translation that is carried out efficiently, effectively, and to the satisfaction of all parties.

What do project managers do?

Project managers are the link between the client and the translator and are more than deserving of your attention! So what do project managers (PMs for short) actually do?

Let’s illustrate with an example. A pharmaceutical company wants to translate the authorisation papers for a new medicine from German into several European languages. The PM and the client establish exactly what needs to be translated and into which languages, as well as deadlines and budget.

Once the go-ahead has been given, the PM looks for suitable translators. To be considered for the job, a translator needs to be proficient in German as the source language, be a native speaker of one of the requested target languages, and be an expert in medical and pharmaceutical translations.

The link between translator and client

If the PM cannot find a suitable translator for all language combinations among our in-house translators, they will sift through our database of freelance translators, find a reliable and experienced candidate and commission him or her with the project. But the job of a PM doesn’t end there. PMs continue to provide a link between the translator and the client. For example, if a translator has a question about terminology, the PM contacts the client for clarification.

PMs also have to maintain an overview of the all-important matter of deadlines, ensuring that all translations are carried out on time, and that there is a sufficient window for revision and proofreading. If several translators have been involved in one project, the PMs have to bring the individual documents together at the end and make sure they are consistent throughout.

Large and complex translation projects, in particular, demand first-class teamwork, and from beginning to end it’s a PM’s job to guide and coordinate the collective effort.

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