Project management in the cloud

One of my clients, a Swiss translation agency specializing in financial texts, especially descriptions of investment funds, has been using an online project management system for several years now.  Recently another client introduced a similar system – incidentally or not, this Luxembourg-based company also specializes in the translation of investment funds.

Can we spot a new trend here?

Apart from their specialization in investment funds and other financial documents, what distinguishes these two language service providers from other clients of mine is that they usually send me very small texts at a time. A typical project volume is just a few paragraphs.

Could this be the reason they chose to develop their web based proprietary project management systems? On their websites they describe the advantages of their own platforms that allow for versioning, workflow management, automatic email notifications, you name it.

While such platforms probably benefit translation companies and their end clients, freelance translators may prefer the old fashioned way of doing things.

For starters, project related communication becomes completely impersonal. Freelancers hardly ever meet their clients in person, but at least we got used to emails with greetings and good wishes – these may be clichés, but still retain a comforting level of personal touch. With web based project management platforms this personal element is gone.  You get to “communicate” with an impersonal platform. First you click on a link in an automatically generated email, then you click on Accept, then, after completing your task, you click on Upload and Done.  No more “Hi, I hope this email finds you well” and “Have a nice weekend” in emails.

Second, it takes some additional steps to copy all the necessary files to your computer.  When you receive jobs in an email, you can copy all email attachments with a single click. In web based platforms you have to copy them one by one.

One of these clients I mentioned above actually went one step further. You, as a freelancer, not only have to accept and deliver the tasks online, but you also have to enter the translated texts into their online interface. Now, if you’re a conscientious translator, you want to use your favourite CAT tool to leverage any existing translations as well as maintain terminology consistency. In this client’s web based platform, you first have to copy and paste text from each task into a Word or Excel file, perform the actual translation with your CAT tool, then copy the translated text back into the online platform.

Cloud services may be all the rage these days, but it will take some more time before freelance translators will also enjoy the benefits of cloud nine.

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Discovering the world, step by step, word by word
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