We are proud of you, Darja!

Our colleague Darja Črv, project manager and translator, wrote a wonderful and insightful article that the European Language Industry Association (Elia) featured in The Elia Handbook for Smart PMs. Elia first distributed the handbook to attendees of their annual conference Elia’s Focus on Project Management that took place on 5 and 6 December 2019 in Hamburg, Germany.

The knowledge and experience that our colleague shared on paper represent a large contribution to the development of project management in our domain, which is why we are extremely proud of her. Well done, Darja!

We are proud to present her article.

Don’t let technology take over

My role as a project manager at GORR began in May 2018. A year and a half of experience in project management is not much, but it is just enough to start reflecting on how to improve yourself, how to do things differently and more efficiently. There’s still a lot to be learned and maybe I’m not in a position to give advice to other, more experienced project managers out there, but I would like to share some thoughts regarding the importance of communication with our freelancers.

In the past few decades, we have witnessed many changes in the fast-developing translation industry. It is necessary that every process in the translation workflow is expedited in order to achieve ever-growing demanding standards. Many tools are being developed, like TMSs, MT engines, various CAT tools, and all are designed for us to work faster and to deliver the translations to our clients within the earliest possible timescale.

Following industry trends, we have implemented several new tools at GORR in the past few years, searching for faster and simpler translation workflows. I realised that I can create new projects faster than ever and delegate jobs to linguists without even sending them personalised emails. The system has it all covered by sending out automatic emails allowing linguists to accept or decline jobs. When the work is done, the completed files can simply be uploaded to the system. Don’t get me wrong, all these new tools are great and make our lives easier when we are in a hurry, but it makes me wonder – do I really like where this is going? Is the technology slowly moving towards destroying the human touch? When we started using our TMS for translation projects, our main goal was to teach all our vendors how to use it, so we would spend less time searching for appropriate linguists, writing emails etc. We were all impressed by what the system can do for us. It was only later on that I realised I’m basically giving orders to the computer in front of me, almost forgetting that there’s another human being on the other side. I noticed that there was less and less real communication between me and the team, and it didn’t feel right, so I knew I must do something about it. Now I try every day, at least I try, to be more involved. The fact is that our linguists need our attention and time despite all the new technologies. We all know that sometimes it gets quite hectic in the office, but no matter how busy your schedule is, there should always be time to give a heartfelt welcome to a new member of your team, to raise genuine concern when someone declines a job due to illness, and to appreciate every effort by writing a simple “thank you” to a linguist who is accepting or delivering their job.

As it turns out, our linguists need our help and support more than ever and in order to make the best use of new technologies, we must educate its users. In my view, the project manager plays an important role in supporting the vendors by remaining at their disposal in case of issues and questions and by providing them with tips and hints. Moreover, one should always take time to write short, precise and clear instructions that can be easily followed by a linguist. The emphasis is always on short and clear, because no translator likes to read long incoherent chunks of text (speaking from my own experience as a translator). I think that good communication with a linguist is key to success and if I had to come up with a formula for a high-quality translation, good communication would be one of its key ingredients. In my experience, most of the linguists that I have worked with expressed appreciation when I went the extra mile to provide support or resolve issues. I believe that most linguists recognise your personal efforts and, consequently, they are willing to work with you over and over again. And one day, when you are in a desperate search for a linguist to translate an urgent text, your favourite translator will surprise you by going the extra mile to help you! Of course, you will also work with people who you may find harder to work with or who are simply not on the same page as you are, but there’s always a way to make things right through communication.

And, last but not least – be honest with the people you work with. Only then will you be able to develop a long-term and solid relationship with your team members. Note, however, that every relationship is built slowly and constantly, and you will need some time to gain trust from your team and vice versa. And finally, be grateful to your indispensable translators, proofreaders and editors. At the end of the day, they are the ones who make translations presentable to our clients. Enjoy working with your team and the best of luck with your future projects!