The below post is based on an interview with Gaëtan Chrétiennot, founder and CEO of Six Continents, a progressive translation agency based in France, recorded in April 2019, where he shared his story of working with XTRF.
Listen to the recording here.
Like lots of translation agencies, we started off with several databases, various different systems, and language translation technology. Trying to find information was hard – you had to look at lots of different places. We knew we needed to centralize things.
Around 2008, our translation agency started implementing our own, very basic, project management system. But after a while, we realized that we’d never really been able to create a great translation agency management software by ourselves. For our company to grow, we needed to buy in technology. And so we started investigating. At that time, translation management systems were just beginning to emerge onto the market, and we looked into the different options. For me, it was really important that I could make the tool work the way I wanted it to. XTRF allowed us to adapt it to our needs, systems, processes, and the way I want to run my business.
At the end of the day, our job is to put a smile on our customers’ faces. To do this, our team needs to feel like they’re smiling when they work. This is made possible because they can rely on an efficient system they’re comfortable working with.
All your information in one system
As CEO, I need metrics and KPIs, I need to be able to monitor what’s going on at a glance. So centralizing data was key for us. Having one place where you can find out everything about your company is very helpful. I can quickly look at reports and keep an eye on the business. All this data is also incredibly valuable if one day I decide to buy another company, or sell my company. Being able to provide such a wealth of quantitative data actually increases the value of the business itself and reduces the risk of any transaction.
I travel a lot and it’s important that I’m able to work wherever I might be. XTRF is cloud-based and it all works just as well as if I was at the office. This gives me and my employees the flexibility to work from home when we need to.
CAT tool integration is another important feature for us. We quote and create a project in XTRF, and in the background, a project is automatically created within the CAT tool you choose, so you don’t have to do it twice. XTRF can automatically select translation memories, termbases, and use analysis reports.
We’re saving at least 30% of our time
The system is easy to use and it allows us to work really quickly. We timed creating a quote for a customer for a basic bilingual project. It took just four minutes. In that time, the system analyzed the file, looked at the rates, and prepared everything in a pdf, which was then emailed to the client.
It works well for more complex projects as well. For multilingual projects, you select your workflow for your first language pair, and then can easily duplicate this to the other language pairs. The system analyzes the files, with different TMs for each language pair, selecting them automatically. You can also have as many different workflows as you like, so you can address all the different possibilities of services you might like to sell to your customers.
It saves us at least 30% of our time at the quoting and project creation stages. But the actual time we save is probably more than that, because XTRF also streamlines other parts of our processes, like vendor selection. We’ve also found that XTRF’s workflow-driven approach really helped us establish good procedures and become better organized. Overall, this language translation technology means we need at least one or two fewer project managers than we would otherwise.
Why a small translation agency should use a TMS
Small translation companies often try to save on costs by not paying for a professional, industry-standard system. You might be using excel spreadsheets or similar, which means you’re working inefficiently and can’t spend time on the work that really matters. Or maybe you’re trying to build a system yourselves. If you’re not an expert in this area, you’re unlikely to be able to create and maintain a system that does everything you want it to. Meanwhile, the time and money and time spent on this, which is not your core business, can quickly add up.
If you have no such software you may save on costs, but you also need to think about the opportunity cost. Not having a solution like this in place slows down your growth potential. In my opinion, you should start as soon as you possibly can. Start by implementing a system that will support your growth, as it will be much harder to implement later. You can start slow, make the system work for you, and let it grow with you.
XTRF helps you re-focus your work. By automating, you save time on repetitive, administrative tasks. This allows you to spend more time nurturing your relationships with your clients and vendors, bringing in new clients, or strategizing on how to grow your business.
Translation technology to help you work as a team
XTRF covers all aspects of your business, from sales, project management, and accounting, through to reporting and strategy, and this helps your team work well together. By giving everyone access to the information they need, and by all using the same tool, you’ll feel part of a team.
On-boarding new staff and picking up colleagues’ work is so much easier since all the information is saved within the system. This is great for business continuity. It means your business is more sustainable, and you’re not losing swathes of valuable information when a staff member moves on.
Implementing a system like this allows you to be more professional. And your team will like feeling part of a transition towards a more professional business. Plus, XTRF is programmed to answer the customer in their language, so even though the PM might not speak that language, the customizable templates mean they can get an email with all the information in their native tongue.
Vendor management in a translation agency – how does a TMS help?
We’re a boutique translation agency. We don’t have thousands of vendors to manage. But we use XTRF to help narrow down the list of linguists to work on a particular project. We filter based on basic criteria like language pair, CAT Tool, and domain. Then, because we know our vendors well, we handpick a few to get sent the job request. From their point of view, it’s easy because they get a lot of information in the job request, like a sample of the text, access to the metrics, and they can accept or decline directly from the email, which means they can even do it from their phone.
You can also use XTRF for vendor performance management. Project managers and reviewers or QA specialists can provide feedback on a vendor’s work. Based on this the vendor is allocated a rating, which can be viewed as an overall rating or a specific rating within a language pair or specialization. This can be helpful when it comes to selecting a vendor for the next project.
The Vendor Portal itself is a nice simple interface where everything they need is on one page: PO, reference and source files, and rates. They can easily download the file, or access an online tool to work. Then the deliverable file is uploaded in the same place. Since it helps our vendors work efficiently, reducing time with admin, it’s a selling point. For instance, when it comes to invoicing, the invoice is pre-prepared in the system – just one click and their invoice is submitted. Super simple and nothing for us to check at our end.
Using technology in a translation agency to be more human
It sounds like a paradox. Many people worry we’re going to lose our jobs to robots. But I take a different approach. I say, let us use technology to do the work that makes us feel like robots. Saving time on repetitive tasks gives us more time to build stronger relationships with other humans. We can spend our energy with our clients and vendors instead. Therefore, translation technology empowers us. It allows us to have that human touch.
Software that supports your translation agency’s growth
So translation agency management software is not just for big companies. You’re never too small to start with technology. In fact, small companies can benefit a huge amount from using XTRF.
By becoming more efficient as a translation agency, you can spend your time in more valuable areas like client acquisition, relationship management, and strategy. Your staff and customers will be happier as they’ll be focusing on human-to-human interaction, rather than administrative tasks. And because your processes will be streamlined and automated, your business will be more scalable, so you’ll be prepared for growth. In short, implementing a translation agency management system will help you grow much faster.