At XTRF Summit #online 2020, Jovana Maravic from Dema Solutions joined XTRF’s Bogusław Reich and Dominik Radziszowski to discuss why and how they became early adopters of XTRF Chat, the new project-based messaging tool. Dominik then shared some insight into future developments on the horizon. This article is based on that presentation.
Dema’s experience of XTRF Chat
Let’s start with a little background on who we are. Dema Solutions was established relatively recently, in 2018, by professionals with over a decade of industry experience. We have offices in Italy and Serbia and a team of five project managers. Our core services are translation and localization, MTPE, and DTP.
Communication challenges in the Covid-19 era
Just like other LSPs, the pandemic presented several communication challenges for our company. Not being able to meet in person made things difficult. To fill the gap, we made efforts to improve our online visibility, for instance by adding our photos to email signatures and our website, emailing short videos, and using social media more. Meanwhile, we started looking for the best communication channels. We wanted ones that could be adjusted to different audiences and ensure perfect understanding. For communicating with our providers, we chose XTRF Chat.
Understanding XTRF Chat’s full potential
In the beginning, we didn’t really understand XTRF Chat’s full potential. It wasn’t until we started using it that we discovered just how much more efficient it made us. It has completely replaced our old ways of working, where we relied on bulk emails with BCC to various vendors. This is a far more efficient process. Now, all we need to do is just drag and drop the info we want to send out into the project chat. PMs can now communicate instantly with vendors. It’s also easier to trace information. When one PM is on vacation, it’s now easy for their colleague to check what’s happening with a project. You just type the project number into XTRF, click on it, click on the chat, and you have all the information you need.
Reaction to the new tool
Our project managers were all enthusiastic about this new communication method. As for vendors, they were generally fine and interested in it. But once we started using it, we realized we had
two main types of vendors:
- Keen beans: this group understood it immediately, liked the instant communication it offered and started switching to it completely
- Unsure users: this group kept reverting to the old ways of communication, via Skype or email
We wanted to find out why this second group seemed hesitant. After a survey and several questions, we discovered that all our vendors did like the concept of XTRF Chat, but that the second group simply took a little bit longer to change their habits. We just have to be patient!
Vendor-to-vendor communication and privacy
As with many of XTRF’s clients, in the beginning, we were worried about potential privacy issues. We weren’t sure how vendor privacy could be respected and how the project-based chat rooms, that contain all project team members (including all relevant vendors), could be GDPR compliant. But XTRF overcame this problem in a simple and ingenious way. You just need to select ‘vendor anonymization’. Once this is switched on, all participants can see the PM’s name, and the PM can see all of the vendors’ names. But vendors can’t see each other’s actual names. Instead, each vendor is assigned a random plant name.
XTRF’s plans to enhance Chat
Dominik shares his thoughts on what XTRF can do to get greater numbers of vendors using XTRF Chat, and what changes they’re currently working on.
How XTRF can encourage vendor uptake
As with many things in life, you can either use a carrot or a stick.
If you opt for the stick, then you could explain to your vendors what problems the other alternative messaging platforms present, i.e. they’re not GDPR-compliant and don’t offer vendor anonymization. Essentially, you’d be saying “no, you can’t use these other tools”.
However, I think the carrot approach is more effective. In this case, you make the product so good, that they’ll really want to use the tool. And this is something we’re working on at the moment. Currently, from a vendor’s perspective, XTRF Chat is similar to other instant-messaging tools. But we’re in the process of building a set of features that will bring real added value to vendors.
We’re going to be extending XTRF Chat, primarily through the use of notifications. This will mean that vendors can be notified about events in Jobs and Projects, such as instructions and dates changes, or deadline reminders. These notifications already exist within the main XTRF system and are currently sent out as email notifications. But we’re planning to bring this inside the dedicated mobile app. This will allow vendors to properly keep up to date with project changes, without needing to be at their desk. What’s more, the current notification system can only be configured by the vendors’ client. This new development will allow vendors to have complete control of the in-app and push notifications they receive, choosing their preferences within the app.
Another area we’re working on is the job offer or availability stage. This is where vendors are asked whether they’re available to take on a specific job. We chose to make this change based on user echo feedback on current limitations in this regard. We learned that there are two main issues. There’s the fact that vendors can only accept or decline a job – it’s currently not possible to negotiate deadlines or rates. And there’s the fact that it’s currently only possible to automate the selection of the first user that clicks ‘accept’. So this feedback has fed directly into our functional specifications for the next version of XTRF Chat.
Our planned changes will help PMs with vendor selection. For instance, the system will use a chatbot to ask vendors if they want to join the project. Vendors will be able to suggest different deadlines or prices. All of these responses will be presented to the PM who then selects the best option. We’re also considering adding different automated selection options, i.e. the vendor that provides the earliest deadline, or the one that offers the best rate, and so on.