Deadline, workflow, client feedback, profit margin, etc.–these are details that may matter to project managers (PMs). But what are the details that matter to freelance translators? When a freelancer gets a job order, there are details that matter more to them than PMs may think. I’ve seen many PMs in full control of the process and workflow, but somewhat negligent of the care and consideration towards communication with freelancers; for example, by assigning jobs with an automated message that just says “a job request is waiting confirmation.”
Jobs should be assigned in the translator’s time zone. Some PMs assign all jobs in their own local time. The problem with this is that some jobs may be assigned at midnight translator time, even though it’s daytime PM time. Also, expecting a job to be delivered at 3 a.m. translator’s time is also rude and inconsiderate. By working in the translator’s time zone, PMs can make sure they are not assigning jobs late at night or expecting delivery before dawn.
Don’t expect that freelancer’s rates will remain the same for many years. I’ve had agencies I registered 5 years ago request a job to me for the same rate as back then. But, obviously, my rates have changed in the past 5 years and, in fact, I have changed them almost every year. Also, when requesting work by the hour, PMs should always have in mind that it takes time to prepare for a job, to review the reference files, to work out any glitches in the CAT tool, to perform QA processes, etc. It isn’t just the time spent actually translating.
What does the task entail? An order that just asks for translation, editing or proofreading isn’t enough. Knowing the audience or purpose of the task is critical to tailoring the language to the reader. Proofreading and editing is done more efficiently if the points that need to be checked are clearly communicated. Most importantly, PMs should know that poor translations don’t miraculously turn into a good translation by asking a proofreader. When a translation is poorly done, it may be necessary for the proofreader to send it back for re-translation.
In the end, what matters most is the communication and follow-up with translators. They are not just one process in a complicated workflow, but rather members working in the same team. Technology automates so many processes and workflows, but the care and consideration that goes into human communication cannot and should not be automated.