Wednesday, September 14, 2011

From Managing to Monitoring - From Drops to Drips

After the recent IMTT Conference in Córdoba (Argentina), my friend Cecilia Piaggio was kind enough to offer me a ride to Rosario the next day. During the five-hour drive, we had a chance to talk about some changes that have happened in the translation industry in the past several years and to think about the changing roles of translators, project managers, LSP owners in a world where content is ubiquitous and streaming constantly.

She told me that one of the things that she noticed is that more and more clients were moving from the traditional project model — where files are dropped in an FTP server, work is done, and files are delivered again by FTP or e-mail — to a continuous flow of strings and small files that need to be picked up, processed and published within a short period of time. Or, as she aptly put it, we are moving from drops to drips.

If we combine this with the constant advance of automation of processes and repetitive activities with the use of tools like Plunet, XTRF, and Multicorpora, it becomes clear that the role of the project manager is also shifting. In fact, if you look at the performance of highly efficient companies like LanguageWire in Denmark, you will notice that project managers have become a lot more productive in the last few years. And the explanation for this is that instead of managing projects or drops, that traditionally require manual preparation and a lot of file shuffling, project managers can now focus on monitoring the process.

In other words, we are moving from active involvement in tasks to managing by exception. The project manager only interferes in a process when the systems show that something is not going according to plan. This allows a PM to work on many more projects, just monitoring his dashboard for red flags.

More projects and more automation lead to fewer human errors and higher yields. Good times!


  1. Anonymous1:30 PM

    Renato, I am happy to see that project managers in the localization industry are more focusing on true project management tasks: coaching your team, monitoring progress, risk management, managing stakeholder expectations, etc. instead of transferring files between the different parties!
    In continuous translationland all activate needs to happen online and integration with the content containers (often CMS) is essential to reduce errors and meet today's deadlines.

  2. Another informational, enjoyable post to read.......thanks for putting it together.