How do you cope with extra-large projects?
Thread poster: Daniela Zambrini

Daniela Zambrini  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:54
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Mar 21, 2006

I am facing a new challenge: a good customer of mine has offered me an ENORMOUS job (well, at least it is so for my standards).
I have been doing some calculations, and it would take me approximately 3 and a half months to finish the project.
I have been asked to quote according to the volume, but I'm not sure it's a good idea.
Let’s say I reduce the rate by 10% (there are quite a few repetitions but we have never discussed CAT tools and word count has never been an issue): I would be earning less per page on a rather large scale and I would also have to refuse other projects from my usual or future customers. This means that in the long run, reducing my rate would not turn out to be profitable.
On the other hand, I would have a guaranteed income for the near future (I have been thinking of asking for a fixed amount for the first three months -25% of the whole sum, per month - and the final 25% to be settled after the last delivery).
My other concern is: how am I going to cope with turning down other offers in the meantime?
I am torn between the devil and the deep blue sea: I have never accepted such a huge commitment and I don’t want to lose my health over it. However, it is a unique opportunity.
Any suggestions?
Have I overlooked anything?
I would appreciate your comments.

Worried in Rome (and getting ready for the powwow), Daniela


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Serkan Doğan  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 07:54
Turkish to English
+ ...
Poll Mar 21, 2006

There was a quick poll concerning this matter..

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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:54
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Why worry? Mar 21, 2006

Hi Daniela,

First of all: Congratulations!!

Daniela Zambrini wrote:
I have been asked to quote according to the volume, but I'm not sure it's a good idea.
Let’s say I reduce the rate by 10% (there are quite a few repetitions but we have never discussed CAT tools and word count has never been an issue): I would be earning less per page on a rather large scale and I would also have to refuse other projects from my usual or future customers. This means that in the long run, reducing my rate would not turn out to be profitable.


Why do you need to reduce your rate? Did the client tell you that your rate is too high?

On the other hand, I would have a guaranteed income for the near future (I have been thinking of asking for a fixed amount for the first three months -25% of the whole sum, per month - and the final 25% to be settled after the last delivery).


Sounds good. Make sure the payment terms are short (so you don't wait 60 days till your first invoice will be paid).

My other concern is: how am I going to cope with turning down other offers in the meantime?


If I were in your situation, I would try to calculate my daily output for this project low enough to still have time to take on other assignments. You don't want to loose all your other clients because of this project, do you?

Good luck and best wishes to Rome,
Stefanie

[0XG|Bearbeitet um 2006-03-21 21:00|]


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Ana Cuesta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:54
Member
English to Spanish
You could try to negotiate an ample deadline in exchange for some discount Mar 21, 2006

Since you seem to infer that the client would want a discount for volume anyway, you could try and gain something in the exchange. Explain that the only way you can benefit from such volume is by having an ample deadline so you can still accommodate some jobs for your other regulars. Otherwise you would risk loosing them and so would in fact have to raise your rate to cover the risk instead of offering a discount.


Daniela Zambrini wrote:

I am torn between the devil and the deep blue sea: I have never accepted such a huge commitment and I don’t want to lose my health over it. However, it is a unique opportunity.
Any suggestions?
Have I overlooked anything?
I would appreciate your comments.

Daniela


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Alfredo Tutino  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:54
English to Italian
+ ...
you might try to negotiate a different deadline Mar 21, 2006

Whenever I have been engaged in a book length project, I've always negotiated a deadline that allowed me to give no more than, say, 70% of my working hours to that project - just because I didn't want to lose contact with other projects and opportunities.

I do not know if this is feasible for you at this point, of course...

Particularly for literary translation, this used to have a positive effect on quality, too.


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Aleksandr Okunev
Local time: 07:54
English to Russian
Good Mar 21, 2006

Daniela Zambrini wrote: I have been asked to quote according to the volume, but I'm not sure it's a good idea.
Let’s say I reduce the rate by 10%

I would offer a symbolic discount and na explanation of why a larger one is not attractive to you.

My other concern is: how am I going to cope with turning down other offers in the meantime?

Like everyone does - say you're busy.

Any suggestions?

Go for it.

Good luck
Aleksandr


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Daniela Zambrini  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:54
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I have been asked to quote "according to volume" Mar 21, 2006

Stefanie Sendelbach wrote:


Why do you need to reduce your rate? Did the client tell you that your rate is too high?



The agency has asked me for a "good" rate (although my standard rate is on average for the Italian market), taking into account the volume and the fact that the end customer is a Public Administration authority with the usual budget restrictions...same old story, it's an unofficial call for tenders, really....I'm quite sure the end customer will be going for the best rate. That's the way things go, unfortunately.

Negotiating an extended deadline would be a good solution, but as it stands, deadlines seem to be as important as rates.

Thanks for your comments, in the meantime. I'm going to think it over.

Ciao, DZ


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:54
Have you thought about sharing the work with other colleagues? Mar 21, 2006

Then the amount would not be so overwhelming, and you could have time to take care of other clients. Ofc ourse, the income would have to be shared too!

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:54
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Personally Mar 21, 2006

I have a precalculated per-hour output and usually estimate deadlines on the basis of a 6-hour day or less. That leaves me enough margin to deal with other clients, just as long as they don't come up with projects of the same size. (In that case I know I'm opening myself to overtime, but that's my - not the clients' - business. I mean, I have an overtime surcharge, but I can't apply it).

This strategy also means I can give my clients some "pleasant surprises" when it comes to productivity and deadlines. It also means I don't generally give volume discounts.

A volume discount would thus mean some adjustment in the hours of productivity. If deadline is no problem for the client but money is, lower the dedicated hours.

Conversely, if deadline is a problem, you could consider Rosa María's suggestion at a rate that you and others would find attractive so you won't be short of hands.


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Zhijun JIANG  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:54
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Do it in your own way. Mar 22, 2006

I had experience in handling extra-large projects, e.g. 70,000 English words in week or 500,000 English words in forty days. Some of them were completed well, but some could end up in a failure, which means no quality control and ruining your business relationship.

I paid a lot for this kind of extra-large project. We are a agency composed of a handful of in-house translators. When we have a team for such big projects, the proofreading turns into a nightmare for the final proofreader, which can be proofreading 30,000 words per day and seven days a week. You can foresee what will happen.

After a few sucesses and an array of failures, we believe the only way out for extra-large projects is to do it in such a way that you can 100% guarantee the quality and delivery time.
Otherwise, let it go by. After all, it's better than losing a client, which will never use you in case of a failure.


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Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:54
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Big jobbies Mar 22, 2006

Which in Scottish means………, but that’s another story.


Hi Dani,
On big jobs I charge the same rate as usual and use a Cat to offer discounts on repetitions and things like that. Why should you drop your rates? Is your time spent working during the next three months worth less than usual? “Good rate” good for who? Maybe good for the agency + their client, but for you? Shouldn’t that read “cheap” rate?

Your point about turning down other work/clients is a VERY important one. In fact I won’t accept big jobs that have tight long-term deadlines because my other clients will have to go elsewhere for their translations for the next few months and while it takes a while to make a new client it often takes less than a few months to lose one.

A big job should have a deadline that’s far enough in the future for the workload to let you accept also short jobs from other clients. Otherwise the client flashing the big one around is asking you to drop all your other clients and work exclusively for them for 3 months, then what?

If it’s 3 month’s work at your normal turnover, not counting weekends obviously, I would say a reasonable deadline would be 4+ months, also with staggered (as they’re ready) consignment, as files are finished, but watch terminology if you do this. I usually hold back a bit to see if I change anything in the next few docs because that way you don’t have to phone the client saying, “Um have you checked, consigned, printed, distributed those last docs yet, because I’d like to make a few changes.” It goes without saying really that working ahead of schedule is even more important than usual on jobs like this.

About payment, I only accept big ones from people I’ve known and worked with for a while, so there’s mutual trust and no need to change payment practices.

Re: deadlines seem to be as important as rates.
Dani the impression I get is this: “I want this enormous job done as cheap and quick as possible and it doesn’t matter to me if the person doing it earns less than they normally would in the next months or loses regular clients as long as I get my reasonably-good-fast-n-cheap translation done. If that’s the case I just wouldn’t be interested, but you decide.

About working for local authorities, I do quite a bit for several and the story is often the same. But only apparently I’d say after negotiating a hefty increase on all jobs, and still winning a 5-year contract, so obviously cheap speed is not everyone’s idea of the best deal in town.
Jo





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Jo Macdonald
Italian English Freelance Translation
Via Arno 14/G
47042 Cesenatico (FC) Italy
Phone +39 (0)547 675373
Web: www.italian-english-freelance-translation.com
E-mail: info@italian-english-freelance-translation.com
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Skype: mrjomac


[Edited at 2006-03-22 09:48]


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Daniela Zambrini  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 06:54
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I've thought it over... Mar 23, 2006

First I thought I would stick to my normale rate, negotiate an ample deadline and payment and go for it.

Then I found the answer in another recent post written by Jo :

http://www.proz.com/post/319716#319716

Jo Macdonald wrote:

Lower rate + more work + more time = same money
or
Higher rate + less work + less time = same money
or
Higher rate + same work + same time = more money


More money can be cool, but time = life



I want to have time to enjoy my life. Knowing in advance that I would be putting many things on hold for 3 to 4 months (not only other jobs, but friends, holidays, etc.) would make me very unhappy indeed.

I'm not going to risk it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. DZ


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gad
United States
Local time: 00:54
Member
French to English
Yes, that is what I would suggest Mar 26, 2006

Rosa Maria Duenas Rios wrote:

Then the amount would not be so overwhelming, and you could have time to take care of other clients. Ofc ourse, the income would have to be shared too!


I recently had an agency (that I work with regularly) offer me a very large job, and I gave them a word count and suggested that based on the time frame it would take for one translator, that the job would be best split up between several translators. Most agencies actually do that automatically.


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