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Big projects put on hold
Thread poster: Marion Rooijmans

Marion Rooijmans
Local time: 08:19
English to Dutch
+ ...
Mar 29, 2007

Dear colleagues,

In these last few weeks, the following situation has occured a couple of times: a client announces a big project and asks me if I am available. The client gives me an expected start date and I tell him that I am available. However, af few days before or on the expected start date, I receive a message that the status of the project is unclear. The clients still expects to receive a go-ahead for the project, but the start date will probably be postponed by a couple of days/weeks. Sometimes, even the new start date gets postponed (and again, and again).

This has happened with several clients now. I tell them all that I am available, because I AM as long as none of the other announced projects start. However, chances are that in a few days time, all projects will start at the same date, and I won't be available to work on all of them.

What can I do? I do not want to tell one client that I am not available because I EXPECT another project to start soon. If I had done that, I would have had no work at all in these last few weeks.

What are your experiences? How do you deal with situations like this? Do you schedule time for these expected projects?

By the way, these are all regular clients; it's not about availability requests for obscure projects. I certainly do expect that most of these projects will start (eventually).

Thank you for your replies!

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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:19
English to German
+ ...
Do not guarantee full availability Mar 29, 2007

If several customers offer several projects with overlapping schedules I'd split my time and let them know that I am x% available. If one of the projects eventually starts but the others do not, I can still let them know that I am now happy to offer them even more time.

If not, I have still free ressources to accept other work.

So I am in, the agency has people to work with, and I can still earn money if the project is delayed. Should make everybody happy.

I would only commit 100% to running projects. In every other case if 100% availability is explicitly required, you have to have a contract that guarantees payment for time without work after the intended start of a project. But I guess this would require very special circumstances ...

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Rebekka Groß  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:19
English to German
tell your clients Mar 29, 2007

Hi Marion

This kind of thing happens to all of us at some time or another but you seem to be particularly unlucky having several projects with slipping start dates at the moment.

What I normally do in this situation is I tell the client that I would still like to work on the project but that I'll have to take on other work in the meantime and that this could result in me not being available when the project finally gets the go-ahead. Most clients will understand this. If they don't there isn't an awful lot you can do about that.

You could also try and figure out if you could take on a certain amount of words per week while working on another project at the same time.

If the project is really big, chances are you are not the only translator working on it so there may be an option for you to join the project team later when you have capacity again. So ask your client if the project is split between several translators and if they'd be happy for you to join in a week or two into the project.

Lastly, if you were the only one to work on the project ask the client if they'd be willing to split the project between 2 or even 3 people and tell them how much of the word count you could take on that way. You may even be lucky enough to suggest another translator who you know you'll work well with.



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Elena Robles Sanjuan  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:19
English to Spanish
I couldn´t agree more Mar 29, 2007

Claudia Krysztofiak wrote:

If several customers offer several projects with overlapping schedules I'd split my time and let them know that I am x% available. If one of the projects eventually starts but the others do not, I can still let them know that I am now happy to offer them even more time.

Hi Claudia,

I have been working in the available/not-available culture for so long that I forget you are entitled to being just x% available and that it might work for your client.
I guess we´re pushed to make rush decisions so often that we forget we have to do real project management to offer an answer that suits us as well and prevents overworking.

Thank you for putting it so simply.

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Henrik Pipoyan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:19
Member (2004)
English to Armenian
Hi Marion Mar 29, 2007

I think you could ask your clients to provide you more information about the projects, at least the subject and volume. This will help you take a correct decision.

The point is that if several clients behave the same way at the same time, it is quite possible that they are bidding for the same project. End clients often contact several agencies, to get the best rates. This often happens to me. I may receive inquires from three-four clients based in different parts of the world to quote on the same project.

But if this is not the case, and these are really different projects, anyway this information will help you plan your work and negotiate realistic deadlines with all your clients.


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Marion Rooijmans
Local time: 08:19
English to Dutch
+ ...
Thank you Apr 2, 2007

Thank you for your replies.

Claudia, Rebekka and Elena: yes, I have informed my clients that I will take on new projects as long as their project hasn't started yet. They know that I'm only x% available, but this percentage gets smaller with every big project that is announced. Let's just hope they don't all start at the same time.

Henrik: no, these are all different projects, with different subjects. I would love to discuss deadlines with the clients, but in most cases, the end clients wants the translation done by a certain date. If I cannot deliver before that date, that's too bad for me.

Thanks again!

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