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Too many jobs have rush deadlines
Thread poster: DR. RICHARD BAVRY
DR. RICHARD BAVRY
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 7, 2001

Why is it that every bid that pops up on the ProZ bid board has impossibly demanding deadlines? I have yet to see a job offer that has a \"reasonable\" deadline, considering the nature of the source text and the word count.



Hey! Who needs frenetic project managers? If they are all that overwhelmed with their poorly balanced schedules, why should I walk into that anxiety trip?


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Angela Arnone  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:55
Member (2004)
Italian to English
+ ...
Excellent point! Nov 7, 2001

I was wondering if I was the only person who had noticed this. In effect I have now stopped bidding as the job offers have outrageously tight deadlines and I\'m afraid that my assessment of this situation is that these PMs (or whoever they are) turn to proz as a last resort, when their usual translators can\'t or won\'t help them out.

How can we intervene here - surely people on proz should not just be called in when a customer is desperate?

Angela



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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:55
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Hi Richard Nov 7, 2001

impossible deadline... well, that would be ok (almost) if a direct client (not well informed on the translation business) asked you to perform a 50,000 words job for yesterday, but amazingly these kinds of requests come also from good and reputable agencies. Basically, they always say yes to the client for fear of either losing the client or the job itself. It\'s the same old story... there always be a translator prepared to work all night for a few bucks. This in turn leads to the assumption that every translator is prepared to do that. If you don\'t, someone else will. Same story with the rates.... I\'ve been thinking about this (gosh!). I reckon the only solution is to create a body for translators which in turn should establish a minimum fee/rate. A translator would not be allowed to charge less than the minimum rate.

Giovanni


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 03:55
German to English
+ ...
Last resort? Nov 7, 2001

I guess Angela is right: most of the outsourcers are pressed for time and need someone fast.



The most outrageous deadlines I have ever seen are usually those by Transperfect - they must think we are all miracle workers or something



But let\'s not forget that it is not the agencies\' fault, but their clients\'. Too many companies (and individual clients) wait until the last moment before they hand their documents over to a translator or agency - and then, of course, they expect it back within a flash.



What can be done? We all have to \"train\" our clients: that\'s what I have been doing - and successfully so. We have to explain to them that translations don\'t just fall out of the sky.



I understand that there can be \"emergencies\" sometimes, but if an outsourcer (like the one mentioned before) regularly and repeatedly goes overboard on their expectations, then, perhaps, we should all close ranks and not do their bidding anymore. Once they have discovered that they are no longer getting any bids on their outrageous jobs, they may just re-think their strategy and become \"normal\" again.



Back to basics

Did you know that, traditionally, the standard volume per day and per translator is, in fact, 1,000 words and that the express volume is 2,000 words? Too many seem to have forgotten that. These used to be standard measures in our profession, and it\'s high time we went back to basics.



The only ones that still seem to adhere to that principle are British translators and agencies. When you look at the websites of UK agencies, you will find a considerable number of them who still work on that basis.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-11-07 07:23 ]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:55
Member (2004)
English to Italian
I agree with Werner Nov 7, 2001

We should educate the clients, but also the agencies... they should turn down jobs if the deadline is impossible, or explain why 6,000 words by 2 o\'clock is a no no.

As far as the number of words feasible in one day, I tend to agree with you as well. Obviously, it depends on the text, but I think 1,000 words should be the standard. These days I see 3,000 or even 5,000 words quoted as the maximum output. I just finished an article on snowboarding - 1,300 words. That should be enough for today. Unfortunately, with this kind of turnaround and rates we are not going to be rich, are we?



Giovanni


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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 03:55
German to English
+ ...
It's all we can do, Giovanni Nov 7, 2001

Yes, you are right, but it depends on your rates. If your rates are reasonable (from your point of view, not the client\'s), you will still be able to make a decent living even if you translate only 1,000 words per day.



Just an add-on to my previous posting:



Agencies need to learn the 1,000/2,000-word rule, as I would like to call it. It makes no sense to dump 5,000 words or more on one or two translators (as Transperfect and others regularly do) for overnight service. I mean, there are so many qualified translators out there (ProZ has over 24,000 now, and there are thousands and thousands more). With CAT software and good (!!!) project management, it would be a cinch to split a project like that among as many as 10 translators for overnight service; this way, each one would have a decent workload, and with proper project management and the right software, they could still ensure perfect consistency of style and terminology.



But you know what the real problem is? A large number of project managers are too lazy (or inept?) to supervise larger teams of translators, and a frightening number of agencies have - let\'s call a spade a spade - really lousy project managers. In addition, they simply want to download all their responsibilities (proofreading, editing, etc.) on to their translators. In a way, I understand them: managing a team of 10 translators and organizing all the editors and proofreaders for a job like that is a major headache. So, if you dump everything in one translator\'s lap, the project manager\'s job will be all that \"easier\". However, the quality of the final translation will invariably reflect these work ethics.


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Derek Smith  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:55
Italian to English
+ ...
Defending tight deadlines Nov 7, 2001

...so long as they don\'t get out of hand. The way I read it is that as deadlines shorten, customers\' entitlement to quality diminishes and my charging clout increases. They want 10,000 words in 24 hours? Fine, but I choose the words (from among my personal favourites, i.e. I don\'t include 2,2-bis[4-hydroxyphenyl]propane bis[2,3-epoxypropyl]ether) and I set the price!

Unscrupulously

Roofman


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xxxPaul Roige
Spain
Local time: 09:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Free?-lancing Nov 7, 2001

Hola. One chap who fishes here often wanted me to translate 8,000 words over one week-end (he rang Sat a.m. and wanted it back by Sun p.m.), four months after he posted the job and the project started, just because he had miscalculated the number of translators needed to begin with, I guess. What can one do, even when one really wants or needs to work? Even in cases like this they set the price, take it or leave it, forget weekend or rush fees, they\'re doing you a favour buddy...To agree to something we cannot do can only lead to frustration, depression and, eventually, translators\' asylum. Too tight a deadline? Say no. Next until they find some Super T, their problem. I myself wouldn\'t want to end up hating a profession I love just because \"someone else will do it\". We\'ve got the choice, let\'s suit ourselves at least a little bit, it\'s our lifes that are at stake. As a freelance, I choose to stress on FREE. But eventually, we all get what we deserve.

Luck


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DR. RICHARD BAVRY
Spanish to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Wonderfully enlightening points re job bids and impossible expectations Nov 7, 2001

I am so glad I opened this can of worms! For a while I thought that I was somewhat \"loony\" in the respect that it seemed to me that the majority of offerings on the bid board were unconscionable...especially those persistent Transperfect URGENT ones.



My hat is off to all of you...but I must say that you, Derek, with your typical brand of humo(o)r have made me laugh my legenday arse off!



Cheers!



Rich


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:55
English to German
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Beware of being left behind Nov 7, 2001

Hi all!

I very much share most of your concerns regarding the loss of reality on some of the jobs around. Having said that, I sense a certain danger in attempting to \"go back to basics\" (note the language here) and stick to a static \"x-words-per-day\" regime. In doing so, you tend to overlook the efficiency gains thanks to CAT tools, other databases and good self-organisation. Subjet to resources being available, I have no problem turning around up to 3,500 words per day, without sacrificing quality.

what I have found is that you can actually turn the table and use [end-]clients\' lack of organisational skills to your advantage: if you help them to organise themselves, that\'s one more reason to charge an appropriate rate. Better even: unlikely other \"assets\" such as experience, skills and quality, this one is directly visible to your client. (I do realise, of course, that I\'m working in a niche market...)





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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 03:55
German to English
+ ...
"Organizing" your clients Nov 7, 2001

Yes, Ralf, that\'s what I mean when I say \"train your clients\" - it\'s all part of that idea.



However, I strongly disagree with your incessant references to \"falling behind\". Those that uphold quality will never fall behind, but those that are willing to sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity will! I am sorry if you find my call for \"back to basics\" offensive, but I don\'t mean it in political terms (although the political arena could also do with a healthy portion of that!).



Yes, CAT helps \"a bit\", but it actually creates more trouble and headaches than actual benefits. None of the CAT packages is perfect - using CAT entails a whole lot more attention to detail in terms of editing, proofreading, checking, double-checking, triple-checking, ... (and let\'s not forget that Trados 5 has a tendency to freeze up in the middle of certain Word documents - e.g., if graphics and tables and other fancy features have been integrated into the Word document; so unless you have a simple, all-text Word file, forget using Trados!).



Of course, everyone\'s style is different, but in my own experience, I find that CAT actually slows me down (because my \"human translation memory\" still beats CAT!). You mention that you can produce a quality output of 3,500 words a day - through CAT, that is. I can master 3,500 words a day too without sacrificing quality and without using CAT, if absolutely necessary (but why should I work towards a heart attack if it can be done differently and BETTER??)



By the time you \"CAT guys\" have finally managed to set up a Trados (or Déjà Vu, etc.) project (setting the parameters, importing, exporting, dealing with the exorbitant number of glitches and problems, etc., I have already translated at least 500-700 words.



On a final note regarding CAT: I have seen so many examples now of translations done by CAT (by experienced translators) that contain an excessive number of unnecessary mistakes. Why? Because these people started to believe and trust way too much in CAT, and so they overlook a number of mistakes incorporated into the final text thanks to CAT (an example from German-English: \"A und B\" is rendered as \"C und D\", with \"und\" left in German!!!).



It is absolutely OK to use CAT, but you also have to be aware of the fact that it cannot turn you into a translator by magic. And even if it helps you increase your output, your net working time spent on the whole project will still exceed that of a translator who does not use CAT (in other words, increased outputs by means of CAT are a dangerous \"mirage\").



I apologize for my rantings on CAT software, but it fits right into this discussion on unrealistic expectations, volumes, etc. (and CAT is my personal number-one bête noir - and guess what? Still, I am not \"falling behind\" at all! ). I may be a certified translator, but the whole issue of CAT pushes me closer to being certifiable and CATty, so I\'ll stop right here.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-11-07 16:30 ]


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Telesforo Fernandez
Local time: 14:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
I have similar offer Nov 7, 2001

I have a similar offer to translate a highly technical and legal document from xxxx into English. It has around 800 pages to be completed witin a week. My client who is a direct party is not aware that it is not possible to do it within one week.He has asked me to get a pool of trasnlators to do it. But where do you get so many good translators( at very low rate 6 cents/ word- I mean) to do the job accurately? It is a very sophisticated job - it has legal and technical implications.

Many people think that translation is not avery sophisticated task. You cannot educate the clients. If you do not do it somebody will do a shabby job of it and complete it.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-11-07 19:54 ]


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pzulaica
Local time: 00:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
It's outrageous! Nov 7, 2001

The impossible deadlines are really bad indeed but one has to eat right?, The low fees per word as well, but what can you do?



But tonight I saw the limit. I read the following bid: http://www.proz.com/job/?id=15546, and that\'s just the ultimate thing. 115,000 words of a technical manual that has to be translated in two weeks, but that\'s not all, the payment term is \"60 days after acceptance of the final documents\".



What are we? What is a translator? Some sort of a magician that has to deliver any translation no matter how huge it is exactly when the customer wants it: now. And seems that a translator should be someone extremely rich or at least someone that doesn\'t care about mundane things like eating.



Why is it that the customer or the agency can\'t lose a minute of their precious time but the translator can wait two months for the customer to SEND his payment and pray for mail to be quick?



Like if I could tell the butcher I\'d send the money for the meat I buy two months after the food is delivered, checked and eaten.



It was just too much for tonight... I understand the 58 people that answered that posting, we\'re all trying to make a living out of this, aren\'t we?



Good luck to all...



Paula


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Hans-Henning Judek  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:55
German to English
+ ...
Most deadlines are artifical.. Nov 7, 2001

if there are no special circumstances, like tradeshows, studio time, etc.



I learned that the hard way 18 years ago. An agency called and asked me, if I could translate 400 pages in 3 days - imagine 80,000 words in 3 days! Just to ask the question is ridiculous. Also consider that at that time still typewriters were the standard form of input. No computers, no Trados, no cut and paste. So it was out of the question. The agency was desperate The engineer of the customer was supposed to fly to Germany on the fourth day and take this installation manual with him. So we agreed to take 200. My wife and I worked three days and three nights without sleep and I delivered the job like a zombie.



Three weeks later I had a translation job to do in the factory of the client. This was just to be available in case that something was missing. Guess what I saw sitting on the desk? Right, my translation. Still sitting there after 3 weeks (!). At that day I swore that I would never accept a deadline on face value again. Some guy in the company had just decided, \"we want it an that day\", and the agency bent backward.



I have then \"educated\" my direct clients and agencies to give me only realistic deadlines. On the other hand, if there are any circumstances that delay the job and make an overshooting of the deadline probable, I immediately contact my clients and tell them frankly. They negotiate with the customer ant it ALWAYS worked out. If it cannot be extended by any means, they tell me and I can believe them, because I know it is true.



A good agency negotiates realistic deadlines, because the customer usually has no idea of time frames for translation. What the customer considers desirable, is frequently not realistic. So if an agency constantly has to tight deadlines it means that they make \"fast turnaround\" a sales pitch on the back of the translators. This should not be acceptable.















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Mary Lalevee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:55
French to English
Unrealistic deadlines Nov 8, 2001

People who are new to the translation world often genuinely don\'t understand that translation takes longer than it took to write the actual document. They think you can just sit down and type it out. I agree that clients need educating, they can learn if you refuse to do the work in a shorter time than the time you really need.

Let\'s keep at it!

Mary


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