December 2011 - Just an Update.
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I am still using the program, currently version 9.0 , Build 9017, which has been even more improved in the meantime. I now have data going back all the way to 2003, which is really great to compare.
TO3000 has proven to be an extremely valuable asset to my translation business.
My favorite part is that it takes me only about 30 minutes to write all invoices to all clients once a month and that I can easily check if a payment is overdue.
I spent a little bit more time to adjust the templates to my needs, which seems a bit difficult at first, but is really worth it. The help files have all the information you need for that, including an extensive list of all possible variables.
If you work with one or two clients who give you large jobs that take you months to finish, you may not need a project management and organization tool such as Translation Office 3000. It is, however, very useful, if you have a number of smaller jobs by several agencies and/or clients all over the world.
I started to use the program in 2004. Not that I had an abundance of jobs by then which needed to be organized, but there was a reasonable offer on one of the translators portals and I wanted to try it out. I liked the idea that the whole process involved with a translation job is covered, from getting clients to entering the jobs and pertinent data into a database to writing the invoice. The many useful steps in between such as an included CatCount program for translation memory users, being able to enter work information and client instructions, and setting several standard rates for each client really make the administrative part of being a freelance translator a lot easier.
The program is set up in a self-explanatory way. After contacting a new client, I enter all necessary data for the agency or the individual, save the quote or test translation which I may have sent off, and mark the client as "Prospective". When the client comes back with a job, I change his status to Current clientele, set up the rates, enter the job with the client's currency and his project number (which is useful for the invoicing process), enter any instructions, the agreed delivery dates, save the files - and start working. All this takes only a couple of minutes.
During the course of the translation, all jobs can be sorted in a meaningful way, for example, showing the ones with the most current deadline on top, in case you have more than one job lined up at the same time. You can also send e-mails right from the program, and all contact information such as phone numbers and the names for the individual project managers is right at hand, eliminating any extra sorting in your mail program.
The calculation process, which would usually take up quite some time, is as easy as one-two-three, with two included programs offering the most important functions: AnyCount, which calculates words, lines, pages or characters for Word, PowerPoint, HTML, and other conventional files, and the program CatCount to calculate the files that were edited with a CATtool such as Trados Workbench, DejaVu, SLDX, and others. I compared the results of AnyCount to another calculation program, PractiCount and came up with only slight differences, which don't really affect invoicing. These programs certainly beat the Word Count in Word, for example, as they also calculate words in boxes and graphics, which you would otherwise have to calculate by hand. Once you set up the rates for the words or lines for a particular client, you can reuse or adjust them any time for the next step.
Finally, the invoicing process. This important feature for us translators uses all the previously entered information about the client, their rates, and the job(s) to create a tax-ready invoice with just a couple of mouse clicks. The included template can be modified according to your business needs, even with your own logo, and you can also create several invoice templates for each client. You can enter expenses, markups or discounts and select from various payment possibilities.
The accounts function shows you, for example, information such as unpaid invoices for individual or all clients and how long they are overdue, so you can contact the client in time, if necessary. You also have a variety of filter and sorting tools to get information for certain time periods and clients.
The help file is functional and includes all important steps and information. The feedback and suggestion option, which I hardly use for other programs, has for this software manufacturer lead to my and other translators’ suggestions being implemented into future versions, thus improving the program even more and customizing it to our needs. Their help desk staff is efficient and friendly, and solves any problems you may have in a jiffy.
The included backup function is an automated tool to store all your important client and job data in a backup file, and can be used to restore your data, if needed. However, you still need to save the job files and documents themselves through other means. I use the Translation Office 3000 backup function at least every month and save my job files to an external device every two weeks. As we all know, in our business, a computer crash can be devastating, and saving our work regularly is essential.
One function of the program which I am not using at the moment is a series of prospective client databases which could be obtained by the manufacturer, as I am not actively looking for many new clients at the moment. It seems like a good tool, though, and I may try it in the future.
All in all, I can't see an easier way to get organized as a freelance translator. During the last year I organized exactly 216 jobs with this program (number courtesy of the filter function of Translation Office 3000) and I can highly recommend this user-friendly tool to my fellow colleagues.