Fighting chaos: scheduling and record-keeping in a 2-3 person office
Thread poster: KSL Berlin

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 05:03
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Feb 16, 2009

I do not work alone, but rather in a small office with another translator in the same language pair. When we merged our businesses at the end of 2004, I anticipated some issues with project tracking, which led to the development of my project folder organization system. As we have experimented in parallel with various parallel solutions for project tracking, scheduling, billing, etc., this simple folder system has often been the one thing which has enabled us to keep a real overview of what is going on when the pace picks up and gets truly crazy.

One major weakness in the technical approach to administration in our office has been the reliance on single-workstation installations of administrative software like LTC Organiser or TO3000. Each of these solutions has (or had) many positive features, but inevitably, the lack of multi-user access via a network has proven to be burdensome.

I am very curious to learn how others have addressed this issue and what good solutions have been found at what cost. Given the realities of work schedules, travel and potential illness, I think this is an important area of risk to cover.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Keeping it simple Feb 16, 2009

We have the same situation here: a 3-people team working on the different stages of the same projects all the time.

We have tried to keep things simple and use:
- A log containing all jobs in progress and completed, with colours to mark the different stages and states (also the invoiced/non invoiced status), sorted by date and stating essential information like wordcounts (divided by Trados matches), price of each item, received date, delivery date and time, person in charge of the next stage, PM ordering the job... We still use Excel for this (i.e. we have to time-share it) but plan to move to a proper database soon. From this file we can copy/paste to our invoices quite easily. Each job also has a quick calculation of the estimated completion time based on the wordcount, the language pair and a difficulty factor we enter when we receive the job, so we can easily know whether a new job can be done by the foreseen time.

- Separate job shares in our server for:
A) Work in progress, termbases (our main termbase, but also a number of customer-specific termbases), memories...
B) Completed work: jobs are moved to this separate share when completed
C) Archive, for finished years

(In these shares, work is split by customer; completed jobs are preceded by completion date to be able to find them easily.)

That's basically it! We of course have separate shares for administrative matters, glossaries, repositories for reference information, etc.

Our jobs span anything from 100 words to 50,000 words and we complete a minimum of 5-6 jobs per day. This system helps keep track of everything without losing control of deadlines and volumes involved.

I don't think we would enjoy our degree of flexibility and simplicity with an application like TO3000 and similar.


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:03
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Flexible system Feb 16, 2009

We use a system similar to Tomás'. It works reasonably well for us (four translators: two sharing the same room, but working in different language pairs, the other two working in the same language pair as me, one in our same city, another on the other face of the planet).


  • For accounting and job tracking, an Excel application we grew internally. We record all projects in it, and we use it to generate invoices, record invoices and payments, generate overdue payment notices, etc. The Excel application is accessible from the same lan for the two of us that share the same office. Our other two colleagues use an offline copy of it, which I then integrate each month with our master one.
  • For project organization, a modified form of Gianfranco's system (he described it in a post a few years ago): each project has its own folder, subdivided in several subfolders:

    1. administrative information (job instructions, POs and word-count logs)
    2. source files
    3. reference materials (glossaries)
    4. translation memory (a link to the appropriate translation memory, stored elsewhere in the system)
    5. work in progress
    6. editing
    7. delivered files


    I wrote a small program to generate automatically a new project's folder, its subfolders, log the folder creation in a text file, and create a text file for administrative information and instructions.


While the folders are in progress they remain in a "work in progress" master folder. Once they are done I archive them with the other projects from the same customer.

[Edited at 2009-02-16 21:07 GMT]


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Boyan Brezinsky  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 07:03
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
A possible workaround Feb 17, 2009

Kevin Lossner wrote:
........
One major weakness in the technical approach to administration in our office has been the reliance on single-workstation installations of administrative software like LTC Organiser or TO3000. Each of these solutions has (or had) many positive features, but inevitably, the lack of multi-user access via a network has proven to be burdensome.
......
Can't Remote Desktop, Remote Assistance, VNC or some other desktop sharing solution be used as a workaround for the inherently single-user mode of operation of these tools?
And if they are installed on a machine that is used for work, you could set up a virtual machine especially for them. Makes the backup much easier and more flexible. And if used on a production machine, the above mentioned desktop sharing won't get in the way of the person who is currently working on that computer.


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