Who should decide which CAT you use?
Thread poster: Christine Andersen

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 20:54
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Nov 5, 2012

I have just received a mail from an agency that I have worked for on a few occasions.

They informed translators that 'as we all know', they have a favourite CAT tool, and provided free links to training and webinars and about the tool.

Quite honestly, I had never even heard of it, but Google turned up a thread here on ProZ.com about it a year or two ago. The same agency had asked for points of view, and opinions were very mixed. It is an online system, and if translators use it with a license from the agency, they cannot use their own TMs and glossaries, and they cannot download TMs of the work they have done when they have finished the project.

This is where I say stop.

First agencies introduce a system of reduced rates for repetitions. OK, I set my rates accordingly. Partly because there are not many repetitions in a lot of the work I do, and partly because when there are, I really do save time when I can use a CAT.

I reap a lot of other benefits from my CAT, because I have built up my own TMs and glossaries, which are a store of my experience. I don't have to begin from scratch with every job I do.

If I can't use my own resources, then I have to take time to check in dictionaries and databases the things that otherwise just appear from my own concordance and glossaries.

I will not get paid a higher rate, and because the client is providing the TM, I cannot add to my resources as quickly and easily as usual. That means I end up spending more time on this CAT and benefiting less from it than from my own.

Quite apart from that, I have to learn to use this thing, and concentrate on the mechanics of operating the system instead of translating.

I use my CAT to improve the quality of my work and my typing speed. I recently looked at another very popular CAT because a client recommended it, and attended a training session. (Paying for it, travelling and taking a day off work.) However, I decided not to invest in it - simply because I do not want to run two systems and keep both maintained and up to date. It just means twice the expense for updates and maintenance, and twice as much unproductive time, and the ROI does not justify it.

This was my reply to the client who mailed me today about the 'unknown' CAT:
__________________________________

Dear [Client]

MY favourite CAT tool is XXX XXX, and I have invested a lot of time and effort learning to use it efficiently.
I have also built up some good general TMs and glossaries, which save me a lot of time and help me to keep my rates competitive.

If you want me to spend time learning to use a new CAT and convert my resources - or if I can't use them and am therefore less efficient than usual, who pays and who benefits?

I hope [your favourite CAT] is compatible with other CATs.

Best wishes
Christine Andersen.
___________________________________

OK, rant over - May your favourite CAT become your clients' favourite too!



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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 20:54
Danish to English
+ ...
You are the boss of you Nov 5, 2012

... so only you have any right whatsoever to decide which CAT you use.

However, your client is the boss of him/her, so he/she has the right to decide which CAT is used on the jobs he/she offers. I think it is quite reasonable to imagine that there will be clear benefits for the agency if they can get all their freelance translators to use their system, and if that is what they want, what can you really do? Some CATs simply are not compatible with other systems, which is rubbish and stupid in my view, but if a client has already invested in a particular system and it is not compatible with your favourite CAT, there's not a lot you can do.

In the end, it's a question of whether you want to work for that particular client or not, isn't it?


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Ricardy Ricot  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:54
French to English
+ ...
Only you Nov 6, 2012

Only you should decide which CAT you will use, Christine. It takes time to master a CAT tool. That would slow you down and prevent you from getting as much done as before.

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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:54
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
The translator decides which tool he/she uses Nov 6, 2012

For example, I am using one CAT tool, the one I choose - that's it.

But with regards to online tools, I won't touch any of them until they offer a proven "traceability" solution. Imagine, you enter your translation, the reviewer edits it, the proofreader edits it, the clients in country manager edits it, and at the end it is crap and they are turning to you to blame you that you produced it.

Doesn't happen - Happened to me - One year after delivery of my translation. Only the fact that I did not use their online system allowed me to prove that the translation I sent them did not contain the wrongly spelled product name.


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xxxchristela
The translator decides which CAT he uses Nov 6, 2012

And the client too.

You can suspect a client who invested in an online tool to have really big memories and glossaries, created over years. You'll have to use them fully, and not your own ones. It's up to you to decide if you want to adapt.

I used one of these proprietary tools. From the practical side, while translating, I had my own system working in the background. My TMs were of no use of course (other subjects), but WF's Ctr+C and glossaries remained available, for consultation purposes only.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 20:54
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Of course clients have a point Nov 6, 2012

They have to work with many different translators, and CATs are not always entirely compatible.

The ones we like best as translators may not be the best for agencies, either - I know one agency at least wrote to translators that it had problems with the server version of a very popular CAT.

However, I do not like being more or less ordered to use software that is not mainstream, and which will cost me time and money. I have heard of a lot of CATs and tried several... And I was not impressed with online, server-based TMs, to say the least. As the jobs I do are small and I never work simultaneously with others, online TMs simply mean extra hassle and risk for me.

Employers pay for machinery and train their employees to use them as a rule - but clients are not our employers. I have never been paid extra for the learning time either...

Well, I will not have any more trouble with this particular agency - I don't work for them regularly, and their uploading and invoicing systems are a pain too in my opinion!

I am afraid some agencies will have to make do with clean documents and a .tmx from me, or align the translation with the source themselves. Luckily most of my clients use the same CAT as I do, and that is one reason why I chose it!



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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:54
Member (2004)
English to Italian
I don't touch them... Nov 6, 2012

there are no real added benefits for us. We don't even get to keep a TM. They are too client-centric for my taste.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:54
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Can't be said too often :) Nov 6, 2012

Christine Andersen wrote:
clients are not our employers.

Absolutely! Let's be clear about that for the benefit of any new translators reading this. They don't employ us and they don't pull the strings.

Of course, we can choose to fit in with their requirements if it suits us (e.g. if we're in the unhappy position of needing the work very badly), but normally if a client proposes 'production line' working conditions, then it's not likely to be a happy experience. I've been fleeing this sort of attitude all my life: as an executive secretary back in the 1970s there were the dreaded typing pools, then as a programmer my employer was bringing in programming pools...

These sort of initiatives may look good at first, but they always lead to mediocrity and discontent, in my experience. Better to stay a valued partner of a few specialist agencies and direct clients, and risk quiet moments, than to be guaranteed high volumes from this sort of client, IMHO.


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Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:54
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Don't loose control over your resources Nov 6, 2012

Hi Christine,

I have also received this email. If you decided to go ahead and use their tool with your TM and TB - I am sure that it is possible to convert them somehow, first of all make sure that you won't loose control over these assets.

I guess it would it make to much sense if for the purpose of a short project you would upload all your TMs and TBs which THEY and all their translators could use permanently.

Best Regards
Stanislaw


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 20:54
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No way can I upload my TMS Nov 6, 2012

Stanislaw Czech, MCIL wrote:

I guess it would it make to much sense if for the purpose of a short project you would upload all your TMs and TBs which THEY and all their translators could use permanently.

Best Regards
Stanislaw


Hi Stanislaw

Thanks for the suggestion, but I have not cleaned out all the confidential segments collected over the years, when it was only possible to have one active TM and one for reference, so EVERYTHING went into my reference TMs. The glossaries also contain a lot of client-specific material, so I take great care to keep them confidential.

In some ways I go to a lot of trouble to meet my clients' wishes, but if I have to spend half my time thinking about how a CAT works and waiting for it to update, then forget it.

I even had one where I had to shut down and restart the computer every hour or so, because suddenly the keyboard converted to German, and all the commas and puntuation, plus the three extra letters in the Danish alphabet, had to be inserted as special symbols.

It was really easier to work with pen and paper! These things are supposed to help us, not hinder us...

Best wishes
Christine


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:54
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
You decide your end Nov 8, 2012

and they decide theirs. There might be a meeting point, but if not, I wouldn't worry and move on.

I'd just caution you to find other feedback on the use of their systems, in any case. Certain outsources have been known to impose proprietary CATs and later charge a subscription for their use after a year or so, as a separate line of business. It wasn't even bug-free...


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xxxLucyPatterso
English
I wonder if this is the same online CAT tool I dislike using ... Nov 8, 2012

I find it really cumbersome and do not like that I cannot work on my computer, with my own preferred CAT - also any internet lag or disconnections slow down work considerably.

I had one of these requests recently. I did some research and know the TM for my translation could simply be uploaded into their CAT tool - effectively the same result as working with their CAT surely. But the agency said no, the file needed to be translated in their online CAT ... ???

I refuse to use it as it will double my working time and makes me extremely frustrated, so I suppose the agencies are reducing their pool of translators if others think the same way.


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