Agencies providing their own online CAT / project management tools
Thread poster: Christine Andersen

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:53
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Mar 5, 2014

I received an e-mail from a recruiter this afternoon, asking if I was still interested in working for the agency she represented, or she would remove my name from their database.

I did a few jobs for them some time ago, and gave them a 5 on the BB. Then all went quiet, and I have not worked for them since 2011.

In the meantime they, like many other agencies, have set up a website where you can log in and enter your details, and THEY make out your invoice for you. In some cases in when it suits THEM, regardless ofwhether it suits you or complies with your local tax requirements.

They also ask you to fill in a calendar feature so they know when you are available or not. (Forget it - I set my 'out of office' and send a BCC mail to my favourite PMs. I don't have time to log in to a dozen or more websites and update all their callendars...)

This agency also has its own online 'translation management' program or CAT. They ask translators to use it 'free of charge and with free tutorials' for most of their jobs. You get to share their free TMs too...

Wait a minute.

I have invested a lot of time in trying out different CATs and finding the one I like best. I have also tried one or two of these online programs and do not like them as much as my own. If I use them, my work goes into their TM, but not into mine. I do not wish to spend unpaid hours watching their 'free' introductory webinars, thanks, when I can just start work straight away with my own CAT.

Added to that, they state that they pay lower rates for fuzzy matches if you use your own CAT rather than theirs.

They also say that bank charges on transferring fees are to be paid by the translator.

Well, at least they are honest enough to say so, and as it is a British agency, they can pay my fees into my account there without bank charges. Otherwise ... You can't even add an extra item on your invoice to cover bank charges, as one of my other clients has asked me to do, so he can pay them!

I think I am going to end up saying thanks, but no thanks for their offer.

Am I just getting stroppy in my old age, or is this totally unnecessary interference in my work?

What do others think about these websites?


Direct link Reply with quote
 
philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
. Mar 5, 2014

They have set up a website where you can log in and enter your details, and THEY make out your invoice for you. In some cases in when it suits THEM, regardless of whether it suits you or complies with your local tax requirements.


I find these quite useful, and they will usually accept an invoice from you if that's what you prefer.


They also ask you to fill in a calendar feature so they know when you are available or not. (Forget it - I set my 'out of office' and send a BCC mail to my favourite PMs. I don't have time to log in to a dozen or more websites and update all their callendars...)


Too much hassle.


This agency also has its own online 'translation management' program or CAT. They ask translators to use it 'free of charge and with free tutorials' for most of their jobs. You get to share their free TMs too...


This is no problem as long as it doesn't involve extra work on your part.


Added to that, they state that they pay lower rates for fuzzy matches if you use your own CAT rather than theirs.


Assuming you give discounts for fuzzy matches (which I don't think you should), this is not acceptable.


They also say that bank charges on transferring fees are to be paid by the translator.


Wholly unacceptable. They might just as well ask you to pay their electricity bill.


Am I just getting stroppy in my old age, or is this totally unnecessary interference in my work?


No, and yes.


[Edited at 2014-03-05 21:11 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-03-05 21:11 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:53
French to English
+ ...
Agree completely Mar 5, 2014

I agree wholeheartedly with you, Christine. I have worked occasionally for an agency in Switzerland who have their own CAT tool but I've never actually used it. They asked recently but I'm just not prepared to spend my valuable time learning yet another tool when I'm quite happy with the two I have! The job in question was quite small anyway, so I reckon it would have taken me longer to learn how to use the tool than to translate! Thanks, but no thanks. If you want my services, you'll just have to accept my terms....

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:53
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Accept the divide Mar 5, 2014

Dear Christine,

We must accept the divide between translators that can accept these demands and translators like us. I've never worked for agencies that try to automate their job completely and I've always been able to avoid those silly online CAT systems but I have conceded sometimes to bizarre upside down invoicing systems (I'll just send them my pro forma invoice to get my own records straight).

We must stick to our guns, and incite young translators to do the same, but I think the future will bring a dichotomy between translators: only the very best and/or highly specialised translators will be able to make a decent living. All other translations will create a downward spiral until the readers no longer care and don't expect any quality anymore. Look around in your supermarket and in the "restaurant" on the parking lot.

Shall we start a movement called Stroppy Translators?

Cheers,
Gerard


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:53
English to German
+ ...
Don't relinguish control over your business Mar 5, 2014

Christine Andersen wrote:

I received an e-mail from a recruiter this afternoon, asking if I was still interested in working for the agency she represented, or she would remove my name from their database.

I did a few jobs for them some time ago, and gave them a 5 on the BB. Then all went quiet, and I have not worked for them since 2011.

In the meantime they, like many other agencies, have set up a website where you can log in and enter your details, and THEY make out your invoice for you. In some cases in when it suits THEM, regardless of whether it suits you or complies with your local tax requirements ....


The fact that they are agencies/outsourcers contacting translators doesn't change the status of an independent translator to that of a dependent employee - but that's exactly how many agencies act towards translators. And many translators fall for it, they start thinking this is how it is; if I want to be a successful translator, if I want to get a translation, I better accept their terms. To the newbies: Don't be naive!

WE don't work FOR AGENCIES, THEY are buying a service FROM US.

They don't make the rules about our service. We do. Professionals like you know this, too many others don't. And we have repeated it too many times. How do they get away with it? Because many people just do whatever they're told/offered without considering the big picture - realistic aspirations for one's professional life. Don't jump through their hoops. You'll get burnt.

Christine Andersen wrote:
I think I am going to end up saying thanks, but no thanks for their offer.


I agree, Add: For your reference, here is an overview of my services: add link

Christine Andersen wrote:
Am I just getting stroppy in my old age, or is this totally unnecessary interference in my work?


You just don't need that. Yup.


“Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”
― Hans Christian Andersen, The Complete Fairy Tales

B


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 19:53
German to English
+ ...
How about charging? Mar 5, 2014

This is partly tongue in cheek and partly serious. If agency customers have convoluted systems that are time-consuming simply because it makes THEIR work easier, wouldn't it make sense to charge our time? In terms of learning their CAT systems, watching their Webinars and whatnot, it would make sense to do so at say $60/hour and bill them the time. Not that I think it would fly.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 02:53
English to Polish
+ ...
Some agencies have lost touch with reality Mar 5, 2014

It's understandable that they want things to be done their way and have control of the process, but when they fill invoices for you and disregard your own tax requirements they cross a line.

As regards their calendars etc., if they provided with you with at least €1000 worth of work a month, then perhaps it'd be worth it. However, some agencies give you a thousand words a month or so and still expect you to keep your calendar updated in their own online system. Well, that's what I call losing touch with reality. One can't enjoy privileges almost on par with a full-time employer while providing very little work when it suits him. Almost like those agencies don't know how things work in this industry, or don't care. I wish they'd wake up.

Custom CATs? Another nuisance. Make it no more unwieldy than Trados is and I might consider it.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:53
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
And this will be our motto Mar 5, 2014

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”
― Hans Christian Andersen, The Complete Fairy Tales



Isn't that true!
Gerard


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Giovanna Alessandra Meloni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:53
Member (2012)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Exactly. Mar 6, 2014

I totally agree with Łukasz

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

It's understandable that they want things to be done their way and have control of the process, but when they fill invoices for you and disregard your own tax requirements they cross a line.

As regards their calendars etc., if they provided with you with at least €1000 worth of work a month, then perhaps it'd be worth it. However, some agencies give you a thousand words a month or so and still expect you to keep your calendar updated in their own online system. Well, that's what I call losing touch with reality. One can't enjoy privileges almost on par with a full-time employer while providing very little work when it suits him. Almost like those agencies don't know how things work in this industry, or don't care. I wish they'd wake up.

Custom CATs? Another nuisance. Make it no more unwieldy than Trados is and I might consider it.


And, Christine, you are not too old, the problem are the agencies like this.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:53
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Charging? Yes! Mar 6, 2014

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

This is partly tongue in cheek and partly serious. If agency customers have convoluted systems that are time-consuming simply because it makes THEIR work easier, wouldn't it make sense to charge our time? In terms of learning their CAT systems, watching their Webinars and whatnot, it would make sense to do so at say $60/hour and bill them the time. Not that I think it would fly.


No need for tongue-in-cheekiness. I'm doing this with two agencies. I told them that I'd have to charge five to ten minutes per job for doing their paperwork. They want to have work for an office employee done by a qualified translator whose hourly rate - presumably - is more expensive? Ok, no problem.

Both agencies chose to handle their paperwork themselves instead of paying me for it.

Edited to add: When I say paperwork, this includes up- and download of source and target texts etc. This means I do not have to login into their clumsy system (it was called Plunet, I think), we're just exchanging regular mails the old fashioned way.





[Bearbeitet am 2014-03-06 12:23 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:53
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Several points Mar 6, 2014

There are good paradigms, however implementation quality may vary a lot.

They might have seen it elsewhere, and implemented something good in their own sweet way.

Say they own a (cheap) restaurant. One day, they went somewhere else, had strogonoff, liked it, and decided to make their own. So they'll replace top sirloin with chicken or pork, whichever is cheaper there. If milk cream is expensive, they'll use lard instead, and so on. It's easy to see that, if offered, a hungry dog will turn away from the goo they'll be making.

I did some extensive work for an agency that implemented the "good" way of doing it.

Christine Andersen wrote:
In the meantime they, like many other agencies, have set up a website where you can log in and enter your details, and THEY make out your invoice for you. In some cases in when it suits THEM, regardless of whether it suits you or complies with your local tax requirements.


This agency provides a DOC template for invoices. It is a fact that too many translators don't know how to issue a proper invoice. Their reason is that their accountant is an EN monoglot, and he won't understand anything radically different. Every translator is free to add any details they consider relevant for their own tax requirements.

The point is that they are extremely fast payers. So their accountant needs only one glance at that standard invoice to know exactly what to do. Sometimes they pay on the very same day the invoice is received. They don't leave a chance for an invoice having to round-robin on a accountant/PM/translator triangle for clarification.

This is very different from some other agencies where the invoice is virtual: it only exists in THEIR system, and if the translator wants it in hard copy, the only option is a screen capture. If it 'accidentally disappears' in their system, the translator will have a hard time to prove their entitlement to any pay.

Christine Andersen wrote:
They also ask you to fill in a calendar feature so they know when you are available or not. (Forget it - I set my 'out of office' and send a BCC mail to my favourite PMs. I don't have time to log in to a dozen or more websites and update all their callendars...)


Many agencies have this, and I think it's quite inconsiderate.
A translator who usually works for, say, a dozen agencies, when they land a big job, simply won't have the time to go through all the hoops of logging in to each one's web site to post their unavailability.

I use the Proz calendar as my standard availability record, and my plans are to put a direct link to it on my web site. Some of my most frequent clients already check it before asking me on my availability. They already know that green doesn't mean that I'm jobless; it means that I still have ample time to meet all my deadlines. If it's anything really big, they'll ask me about it.

Christine Andersen wrote:
This agency also has its own online 'translation management' program or CAT. They ask translators to use it 'free of charge and with free tutorials' for most of their jobs. You get to share their free TMs too...

I have invested a lot of time in trying out different CATs and finding the one I like best. I have also tried one or two of these online programs and do not like them as much as my own. If I use them, my work goes into their TM, but not into mine. I do not wish to spend unpaid hours watching their 'free' introductory webinars, thanks, when I can just start work straight away with my own CAT.

Added to that, they state that they pay lower rates for fuzzy matches if you use your own CAT rather than theirs.


This "good" agency does it the right way. They specialize in humongous translation jobs, involving some 6-10 translators in each pair, and consistency is a must.

So they provide a portable MemoQ license to each for the duration of the project (unless the translator already has it on their own), and we work together on the same cloud. We are also all (PM included) together on a Skype channel to discuss any particular issues.

Project management is open, on a spreadsheet on Google Docs, so we all know what's going on.

They pay a slightly lower rate, still acceptable, however there are NO discounts for fuzzy matches nor repetitions. Everyone gets paid the same flat rate per source word they have translated. In fact, for the sake of consistency, if someone else has already translated that word, expression, or phrase, we MUST use it from the TM. If we don't agree, we'll discuss (on Skype), get a consensus solution, and the PM will have the system automatically update all instances of it.

For the record, I have and use WordFast. Both Kilgray and this agency provide free training and immediate guidance on its use. I only use MemoQ for this client.

Christine Andersen wrote:
They also say that bank charges on transferring fees are to be paid by the translator.

Well, at least they are honest enough to say so, and as it is a British agency, they can pay my fees into my account there without bank charges. Otherwise ... You can't even add an extra item on your invoice to cover bank charges, as one of my other clients has asked me to do, so he can pay them!


This is a result of amateur translators accepting anything they are offered. Technically, the translation client should pay the NET amount agreed to the translator. One of their options would be to take cash, board a plane, take a cab, and bring it to the hands of the translator.

If they use banks to do it, they have a choice, and so do I. They should cover the fees charged by the bank they chose. I pay BRL 40 to receive any wire transfer at the bank I chose. Some colleagues here in Brazil tell me they pay BRL 150 for exactly the same service at a different bank. It's their choice. Each side should cover the expenses resulting from their very own choices in banking.

Just as it would be unfair for me to try forcing the agency to move to a lower-fees bank, it would be unfair for me to charge them BRL 150, when I can get the same service in the same country for BRL 40. So easch side should pay their fees.

PayPal is an exception. It is owned by - and hence designed for - eBay, not necessarily translation. If an agency loves it because it's apparently free, they should know that there are - and pay for - hefty fees on the receiving side.

So it's a matter of adopting good paradigms AND implementing them properly. Otherwise I'm out!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:53
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I am not opposed to these sites in principle Mar 6, 2014

Another of my clients has one that works well.

The PMs ALWAYS send a personal mail about the job, which you can reply to at length or simply with a couple of lines - sorry, not available until xxxday, or yes, thanks, I'll take the job.

You can see the files first of course... and negotiate the deadline if it is negotiable, ask about terminology, whatever you need. The human touch is still there, and saves everyone time, because they can deal with questions before they develop into big problems.

The system for uploading and downloading files is quick and easy...

The invoice is editable until you click on a particular button, with spaces for the mandatory numbers, and invoices can be made out at any time, although they do tell you clearly when they collect pending invoices for final approval and pay them (15th and last day of the month + 30 days.)

They say it makes life easier for them, but it certainly works well for me too.

There are systems that benefit everyone, but they have to be carefully designed.
__________________________

I should probably send a mail to the agency that has contacted me after a gap, and explain things from my side.



[Edited at 2014-03-06 14:28 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Agencies providing their own online CAT / project management tools

Advanced search







SDL MultiTerm 2017
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2017 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2017 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »
memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search