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Deadlines becoming tighter – a trend?
Thread poster: Sylvia Germroth Nordebo

Sylvia Germroth Nordebo  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 12:45
Member (2006)
Swedish to German
+ ...
Feb 6, 2015

Hello everybody!

Since the beginning of the year I have been wondering if it is only a coincidence or if it is a general trend that agencies set deadline which – for me – are difficult to hold. It is especially two agencies I have been working for for a while and enjoyed working with and have had reasonable deadlines and interesting projects. They have started to sent requests with for example 15k new words financial they want to get translated in 3 working days or they send requests in the afternoon for 4k next morning (ok, they offer to split between translators, but still), I see about the same development with another agency.

Until now I tried to keep a volume of about 12-15k words a week, but I am asking myself if I have to rethink my strategy, but I am not really sure how, because it feels like personal limit for delivering the right quality.

Does anyone have similar experiences, observations?

Kind regards
Sylvia


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:45
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nope Feb 6, 2015

Everything quite normal on my end, and I work on a weekly basis for a dozen agencies in different European countries and the US.

 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Do not say no, propose your deadline Feb 6, 2015

I am afraid this is the best you can do. I had the same experience with otherwise wonderful agencies. I started pushing myself to and beyond the limit (6k words legal text to receive Friday afternoon and to deliver Saturday evening, etc.).

If I receive such a request with unrealistic deadline, I simply propose them the realistic one. Most of the time they agree. If they do not, I politely walk away.

As for trend, I see no trend, really. Most of my customers propose me challenging yet realistic deadlines. I do really think it is PM/agency-specific.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Probably Feb 6, 2015

As agencies get bigger and more corporate, they seem to care less about quality, sending translation requests out to numerous translators and giving the work to the cheapest/quickest rather than the best.

Surely it has to backfire on them in the end.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:45
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Time for them Feb 6, 2015

Bear in mind that the deadline an agency gives you will be based on the time they need, after you've delivered the translation, to check it before they send it on.

At one particular agency I work with on a regular basis, one of the PMs appears to be only in a couple of days a week, and I know she has a small child to look after. I suspect the deadlines she gives me are based on when she's going to be in the office!

Fortunately, with this agency, the deadlines are always very generous and I never have to work in a terrible rush.


 

XXXphxxx  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:45
Portuguese to English
+ ...
More middlemen(women) Feb 6, 2015

The chain from the end client to the translator has become much longer. A lot of work these days is sub-contracted from agency to agency multiple times leading to shorter deadlines for the translator and greatly reduced rates.

 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:45
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Can't be - it happened long ago Feb 6, 2015

Way back in the good old days, the agency I worked for had the PMs trained to take account of 'red days' on a calendar, which we translators were asked to update.

These indicated how much work we had in hand, before we could take on aything new. It was before Trados for most of us, and any self-respecting translator usually had 7-10 red days chalked up and some 'green' (less urgent) ones after that.

Clients knew that translation took time, although we did regularly have rushed jobs and short deadlines, not to mention the occasional panic...

Then came the crisis, and translators could often fit in jobs at much shorter notice. Trados started telling them that with this magical CAT we could save time and money, and expectations went berserk.

Google Translate poured petrol on the fire by producing 'instant translations' ... Now some people think that with just a little 'tidying up' we can deliver anything at the drop of a hat. Fancy management courses about 'lean' and 'just in time' give people ideas about cutting corners too.

Luckily there are still those who know what really goes on, but you have probably run into a wave of those who don't.

And there have always been the sort who think translation is 'just typing' and do not allow time for it.

I'm afraid it is nothing new, but as business picks up and more work needs to be done, schedules are tighter all the way round.

Lisa is probably onto something too - the agencies seem to have to send everything through three rounds of QA these days, and I suspect all that meddling is often counterproductive.

The only answer is to keep educating clients - new people who know nothing are born every day. icon_biggrin.gif


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:45
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Middlepeople (is this PC?) or in-betweens Feb 6, 2015

Lisa Simpson, MCIL MITI wrote:

The chain from the end client to the translator has become much longer. A lot of work these days is sub-contracted from agency to agency multiple times leading to shorter deadlines for the translator and greatly reduced rates.


Definitely, Lisa.

Whenever anyone is offered a serious-looking job with a lower-than-usual rate and a shorter-than-usual deadline from an apparently reputable agency, chances are that the job has been agency-hopping in pursuit of the right professional to do it.

While some translators - yours truly included - refer jobs/clients to colleagues at no charge, no agency will relinquish the chance of making a few pennies after taxes by reoutsourcing.

Some agencies indeed offer compensation to translators who send jobs their way.

The worst malady that afflicts our trade is "desperados"...

  • Desperate translators (or "tranzlaters"?) who will gladly take 1¢/word jobs.
  • Desperate agencies who will hire anyone cheap enough.
  • Desperate end-clients who will pay anyone anything to get their translation done well and on time.

    [Edited at 2015-02-06 11:44 GMT]

     

  • Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
    United States
    Local time: 06:45
    German to English
    Alternate theory Feb 6, 2015

    I don't disagree with the opinions already expressed, however I've noticed among new direct clients that they believe
    a) machine translation is somehow involved in the process, thus reducing turnaround time,
    or
    b) they can try using machine translation themselves, only to discover the serious shortcomings of MT, thus delaying having a document translated professionally.

    The consequence is that agencies/translators are put under greater time pressure.

    Since competition among agencies has forced rates down in various market segments, many agencies try to offer faster turnaround time as their competitive advantage.

    It's all a race to the bottom.


     

    Tom in London
    United Kingdom
    Local time: 11:45
    Member (2008)
    Italian to English
    Not I Feb 6, 2015

    Kevin Fulton wrote:

    It's all a race to the bottom.


    Well, if is is, I'm not a participant.


     

    Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
    Local time: 12:45
    Member (2006)
    Spanish to Dutch
    + ...
    What I am missing here.... Feb 9, 2015

    .... is quality! Is nobody interested in that anymore? (I mean clients)

    Short deadlines/fast turnarounds and low rates will produce bad quality.


     

    Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
    Denmark
    Local time: 12:45
    Member (2003)
    Danish to English
    + ...
    Depends what you mean Feb 10, 2015

    Robert Rietvelt wrote:

    What I am missing here....

    .... is quality! Is nobody interested in that anymore? (I mean clients)

    Short deadlines/fast turnarounds and low rates will produce bad quality.


    Some agencies are totally hysterical about what they consider 'quality'.

    They have fancy systems galore for checking whether the translator has ended the sentence with the same puntuation as the source, counting capital letters and commas, or raising the alarm if you write two, three, four etc. instead of 2, 3 and 4 in straight text (all of which may be different in my source and target languages). Not to mention adding the international dial code to telephone numbers...

    QA, revising, editing... All of which takes up time, and I suspect a lot of it is counter-productive. As for filling in forms and classifying 'errors' into a dozen different categories, I simply refuse.

    OK, these things do have to be correct, but I spend time rejecting and ignoring a lot that has been 'incorrectly localized' - but actually correctly translated.




    [Edited at 2015-02-10 10:56 GMT]


     

    Maxi Schwarz
    Local time: 05:45
    German to English
    + ...
    Who sets the deadline? Feb 10, 2015

    The standard query from my regulars i.e. agencies is "Can you do this? What is your fee? When can it be delivered?" The person who sets the deadline should be the person who does the work. That goes hand in hand with promise of quality as well as reliability. In that case a deadline cannot "become" tighter since it's in our hands. What I have found, however, is that end clients seem to be squeezed tighter and tighter and so we do end up having to help them out of time-wise difficult situations, and of course agencies get these clients too.

     

    Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
    United Kingdom
    Local time: 11:45
    Member (2012)
    French to English
    Frustrating, isn't it? Feb 10, 2015

    Offers of work that you would like to do, if only the deadline were reasonable.

    I had one last week, towards the end of the day, wanting 5.5k words translated for EOB the next day. I told them I would need more time, and they said I could have until start of business the following day (allowing me the luxury of working through the night). Oh, and they were offering £0.04 per word. A low rate, but I still would have accepted, as I haven't had any work recently. Anyway, they must have found someone else who was capable of doing that job in the time-frame, as I didn't hear back from them again.


     

    XXXphxxx  Identity Verified
    United Kingdom
    Local time: 11:45
    Portuguese to English
    + ...
    Spot on Feb 10, 2015

    Christine Andersen wrote:

    Some agencies are totally hysterical about what they consider 'quality'.

    They have fancy systems galore for checking whether the translator has ended the sentence with the same puntuation as the source, counting capital letters and commas, or raising the alarm if you write two, three, four etc. instead of 2, 3 and 4 in straight text (all of which may be different in my source and target languages). Not to mention ading the international dial code to telephone numbers...

    QA, revising, editing... All of which takes up time, and I suspect a lot of it is counter-productive. As for filling in forms and classifying 'errors' into a dozen different categories, I simply refuse.



    It's got absurd and I wonder where it's all heading.


     
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