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Agency asks me to install their PM-Software - Thoughts?
Thread poster: Alexander Hartmann

Alexander Hartmann  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:04
Italian to German
+ ...
Nov 26, 2015

Hi colleagues,

I usually don't post and simply follow my guts but in this particular case I would appreciate some feedback. The situation is as follows:
Few days ago, the Vendor Manager of a well-known internationally established (and frequently acquired by some other company, big news ... / you will know who I mean) agency headquartered in Switzerland contacted me about including me in their database. After the usual dance about rates and whatsoever, we came to an understanding and are ready to start the collaboration. As a final step though, that new almost-client asks me to install their own Project Management Software on my computer (others have online portals for example, but these guys use a software based solution). I am hesitating since I am not fully comfortable with this approach. I am sure there are many colleagues here who got in touch with their Communication Studio, as they call it.

Any thoughts, experiences or advice you would like to share?


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:04
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
interesting Nov 26, 2015

That's interesting, I have never heard of such a thing. I'm also curious to hear if anyone has more info on this!

Michael


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 04:04
English to Polish
+ ...
No Nov 26, 2015

You could justifiably blame me for being somewhat rigid in this and other aspects of business and organization (and life), but here's the bare nucleus of what I oppose in situations like you described:

The notion of agencies and clients regulating translators in detail. They should generally stay away from our stuff. Our heads. Our desks. Our PCs. Our houses.

Less importantly, they need to understand that none of them are our only client or agency (respectively). There is no way we could have — and run! — twenty or so different software suites and communication protocols, for all of our agencies or major clients. Let alone for major clients!

Would you keep a download manager or webcam software or some other tiny utility in the memory of your computer at all times, always starting with Windows, if you only used it once a month?

I don't want to say there is no reason to treat every agency uniquely, but there is certainly no reason to give a random new agency preferred status — 'most favoured nation' — just because it wishes to have it.

Next, custom PM software, just like custom CATs, is open to the same problems as any other custom software, including especially inhouse creations. They are simply likely to be less well-developed, less well-tested, than mainstream commercial solutions. And an agency or client's sense of uniqueness or esprit de corps, or whatever else it's hoping to achieve by using that kind of software, is unlikely to be worth it from your own point of view.

So I would weigh the pros and cons and answer them honestly according to the outcome.


 

Alexander Hartmann  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:04
Italian to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Nov 26, 2015

I appreciate your response and agree with you to some extent.

It might be worth keeping in mind that it's not some random agency from some backyard but it's a leading and very very well established company.

Looking forward to more feedback!


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:04
Member
English to French
Ah, the major players... Nov 26, 2015

Alexander Hartmann wrote:
...Any thoughts...

You will do their project management yourself. It's smart, because it cuts costs on their side.
If it is a resident program that communicates with the outside, they may even be able to ask you to justify why you turned off your computer before 5pm yesterday.

And you don't even know if you're ever going to bill any work to them.

But then, you can expect such things with
well-known internationally established

agencies.

Long live "backyard" agencies.

Philippe


 

Alexander Hartmann  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:04
Italian to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
How Nov 26, 2015

How do I find out if that's the case?

 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:04
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Curiosity killed the CAT tool Nov 26, 2015

Alexander Hartmann wrote:

How do I find out if that's the case?


You're obviously curious, so just go and and install it (and uninstall it if it annoys you, which it most likely will). I mean, what's the worst that can happen, right? Hell, I'm curious now tooicon_wink.gif

I have a bookmark folder in Chrome called "All the Plunets" that currently contains 25 (!!!) different online agency portals. All with their own mountain of info PDFs, instructions and manuals. Such is life these days.

On the other hand, I am currently working on a very well paid job for a direct client, who pays 3 times what all my agencies pay, so your time might actually be better spent looking for new direct clients, instead of experimenting with yet another agency portal.

Michael


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 04:04
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
My gut says no. Nov 26, 2015

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz explained why, thank you Łukasz!

I prefer the medium to small agencies. They do the leg work and find clients, they support me when I need help, and they pay well. They keep me too busy to worry about big names too!

Stand up to the big agencies. They can't do without us! So we have to stand together and refuse to let them push us around.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:04
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Only if they pay for a PC to install it on Nov 26, 2015

Alexander Hartmann wrote:
As a final step though, that new almost-client asks me to install their own Project Management Software on my computer (others have online portals for example, but these guys use a software based solution).

I would not do this, largely for reasons of confidentiality. How do we know what this proprietary software will do, what information it will harvest from your PC and your network?

Ask yourself this: if you told this agency that you wanted to install your own proprietary software on their network "to improve translation efficiency", what do you think their response would be? That's right, it would be a "no", probably with an incredulous laugh, because that would be a huge security risk for them.

And "no", with an incredulous laugh, should be your answer to them.

Regards
Dan


 

Alexander Hartmann  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:04
Italian to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I like that Nov 26, 2015

I like your idea - "Only if they pay for a PC to install it on"

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
As Dan says: "And "no", with an incredulous laugh, should be your answer to them." Nov 26, 2015

Dan Lucas wrote:
Ask yourself this: if you told this agency that you wanted to install your own proprietary software on their network "to improve translation efficiency", what do you think their response would be? That's right, it would be a "no", probably with an incredulous laugh, because that would be a huge security risk for them.

I've just had to break off negotiations with a potential new agency client because their NDA insisted that I remove all trace of their clients' material from my computer. That clearly isn't possible for me to guarantee - I'm sure a hacker could get at it even after I'd pressed the delete key.

And yet, agencies are proposing we actually download their stuff? The mind boggles!
How do we know what this proprietary software will do, what information it will harvest from your PC and your network?


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:04
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
OK, but with a contract Nov 26, 2015

I think you could ask them whether they would be willing to sign a contract a) solemnly declaring that their software does not send any information, to them or to any third party, from your computer other than files and data 100% pertaining to their jobs and operations, and b) indemnifying and holding you 100% harmless up to the full amount of each and every claim of breach of confidentiality in any jurisdiction caused by the software installed in your computers as a result of their request.

If they are happy to sign such an agreement, I reckon it would be OK to install the software, as long as it does not operate in a way that you cannot reject job proposals (i.e. it does not turn you into an employee).


 

Alexander Hartmann  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:04
Italian to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks Nov 26, 2015

Many thanks for all your feedback!

I told them I will not install their software, simply for concerns of privacy and data protection.

On the one side, I simply don't like having something on my equipment that I don't know much about and on the other side, having signed (too) many NDAs and other "I am the most important agency in the world"-agreements, I said I could not guarantee not breaching agreements with other clients with their software.

I will keep you posted about their response, if interested.

Thanks again!


 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: Empty

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:04
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Depends on the software Nov 26, 2015

In principle I would say NO, but on the other hand, what is the harm? As Michael said, if you don't like it, remove it.

If it is a bonafide agency, why don't give it a try? Might work out in your favour.

[Edited at 2015-11-26 22:47 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-11-26 22:47 GMT]


 
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