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Do you keep statistics about your work?
Thread poster: Christina Baier
Christina Baier  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 11:20
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
Jan 14, 2016

Hi everybody!

I would like to know if you are keeping statistics about your work, for example

- Number of words translated/ reviewed per language pair/ per year/month…
- Number of words/ projects translated with or without CAT-tools
- Number of words/ projects per special field
- Number of projects per client

I have been thinking about that recently and I imagine it could help to focus on the right things. (Presuming that doing statistics instead of actually translating is one of them)


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Richard Foulkes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:20
German to English
+ ...
Just money made and time worked... Jan 14, 2016

Word count is vanity, profit is sanity. I've just made that up. Obviously, you should keep whatever stats work for you.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:20
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Yes - statistics can be very useful Jan 14, 2016

It would be daft to spend time feeding the data in every time you do a job though. I set up an Excel spreadsheet several years back that serves several different purposes.

- It keeps track of every job that comes in to ensure I actually deliver the work on time
- It calculates the total amount for a job paid by word, which I use in my quote so the client gets the same number.
- It gives all the information for the invoice with a simple copy/paste
- It enables me to record any necessary information in free-form text
- The column of time spent serves for the invoice for hourly paid jobs

Other columns get filled automatically with words per hour translated and income per hour for editing, totals of words processed and money earnt in each service, totals by specialisation and by major clients... Whatever seems useful. I sometimes spend a few seconds (literally) calculating a different total or average for a one-off purpose. For example, at year end I'll calculate percentages for various clients (by volume and income), or I'll produce something specific to support an important quote.

It takes no time at all after the first couple of hours setting it up, and that time has had a great ROI as it saves time on each invoice, and reduces the risk of forgetting anything.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:20
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Word counts are meaningless Jan 14, 2016

Source or target words?
There is a difference of 20-25% in my language pairs.

With or without Trados repeats?
(Don't get everyone started on that ...)

I have no head for figures, so once I have made out the invoice and provided my accountant with the details he needs, I forget them.

Subject areas?
If anyone asks, I run my eye down my worksheets for the last few months and count clients in each category. Then I tell them what I like. Suffice it to say I'm a generalist...

Projects per client?
Again, totally meaningless.
One of my best long-term clients has sent me scores of tiny snippets over the years, interspersed with longer jobs. Many LESS THAN 100 WORDS... and occasionally reports with several thousand.
Some send a single job and never come back.

Most of my jobs are small, and I do 20-50 a month.
Some are continuations of earlier jobs, or partial updates, maybe not whole new jobs...

The picture is totally fragmented and statistics would be a complete illusion.
Statistics have to involve far larger samples to be significant. Otherwise there is the famous saying:

There are while lies, black lies - and then ther are statistics!

Not that I don't have other ways of checking my progress, some gut feelings, some logical.
What does it matter, as long as clients are satisfied, and pay?


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 17:20
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
My invoices Jan 14, 2016

Christina Baier wrote:

I have been thinking about that recently and I imagine it could help to focus on the right things. (Presuming that doing statistics instead of actually translating is one of them)


My invoices keep all records for statistics in details. I use Excel to process the data on yearly basis by setting conditional data reading out of files like an accounting software. However, the data are generally random since many jobs are done under certain lump sum bases.

Soonthon L.


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Natalie Soper  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:20
French to English
+ ...
Some... Jan 14, 2016

In order to buy PI insurance I had to work out the percentage of my work which came from overseas clients, and break them down by country.

Also, as it's my first year of freelancing, I've worked out what ratio of my work is French vs Spanish, how many projects/words I work on per month, and am keeping a graph of how my income is fluctuating. You know, just for fun.


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:20
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Amounts, not words Jan 14, 2016

as my jobs are counted in various units (source or target words, target normalized pages, or even flat rate jobs), I do both translation and proofreading, and until recently also interpreting. My statistics include earnings per month (important to avoid paying VAT), per client (to avoid dependency on one client, and to see whether I don't work too much for "bottom feeders"), and per language pair.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Snap Jan 14, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

It would be daft to spend time feeding the data in every time you do a job though. I set up an Excel spreadsheet several years back that serves several different purposes.

- It keeps track of every job that comes in to ensure I actually deliver the work on time
- It calculates the total amount for a job paid by word, which I use in my quote so the client gets the same number.
- It gives all the information for the invoice with a simple copy/paste
- It enables me to record any necessary information in free-form text
- The column of time spent serves for the invoice for hourly paid jobs

It takes no time at all after the first couple of hours setting it up, and that time has had a great ROI as it saves time on each invoice, and reduces the risk of forgetting anything.


Our very similar Excel log has been running unchanged for 23 years and provides all the statistics you could ever wish for (though I settle for monthly/annual sales).

With a one-(wo)man business, though, statistics can often be meaningless and gut feeling more useful, as Christine points out.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:20
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I wish I had, but... Jan 14, 2016

Christina Baier wrote:
- Number of words translated/ reviewed per language pair/ per year/month…
- Number of words/ projects translated with or without CAT-tools
- Number of words/ projects per special field
- Number of projects per client


I don't, but some clients seem to expect that most translators do this. The problem for me is that the number of words does not represent how much work I did. Some translation jobs are only 10 or 20 words, but they take 10-20 minutes to complete. Other translation jobs are 1000 words long (non-weighted word count) and take less than 1 hour to complete. Also, not many of my jobs are translation-only -- they often involve additional checking that I would not normally have offered if the client didn't ask for it. And I charge different rates for different clients (or different rates for the same client, for different project), so looking at money invoiced isn't a good way to evaluate my productivity either.


[Edited at 2016-01-14 12:57 GMT]


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 10:20
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes Jan 14, 2016

Just for my information, since 2005 I have been keeping statistics on the total number of words translated/reviewed over the year, broken down by:

- Total number of words translated/reviewed per language pair
- Total number of words translated/reviewed per special field

I also considered the number of projects per client until in 2010 when my first huge project to a new client amounted to almost the same as all the other clients put together that year… So, the fact is that statistics are what they are: just numbers.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:20
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Other ways... Jan 14, 2016

Christine Andersen wrote:
Not that I don't have other ways of checking my progress, some gut feelings, some logical.


Some things, I can measure.

1. Whenever a client asks me to do something that is not part of an existing job, I create a new job sub-folder for it. So, I can count the number of job sub-folders per year. For example, I had 1123 in 2013.

2. One can also count the number of invoices. For example, I had 225 in 2013.

3. Or, one can count the number of unique clients. For example, I had 83 in 2013.

4. I have a little program that takes a full-screen screenshot once a minute and saves 1/4 size image of it, so it's sometimes interesting to go through all those images later to see which minutes I actually "worked" on my computer. There is no way of putting that information into a graph, however -- it's just an interesting way of checking up on oneself.

5. For local tax purposes it is important for me to be able to prove that I worked at least X number of hours (1200 hours per year, I think). Due to the type of data that I gather in order to prove this, I'm able to create rudimentary "graphs" (grids, really) in Excel about some of my activity.

January 2011: hours in which I posted at least one ProZ.com post, including replies
Unfortunately I can't track the time I spend reading posts. In 2011 I often worked until 02:00 and then spend an hour or so reading/posting on forums, as you can see on the grid. I no longer do that.



January 2011: hours that appear as time stamps in all of my TMs
Unfortunately, this does not count hours spend proofreading my own translations or doing work that would not create time stamps in TMs.



January 2011: hours in which I had sent work-related e-mails
Unfortunately this does not count any hours that I spend writing them, in cases where I spend more than 1 hour writing an e-mail, nor does it count hours in which I read e-mails without replying to them.





[Edited at 2016-01-14 15:30 GMT]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:20
Member
English to French
TO3000 Jan 14, 2016

Christina Baier wrote:
- Number of words translated/ reviewed per language pair/ per year/month…
- Number of words/ projects translated with or without CAT-tools
- Number of words/ projects per special field
- Number of projects per client

Translation Office 3000 being a database, you can query whatever with a bit of effort to set up custom fields.
But the more detailed you want your statistics, the more data you have to enter (like subject area for every job, CAT/no-CAT, etc.).

But I'm mostly interested in outstanding invoices and income, even though knowing average wordcount, job count, invoices issued and edit/trans ratio per customer may also be interesting.
For instance in 5 full years between 2011 and 2015, I issued 282 invoices to 24 customers (top ten customers accounting for 93% of my income), totalling 1272 jobs.

Philippe


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Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:20
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
TO3000 + Excel Jan 14, 2016

Philippe Etienne wrote:

Translation Office 3000 being a database, you can query whatever with a bit of effort to set up custom fields.


Yes, I use TO3000 to set up custom fields for words and subjects. Actually, I've never managed to create build reports using Custom Queries - I even asked AIT if they might set up some training webinars to learn - but they haven't done that.

So I simply export my data to Excel and set up pivot tables there. I love reviewing my statistics every year. In fact I've just updated my ProZ profile with my word count for 2014.


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My experience Jan 14, 2016

Tracking word count is something you do when you are starting out. Then it becomes irrelevant as you know very well what your capacity is.

Statistics is helpful only if it does not become pain. The only thing that matters is having a comprehensive folder structure so you can pull any data point as needed (and data backup; preferably daily).

Ah, the online accounting system helps to have a quick look at your activity (reports). I'm using Xero (since they have very decent multicurrency support). Not the cheapest option, but if you are serious about your business you can certainly spare 30 pounds a month on that (and avoid doing bookkeeping in an Excel file that WILL go wrong, only we do not know when).


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 11:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dropping a client Jan 15, 2016

Looking at statistics may help you if you are considering how important a client is to you from a financial point of view. I had a good look at my Excel sheet and saw the stark truth about my oldest client staring me in the face and this has helped me to reach quite a momentous decision for me, which is to tell them that they can go with Lionbridge as far as I'm concerned, their rates are simply not worth my while. And before you ask, yes there are enough other clients to take up the slack, I don't particularly enjoy the work I do for this client, am frequently resentful as I do it, and although familiarity has made much of the work speedy for them, there was always new terminology to research.

And, you never know, they may come back...I shall of course express my decision gracefully, and give them due warning etc.


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