cooperation with a little big company - a worthwhile relationship or a waste of time?
Thread poster: Wojciech Szczerek

Wojciech Szczerek  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:41
English to Polish
+ ...
Nov 5, 2017

I'd like to ask about people's experience with performing projects for big corporations.

I've just had one of those very awkward projects in my career I wouldn't like to repeat ever again.

Urgent project coming in to my e-mail, lots of technical abbreviations in the description, with the deadline basically the same day (even though it was Friday afternoon) that turned out to be Monday.

Apart from translation an SDL project (pre-processed with automatic translation provided) I was supposed to provide a report from their post-translation quality checking application. Apart from all those seemingly reasonable requirements, no mention of the PO or even the amount I would be getting for the task.

To cut the long story short,
no clear answer was given about the amount I'd receive. Nor was I told how to use the QA application, which turned out to be requiring checking a deal of files I wasn't granted access to after two days of waiting (sic!). All this after exchanging e-mails with (I am not kidding here) 5 different people being involved in the project on their side as well as basically ramming through every corner of their multiple online platforms. To no avail.

The result? No answer to my question about the QA tool, while the answer to my question about the amount... that it is "their standard rate", which, I was told, was in the system. No-one could explain to me how to find it though.

Not only that, after I started translating (I know, mea culpa), I was told that the PO would be issued AFTER the task has been submitted and accepted by them.

Is there something I don't know about the industry, or is it a standard now that big companies like them require people to work without being told about the pay?

Not only that, the most frustrating fact is that there seems to be an enormous amount of resources split between different portals that a vendor (me) can log into, but none seems to be answering my questions. Plus the long manuals which are, again, required to be read, but do not answer them either.

My opinion? Given then scarcity of projects in my language pair and specialisation that they offer and the fact that I had to read the dozens of documents which haven't brought me any closer to knowing how their big engine actually works, it's a complete waste of time.

What's your view on that?


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:41
Member (2004)
English to Italian
waste of time... Nov 5, 2017

I guess you've learnt your lesson... icon_smile.gif

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:41
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Beats me Nov 5, 2017

How can any professional business person accept an assignment without having clearly accepted payment terms? I can understand that there may be times when you go along with what an agency client says you'll get paid and when, although I personally insist that they leave me to quote my terms. But I can't understand how anybody could actually start work without knowing:
- how much is going to be paid
- when it's going to be paid
- how the money is going to be received
- the scope of the job
- any other details, such as the invoicing details.

There are bullies in every walk of life, from nursery playground up. The reason they are so prevalent in translation services is that there's an endless supply of freelancers who allow themselves to be bullied.

I sympathise with you - it was clearly a horrid experience. But unless you radicly change your business processes I'm afraid it won't be long before you have other equally upsetting experiences.


 

Marcella Marino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:41
Member (2016)
English to Italian
+ ...
Sorry Nov 5, 2017

Hi Wojciech,

I am sorry about what you experienced.
However, you can't accept and, what is worse, start a job at all without knowing basic information such as the ones you do not know yet. I totally agree with Sheila and Giovanni.
Try to see it in this way: now you know how to manage such situations!


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:41
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
No way Nov 5, 2017

Clients I know well, I don't mind starting without a PO. In fact there are a couple of agencies who only ever do the PO after the job, but I know the guys running them, I know they won't try to cheat me.

Someone I've never worked with before, no way will I translate a single word unless they have accepted my estimate in writing.

Not just discussion, but acceptance of the estimate in writing, otherwise things are just not clear-cut enough to make it worth my while.


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:41
French to English
Yes and No Nov 5, 2017

Of course you can work with big corporations. Not all of them work like that. I feel sorry for this person's colleagues. I imagine he/she works the same way in the office and must be hell to work with. You can't judge all big corporations by this experience, however you can learn from it. Sheila has set out the things to get sorted out before you accept a job, whoever the client.

[Edited at 2017-11-05 22:37 GMT]


 

Wojciech Szczerek  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:41
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks and thoughts Nov 9, 2017

Thanks everyone for the words of warning, critique, consolation and advice.

My main point posting this message here was most of all to warn other people like me from agreeing to any work they have no clear details of.
Secondly, I wanted to find out if anyone actually had any similar experience with the particular company I am referring. Most probably none of you had, but that's not a problem. The discussion is always fruitful.

Answering you question @Sheila, a professional can do such a thing if they know that project is very short (it was), while their current schedule is relaxed enough for them to spend the time on a project like that. I've been registered with the company for more than a year now. The amount was not known for this small project, yet I could compare it to previous projects I had sent quotes for via the company's system.

I must say I've learnt a lot in the project, am happy it wasn't anything bigger (=more stressful), and... wouldn't like do it again. Mostly, because big companies like that simply expect us to submit to their massive processes that are beneficial only to them.

@Texte Style,
I still cannot understand why issuing a PO after the job has become an acceptable way of doing things for anyone. I expected that, similarly to my previous experiences, in my case after saying "yes" to being ready to do the job, I would receive a PO, not a package to be translated with all the details. The inertia agreement in this case must've played a big role.

The main problem with this (and probably) other big companies is the lack of responsibility for the project resting on any one person. The e-mail conversations I've had over the weekend seemed just endless and if it hadn't been for me being almost rude to some people who kept asking me for the completed project on and on again, I wouldn't have obtained any help from them whatsoever.

Bottom line: don't do anything until you've got everything sorted, even for the largest company on the planet.


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:41
German to English
Incompetent project managers Nov 9, 2017

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

Of course you can work with big corporations. Not all of them work like that. I feel sorry for this person's colleagues. I imagine he/she works the same way in the office and must be hell to work with. You can't judge all big corporations by this experience, however you can learn from it. Sheila has set out the things to get sorted out before you accept a job, whoever the client.

[Edited at 2017-11-05 22:37 GMT]


Not infrequently employees in a project with the lowest seniority are tasked with finding a translator. In most cases they have never done this before, and are only vaguely familiar with the company's procurement processes. This person might obtain general guidelines from an administrative office, but doesn't have a clue about how to communicate with an outsourcer, and assumes the outsourcer is fully cognizant of the company's procedures.

I've been there. Without going into detail I was contacted by a project engineer at a major multinational company (I had done jobs for them before – paid out of research slush fund – and was in some database). He initiated what I assumed were negotiations for a long-term project. I responded with a word/hourly rate as a guideline, but stated that I needed to know the extent of the project in order to provide a good estimate of the cost and delivery date. I never heard from him again, despite a few attempts to follow up. Exactly one year later another engineer contacted me wanting to know why I hadn't submitted a proposal for the translation. The deadline for their project was approaching, and they needed the documents ASAP. The original engineer had left the company shortly after he contacted me, but left a memo with my contact details. Apart from having to work under time pressure (and paid accordingly), everything went smoothly after that. I made a lot of money on that job.


 

Geoffrey Black  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 16:41
Member (2017)
Hebrew to English
+ ...
Blue Board Nov 9, 2017

Another point, if not the primary one, is to check the Blue Board. I had a chap who agreed to all my terms, presented himself as being big, well known company, but turned out to be a shyster from Gaza. Naturally, I wasn't paid.....

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:41
Member (2008)
Italian to English
No, and no. Nov 10, 2017

Wojciech Szczerek wrote:
....no mention of the PO or even the amount I would be getting for the task....no clear answer was given about the amount I'd receive.....


You should have requested a PO and agreed the amount before accepting the job.


....Nor was I told how to use the QA application, which turned out to be requiring checking a deal of files I wasn't granted access to after two days of waiting ....ramming through every corner of their multiple online platforms....no answer to my question about the QA tool.....


If you were unfamiliar with these systems and didn't get any answers, you should not have accepted the job.

after I started translating (I know, mea culpa), I was told that the PO would be issued AFTER the task has been submitted and accepted by them


You should never begin a job until you have fully understood the requirements, have received confirmation or a PO, and have agreed on the amount you will be paid (or the rate)

Is there something I don't know about the industry ?


It appears that you don't know you shouldn't take on a job you can't do, or for which you have not agreed the payment.

is it a standard now that big companies like them require people to work without being told about the pay?


No, but it's up to you to ensure that you're told, and that you agree, before you start

the most frustrating fact is that there seems to be an enormous amount of resources split between different portals that a vendor (me) can log into, but none seems to be answering my questions. Plus the long manuals which are, again, required to be read, but do not answer them either


If you weren't happy about it you should not have accepted the job. It appears you accepted the job without properly looking into what it implied. You can't blame the company for that - only yourself.

it's a complete waste of time....What's your view on that?


Yes, it was a complete waste of your time.

The whole problem here seems to have been the urgency. Never accept an urgent job unless you're absolutely clear about everything you will need to do; that you have agreed how much you will be paid; and that you have received confirmation of the job, or a PO.

[Edited at 2017-11-10 08:44 GMT]


 


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