Off topic: Project manager's biggest nuisance
Thread poster: Heinrich Pesch

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 20:57
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Oct 12, 2006

Perhaps this is a subject for a poll, but I don't know all alternatives.

Yesterday I attended a meeting of freelancers and project managers. We discussed freely various issues regarding our role in the translation process.

Surprisingly one PM stated, that her biggest nuisance were freelancers, that phone in every day and require lengthy discussions about terminology. Such discussions should be restrained to email, was the opinion of this PM.

Freelancers that are unpolite in their messages, not being aware that it's the PM who is the customer.

Another issues is availability. Freelancers that do not respond to email fast enough, do not answer the phone etc. (Understandable, but we are freelancers, no prisoners, I would think.)

Freelancers that always try to strech deadlines even if everything was agreed upon.

And then still the type that always, at every occasion explains how difficult the profession of translator is and how undervalued!

So what are your "favourites"? Freelancer-bashing round 1.

Regards
Heinrich

[Bearbeitet am 2006-10-13 05:30]


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:57
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
We're perfect Oct 12, 2006

Well, Heinrich,

It seems there's very little to reproach us...

My guess is that Friday afternoon is a bad moment to raise this subject. All PMs are now securing the translations they want to have on their desks on Monday morning, start of business.

Regards,
Gerard

Wow, woke up this morning and it was Friday all over again. Upside: I must be one day ahead of my schedule, downside: the PMs still have a whole day.

G.

[Edited at 2006-10-13 07:35]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:57
French to English
Mastery of the calendar? Oct 12, 2006

Gerard de Noord wrote:

My guess is that Friday afternoon is a bad moment to raise this subject.


While I'm sure there must be things I do that annoy my agency clients (altho' I have yet to hear what they are!), I do believe that it's unlikely I'll ever be accused of not knowing what day of the week it is


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:57
German to English
+ ...
Really? Oct 13, 2006

My pet peeve is project managers who don't want to deal with terminology questions! Seriously, though, there are many texts that contain company-specific stuff in the financial field, so this part of the process is essential in my opinion. Saves time in the end!

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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:57
French to English
+ ...
careful what you promise... Oct 13, 2006

Charlie Bavington wrote:

While I'm sure there must be things I do that annoy my agency clients (altho' I have yet to hear what they are!), I do believe that it's unlikely I'll ever be accused of not knowing what day of the week it is


I recently got back from holiday on a Monday evening, was very tired, and a PM phoned me early on my first day back at work. I almost ended up promising to deliver 7000 words in a day and a half, because I had forgotten what day it was. Luckily she questioned me just in time.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:57
French to English
Quite so Oct 13, 2006

Angela Dickson wrote:

Charlie Bavington wrote:

I do believe that it's unlikely I'll ever be accused of not knowing what day of the week it is


I almost ended up promising to deliver 7000 words in a day and a half, because I had forgotten what day it was. Luckily she questioned me just in time.


Yes, in retrospect, it was tempting fate, rather. Altho' I hope the gods will look kindly on me, as I was only teasing...


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:57
Member
English to French
Surely these criteria are considered when choosing the translator Oct 13, 2006

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

...
Surprisingly one PM stated, that her biggest nuisance were freelancers, that phone in every day and require lengthy discussions about terminology. Such discussions should be restrained to email, was the opinion of this PM.

Freelancers that are unpolite in their messages, not being aware that it's the PM who is the customer.

Another issues is availability. Freelancers that do not respond to email fast enough, do not answer the phone
...


This is common sense, just as you don't like to be bothered when you're working. But it seems that not everybody is aware that PMs may have other activities besides handling your own project.
An agency MD introduced me a few years ago to the concept of "low-maintenance translator". From what I gathered, between a "low-maintenance" translator (who doesn't bother the PM with unnecessary communication, writes invoices with all the details, meets deadlines agreed on from the onset, replies to ALL mails, etc.) and a "high-maintenance" one (who spends more of the PM/admin time), an agency is quick to see where their advantage is.

So besides translating well and meeting deadlines, I think one must also have a very small/nonexistent impact on the customer's workflow where the translator is concerned (seek resource>send source text>receive translated text). It may be a plus that shouldn't be overviewed.

Enjoy your weekend,
Philippe

[Edited at 2006-10-13 11:02]


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Nicole Martin
Local time: 13:57
German to English
Freelancers saved me many times! Oct 13, 2006

I'm an in-house translator at a company now, trying to break into the freelance world. But before I did this, I was a project manager at a translation agency.

I didn't get annoyed at the freelancers very often, actually I spent more time being grateful for their work. At my level, we were given the projects and had to get them done. We didn't accept or reject work from clients, we didn't negotiate or set deadlines. That meant we often ended up with projects that were large or complicated or had terrible deadlines, and we just had to make it happen. It was a very stressful thing, constantly worrying about how you would get the next project done. It was the freelancers who helped me hold onto a little bit of my sanity while I worked there.

I realize I had plenty of unreasonable requests (projects that required working at night, on the weekends, over holidays, etc.) and I felt really bad about having to ask translators to take them on. But over time, I got to know which translators were willing to help in situations like that and I came to rely on them quite a bit. I would end up sending as much of my work as possible to them, whether it was urgent or not, simply because they were so friendly and professional and I knew I could trust them.

The only problems I had were with a few specific translators, never with freelancers in general. They were the usual things: people accepting projects for a stated price and deadline, then trying to either raise the price or extend the deadline later. On a few occasions, translators would deliver late without notifying us or giving any explanation as to why, which left us more than a little anxious (especially when the client wanted to know where the project was and we couldn't get ahold of the translator!). And I remember a couple of ladies who would always get angry with me about how ridiculous the deadlines or pay were and lecture me about how I shouldn't ever expect things like to be accepted, only to have them accept the job and grumble about it the whole time they were working on it. That annoyed me because I tried to explain to them that I couldn't control those factors and I felt like I was getting blamed for someone else's decision. But I'm happy to say, all of those things were the exception. For the most part, I had very positive experiences.

So from a former project manager, thanks to all the professional, friendly and responsible freelancers out there!


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 19:57
French to Dutch
+ ...
Translators who ask for PO Oct 13, 2006

for just five, ten or twenty words.
There is also something like service to the client.

And of course, translators who aren't ready, and those who don't pick up the phone while terminating.


[Edited at 2006-10-13 14:12]


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 19:57
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Bashing? this is better Oct 13, 2006

So what are your "favourites"? Freelancer-bashing round


Here's an exceprt from a mail from a customer of mine:

....

o For every project we will grade you on the following 5 areas:

1. Speed of e-mail confirmation
2. Deadline acceptability
3. On-time delivery
4. Formatting
5. Quality

o You will be awarded: 5 points, 3 points or 1 point for each of those factors.

Evaluation Factor : 5 Points,3 Points,1 Point

E-mail confirmation: Within 30 minutes, Within 2 hours, Over 2 hours
Deadline acceptance: Date and time ok, Date ok, Change in Date
On-time delivery: Early > 1day, On time, Late
Formatting No changes needed, A few minor changes, Considerable changes
Quality: No issues, A few style issues, accuracy/grammar issues

...


What I like here, is a simple way of indicating what my business partner sees as a possible issue. To answer Heinrich's question, this is one of my favourites.

Regards

[Edited at 2006-10-13 16:25]


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 12:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
ESP Oct 13, 2006

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
Surprisingly one PM stated, that her biggest nuisance were freelancers, that phone in every day and require lengthy discussions about terminology. Such discussions should be restrained to email, was the opinion of this PM.


Different agency clients have different preferences of how they want us to communicate with them. Some of them let us know, and others expect us to be clairvoyants and figure it out ourselves.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 20:57
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Touché? Oct 16, 2006

About lengthy telephone conversations regarding terminology. The PM I cited in my original posting wants to have all such things in black on white, so there is no misunderstanding and it is possible to refer to the discussion later or forward it to the customer.

I find it understandable, that many freelance translator feel lonely during the day, but the PM should be not the culprit.

Best

Heinrich


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