End client Looking for feedback and information on investing in a CAT
Thread poster: Stacie Hiscock

Stacie Hiscock
United States
Oct 17, 2016

Hello!

I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Stacie, and I am the Translations Manager at my company. I am investigating the benefits of investing in our own CAT tool.

I wanted to post here to find out how having our own tool would help the linguists we hire. I work for an engineering organization, and due to the technical nature of the translations, all of our projects undergo an in-country review by Subject Matter experts. Therefore, another aspect of having this tool would be that the SMEs would also use it for their reviews. My boss uses a similar tool that SMEs use to review the online courses she develops, so we wonder if this is a direction in which we should go.

So, I have some questions, and would appreciate any and all feedback!

1. I envision that we will continue to use translation companies for our projects. Would you (as linguists) accept jobs from translation companies in which the end client has their own tool? Would that be considered a negative or a positive thing in your opinion? Also, please explain why you feel this way.

2. Which tools/software are considered the best? What at are positive aspects of each?

3. How is tech support for the tools?

4. Is there a compelling reason why my company should not invest in such a tool?

I thank you in advance for your help, and look forward to any information you can share with me! icon_biggrin.gif

Regards,

Stacie


[Edited at 2016-10-18 13:53 GMT]


 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:12
English to Spanish
+ ...
CAT tools, pros and cons of having your own Oct 18, 2016

Hi, Stacie,

In my 25+ years as a technical translator, I've used a number of proprietary and off-the-shelf software packages. As an in-house translator, I've been asked at times for guidance on which CAT tool to use for our workflows. In the interest of time and space, I can't elaborate much on each and every scenario, but I'm glad you put out smart questions for us to follow through.

1) Open standards, such as TMX (translation memory) and TBX (termbases) are still the name of the game. Although many commercial CAT tools claim to support a large number of different file formats (from MS Office to AutoCAD), there are other factors to consider. If you use specialty software, such as DTP software, drawing software or the like, your translation provider (agency or individual translator) should be able to demonstrate that they're intimately familiar with those specialty software packages, not that they have a CAT tool that can process those native file formats.
Trados, to name one tool, is not the profession's standard. Anyone who claims otherwise is, well, trying to sell you something. Your company may invest in its own CAT tool (be it Wordfast, Wordbee, Trados, Déjà Vu, OmegaT, etc.) but only based on your company's own workflows, not those of the CAT company maker or a given translation vendor.

2) I suggest you get in touch with Jost Zetzsche, the author of the Translator's Toolbox. He has written extensively about CAT tools individually, their pros and cons. His website is http://internationalwriters.com/

3) Tech support is one of the main lifelines of any software company, and a reliable cash cow or source of revenue. If you approach any of the big players, such as SDL, expect to be offered the team or corporate version of the tool, plus annual support fees or a similar tech support scheme. I'm sure you'll factor those extra costs into the investment. Some free tools, like OmegaT for Mac, are supported by the software's creator and/or a handful of volunteers. Although many translators like to use free CAT tools, the long-term viability of —as well as tech support for— those products is in question once the author is gone or moves to other endeavors.

4) I am sure there are many reasons that could be construed as compelling. Questions like “is my CAT tool budget realistic?” come to mind. You can always download a free trial of each tool you're interested in investing and run apples-to-apples comparisons.

Should you need to discuss this more, feel free to contact me.

MC


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 23:12
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Private information Oct 19, 2016

Stacie Hiscock wrote:

1. I envision that we will continue to use translation companies for our projects. Would you (as linguists) accept jobs from translation companies in which the end client has their own tool? Would that be considered a negative or a positive thing in your opinion? Also, please explain why you feel this way.

2. Which tools/software are considered the best? What at are positive aspects of each?

3. How is tech support for the tools?

4. Is there a compelling reason why my company should not invest in such a tool?



1. I envision that we will continue to use translation companies for our projects. Would you (as linguists) accept jobs from translation companies in which the end client has their own tool? Would that be considered a negative or a positive thing in your opinion? Also, please explain why you feel this way.
In the general law on hire for work, the worker is expected to have his or her sophisticated tools. I support this idea.

2. Which tools/software are considered the best? What at are positive aspects of each?
It depends on the objective of the respective job.

3. How is tech support for the tools?
Most tool suppliers support very well.

4. Is there a compelling reason why my company should not invest in such a tool?
They do not have staffs smart enough to master those tools excellently.

Soonthon L.


 

Jorge Payan  Identity Verified
Colombia
Local time: 11:12
Member (2002)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Your already existing content management structure can give you some pointers Oct 19, 2016

I wanted to post here to find out how having our own tool would help the linguists we hire. I work for an engineering organization, and due to the technical nature of the translations, all of our projects undergo an in-country review by Subject Matter experts.


I think the first aspect to be considered is if you already have a Content Management System (CMS) in place. if so, which CAT tools to use will be basically dictated by the interfaces that CMS features for translation and technical writing. if the volume of the content and number of languages to translate to justify so, you should also consider a full fledged TMS (Translation Management System).

Therefore, another aspect of having this tool would be that the SMEs would also use it for their reviews. My boss uses a similar tool that SMEs use to review the online courses she develops, so we wonder if this is a direction in which we should go.


It would be equally important to define how to interface the authoring tools (Arbortext, Articulate, MadCap, for mentioning the ones I have dealt with) your boss and the SMEs are using for developing and reviewing material , with the CMS you may have in place at the moment.

Specifically on your questions:

1. I envision that we will continue to use translation companies for our projects. Would you (as linguists) accept jobs from translation companies in which the end client has their own tool? Would that be considered a negative or a positive thing in your opinion? Also, please explain why you feel this way.


My personal opinion, as an engineer and technical translator myself (I am not a linguist): The end customer has made a well-thought and considerable investment on tools, and expect to get a full return from whatever system it puts in place. For simple competitive reasons, I have to cope with whatever is requested from me in that sense: interfaces, procedures, work flows, deliverables, etc., and yes, I do accept jobs from end customers having their own tools.

2. Which tools/software are considered the best? What at are positive aspects of each?


As stated above, it would depend on your current infrastructure and the extent of your foreseeable needs

3. How is tech support for the tools?


I have found that most of the providers are fully responsive for the system they sell, but they want to have nothing to do with the interfaces, for example, for TMS to CMS.

4. Is there a compelling reason why my company should not invest in such a tool?


Depending on the scale of your needs, you would need to have anything from a small server-based collaborative schema to a full CMS -TMS system. In my experience, the aspect which weights the most at the time of investing is the need of having IT specialized staff resources devoted to the Project Management and similar tasks.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:12
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Neither In-house nor Third-party Oct 19, 2016

Stacie Hiscock wrote:
I am investigating the benefits of investing in our own CAT tool.

I appreciate that you have taken the trouble to venture into the lion's den and bounce these questions off the community. It's not clear from the above whether you are referring to developing a CAT tool in-house or deploying an existing third-party tool chain available on the open market.

I'll keep it short: as a full-time, professional freelance technical translator I strongly prefer that my clients do not mandate anything. I have my own tools and workflows. Let's agree on a rate and a deadline and get down to work.

If you mandate a proprietary in-house tool, I will either charge you more or decline to do business with your organisation. Learning any unfamiliar interface takes time. If it is the interface for an in-house tool I will never be able to apply my knowledge of that interface to the work of another client. Moreover, I have never seen an in-house tool that can match the sophistication of the leading CAT tools. The ones I have used are clunky and well behind the curve in technical terms.

Both of the above factors imply lower efficiency. Lower efficiency means fewer words per day. Fewer words per day means lower income. That's not an attractive proposition for most freelancers.

If you mandate a tool provided by SDL, Star, Kilgray, Atril etc. you will still discourage those translators who do not use whatever tool it is that you chose. While SDL is probably the leader, it does not appear to me to be dominant, so if you choose SDL then you'll provoke sighs of exasperation from the MemoQ users (or vice versa) and indeed those who don't habitually use CAT tools at all. Having said that, any of the above would be better than an in-house tool.

Bear in mind the possibility of unintended consequences. Your organisation works in a very technical area and I'm betting that the pool of competent linguist talent is already shallow. The question I would ask is whether you really want to reduce it further by providing a disincentive for freelancers to work with you.

Again, thank you for at least taking the time to ask.

Regards
Dan


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:12
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
It is true but Oct 19, 2016

Mario Chavez wrote:
Trados, to name one tool, is not the profession's standard. Anyone who claims otherwise is, well, trying to sell you something.
Why did you mention that? Did the OP mention or even imply that?


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 18:12
German to Serbian
+ ...
Some answers from my POV. Oct 19, 2016

1. I envision that we will continue to use translation companies for our projects. Would you (as linguists) accept jobs from translation companies in which the end client has their own tool? Would that be considered a negative or a positive thing in your opinion? Also, please explain why you feel this way.

We have been asked this many times so far. I accept it if it matches my own tool that I am used to and trained with. It's not either positive or negative, it's a "take it or leave it" requirement. For instance, if it means investing more money in a new tool and spending more time learning about it/getting used to it, I will probably turn it down.

Just bear in mind we are freelancers and we deal with many different clients offering many different tools. And all these tools cost us money, guess who will not pay for them - agencies.


2. Which tools/software are considered the best? What at are positive aspects of each?

Can't tell that here, as that would be like advertising. And nobody paid me for it.

3. How is tech support for the tools?

It's OK.

4. Is there a compelling reason why my company should not invest in such a tool?

Depends on the needs of your company, can't really tell.

Hope this helps.


[Edited at 2016-10-19 10:11 GMT]


 

Renée van Bijsterveld  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:12
Member (2007)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Agree with open standards Oct 19, 2016

Hello,

1. I envision that we will continue to use translation companies for our projects. Would you (as linguists) accept jobs from translation companies in which the end client has their own tool? Would that be considered a negative or a positive thing in your opinion? Also, please explain why you feel this way.
In general I don't mind using the tool the customer wants me to use, if the tool is reasonably user friendly. So in general the tool in itself would not be an obstacle. The translation company you'd use may be an obstacle, not all translation companies are very translator friendly. That said, I'd try to avoid translation companies that use Across.

2. Which tools/software are considered the best? What at are positive aspects of each?
My tool of choice is Trados, but that may be a question of habit (a big client wanted me to use Trados the moment it first appeared on the market). I have only experience with Trados, Across and several customer specific tools. Plus for Trados is Autocorrection/autotext, but other CAT tools may have this function too.
That said, open standards would be best so the translator can decide for him-/herself what tool to use.

3. How is tech support for the tools?
Ok sofar.

4. Is there a compelling reason why my company should not invest in such a tool?
I don't see one.


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Who (properly) dares wins Oct 19, 2016

Welcome. Stacie.

I'm not sure whether Translations Manager really should be engaged in marketing or why your company rejects free tools, doesn’t consider a server-based license, or why CATs at all. Anyway, it’s a smart step to do one’s home task before leaping forward and out.

1) In fact, I don’t feel like installing some apps, let alone unfriendly, glitchy, sluggish, non-intuitive, oversized, and so on. Having worked with several CATs I still prefer so-called “native environment” (VBA add-ons to MS Office suit) and I’m reluctant to use (even free*) “cloud-based” CATs (not only NDA, but they often may go offline or be unreachable);
NEITHER positive, nor negative.

2) It depends on your clientele and their preferences. I often can do without a CAT, however, I would care about the CAT’s efficiency and efficacy the most.

3) Unfortunately, a modern tech-support is often but a cash-cow, overbloated to infamous “too late!”; perhaps, a new tool with a few clients would support promptly, on the other hand–less issues, less solutions, tinier knowledge-base, worse support–for awhile.

4) Here we go:
- there’re already plenty of CATs (also free or biz-oriented ones) –vs- investing time and money to a unique one (for what it’s worth);
- shared rights/terms –vs- it's all yours;
- a CAT has its users/follower, who may be eager to get involved –vs- starting from point zero;
- it doesn’t take your company long to implement –vs- takes a while or longer;
- it doesn’t require SOME translators to relearn –vs- it makes ALL relearn;
- it already has got (at least a kind of) Support –vs- it has some redirecting hotline;
- it supports many modern formats –vs- gradually implementing required formats;
And so on.

Shortly, if you have resources (people+money+time), then although for a decent programmer that magic “fuzzy matching” (similarity) feature is quite simple to develop and alpha-test, the venture does take and require much more than that.

Cheers

[Edited at 2016-10-19 13:08 GMT]


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:12
Member (2008)
French to English
My thoughts Oct 19, 2016

Stacie Hiscock wrote:

I wanted to post here to find out how having our own tool would help the linguists we hire.

It quite likely would not help professional linguists, who have their own working methods.

1. I envision that we will continue to use translation companies for our projects. Would you (as linguists) accept jobs from translation companies in which the end client has their own tool?

If I am required to work in the end client's tool, not usually. As others have said, I would usually charge a higher price for using a tool that is not my preferred and familiar tool, or more likely I would decline the job.

Which tools/software are considered the best? What at are positive aspects of each?

It's a highly personal choice. My personal favourite is MemoQ, followed by SDL, but that's because I get along with them best.

How is tech support for the tools?

For my favourite tools, excellent.

Is there a compelling reason why my company should not invest in such a tool?

While it might not be a compelling reason, the fact is a certain segment of professionals will not be available to you.

On the other hand, if you have a tool which provides files that can be worked on in most tools, such as XLIFF type files, this would allow both your firm and your providers to use their own favourite tool. This interchangeability may be a workable solution.

[Edited at 2016-10-19 20:03 GMT]


 

CafeTran Training
Netherlands
Local time: 18:12
Clarification Oct 20, 2016

Stacie Hiscock wrote:

I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Stacie, and I am the Translations Manager at my company. I am investigating the benefits of investing in our own CAT tool.


Hi, I'm trying to understand what you mean by 'investing'. Is your company planning to develop its own CAT tool or are you 'merely' planning to buy an existing solution?

Also: Is your company completely Windows-based or are you working in a hybrid environment, also including Linux and Mac?


 


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