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How do you manage a big project?
Thread poster: Silvia Barra

Silvia Barra  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:13
English to Italian
+ ...
Apr 26, 2009

Finally I'm facing with my first large project, but I'm a little bit anxious on how to manage it. During this job I'll surely be asked for other projects but I probably will not be able to perform them, and at the same time I'd like not to lose my customers. How can I do?
And I'm also anxious so as not to get lost in the project (I fear wasting my time or not properly using it, and missing the deadline).
And how can I manage my other obligations?
Your experiences and suggestions are welcome!
Thank you
Silvia


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 01:13
English to Hungarian
+ ...
simple Apr 26, 2009

Silvia Barra wrote:

Finally I'm facing with my first large project, but I'm a little bit anxious on how to manage it. During this job I'll surely be asked for other projects but I probably will not be able to perform them, and at the same time I'd like not to lose my customers. How can I do?
And I'm also anxious so as not to get lost in the project (I fear wasting my time or not properly using it, and missing the deadline).
And how can I manage my other obligations?
Your experiences and suggestions are welcome!
Thank you
Silvia

I haven't done anything over 60,000 words so I'm not an authority on this, but there really isn't too much to it. Try and keep an eye on the timer. Take note of how much you've managed to get done in how much time to be able to calculate if you're on the right track, leaving some extra time at the end to be safe. Actually, try and get ahead of schedule early so that you have some extra time for any eventualities - even other jobs. If you still have to reject jobs, which you probably will, tell the client that you are unfortunately too busy on another job now but will be available from X, and you may be able to take of smaller assignments in the meantime. Offer to recommend a reliable colleague they could use instead of you if you know one.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:13
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Plan your schedule carefully Apr 26, 2009

Set the delivery schedule so that if you work steadily, only about half your capacity is blocked by the large project. The other half can be used to take care of routine business from other clients. That's more or less the way I deal with it.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:13
English to Spanish
+ ...
Plan carefully Apr 27, 2009

I do as Kevin suggests. I also find myself working double, up to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week just in case, and "just in case" has, does, and is happening.

So don't think you can work a normal schedule. Get ready to sweat.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:13
English to French
+ ...
Use to-do list software Apr 27, 2009

I find that using to-do list software makes managing projects a bit easier. It definitely helps you keep on top of things, especially when you have a large project but you are also working on smaller jobs in parallel.

A few good (free) ones I find useful:

- Accomplice - www.accomplice.com
- ToDoList - www.abstractspoon.com

Both of these let you subdivide a task into secondary tasks, tertiary tasks, etc., indefinitely. I recommend you do that. If you use any kind of quality assurance, then each document will undergo several quality assurance steps, and it is good to monitor each of these separately.

You can also use mind mapping for project management. One good free mind mapping software I like is FreeMind, which can be downloaded at http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page


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Lutz Molderings  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:13
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
agree with Henry Apr 27, 2009


So don't think you can work a normal schedule. Get ready to sweat.


+1


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:13
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Chop up the document into day-size portions Apr 27, 2009

Dear Silvia,

First you have to know how many words you can do per day. Then, you chop up the document into day-size portions, and every day when you wake up you know you have to do the next one of those portions. Of course, you have to do your sums before you accept the job, to make sure that you are not landed with more than you can do each day.

As Kevin says, it is a good rule of thumb that a large project should never take up more than half your available time. In practice, it does not work like that, because people always want translations a bit quicker. However, even if you make sure that it only takes up three-quarters of each day, you can at least fit in small jobs for your regular customers. It is good etiquette to be able to do at least that.

By the way, this morning's experience may as well be related here too. When you glue the big document back together at the end, do check the joins carefully. Up to now I had believed that working with Trados makes it impossible to miss out a sentence. That is, until this morning. The (high quality) agency I worked for on this occasion carried out its quality assurance procedures and determined that, when pasting the document together again, I had left out a sentence at one of the joins. I will check the joins most carefully in future.

Astrid


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 01:13
French to Dutch
+ ...
Big is beautiful Apr 27, 2009

As said above, divide the translation into batches. Give them numbers if necessary and plan your work carefully. Create folders on your harddisk and separate the parts to be done, parts which are in progress and the parts translated. Do your back-ups regularly on an external harddisk, once a day for the part which is in progress. Prepare a second, fully equipped computer (it saved my life once). Don't forget the ergonomic part of the work: have a good armchair and keyboard, a large screen.

Subcontract anything which isn't translation-related: have someone prepare your meals, bring your children to your mother, let a bookkeeper do the accounting part, have a student take your mail to the post office.


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Eleni Makantani
Greece
Local time: 02:13
Member
English to Greek
+ ...
Simple and careful planning Apr 27, 2009

What I do is the following:
- How much time do I have (in days) to complete the project?
- I always subtract 1-3 days in the end for proofreading (depending on the size of the project)
- How many words/ pages long is the project?
- I divide the project size with the number of the days available and I get my daily output.

Depending on that daily output, I get to understand if the time available is enough for me to complete the project and I might ask the client to give me some extra time or I might propose an alternative deadline. I also get to understand if I can take on other projects or not. Another thing is that I tend to stick to my schedule, no matter how loose it appears to be, because I can never know what might come up by the end of the project.

So, it all depends on how difficult the project is, on what your daily output can be and on how many hours a day you can work.

Good luck!


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:13
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Big achievements, small achievements Apr 27, 2009

I agree with Henry and the rest about planning carefully. Just an additional piece of advice as it is very useful to me sometimes:

If you know that you have to do, let's say, 5,000 words a day, set yourself a start time, a finish time in the day, and divide the words between the hours, also reserving time for lunch a 10-minute pause every hour or other breaks you have to do for other reasons. If you know that your plan is to do 500 words an hour, forget the projecs as a whole and set yourself to do those 500 words. Rest your 10 minutes. Then set yourself the goal of making the 500 words of the next hour. At the end of the day your 5,000 words will be done, and you are ready for the next day.

Achieving these finite hourly and daily goals might help you keep going until the very end of the project and make the deadline.


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Gillian Scheibelein  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:13
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Do an analysis - how many repetitions are there? Apr 27, 2009

Hi Silvia,

Another important factor to take into account is the effective size of your project. My first approach is to do a Trados or Transit analysis to see how much I am actually dealing with. Some projects have a large number of repetitions, which thus reduces the amount you have to translate. Your profile does not state whether you use a CAT tool, if you don't have one you are welcome to send the files to me and I'll analyse them for you.

If there are lots of files, make an Excel table so that you can track your progress (e.g. draft translation / checked translation / proofread / spelling checked / final check).

Good luck!
Gillian

[Edited at 2009-04-27 12:32 GMT]


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Helen Matthews  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:13
Member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
Highlighting my 'target' helps me stay focussed Apr 27, 2009

Like others have said - when working on big projects, I too divide it up into sections I can deal with in a day (leaving myself free to cope with regular clients too).

Might sound silly, but if it's one long document, one of the easiest ways I've found of doing this is simply highlighting the paragraph I want to reach by the end of that day green, for example... this means that I can simply switch to preview and scroll through a few pages to see that the end is in sight!! (helps me stay focussed at least!).

If, on the other hand, it's several short documents, then I'd say Gillian's right - make sure you scan for repetitions first... that way I usually start with the files that have the greatest proportion of text in the TM first, in order to get a feel for vocab, style etc., before tackling the larger ones.

Hope this helps! Good luck, and... enjoy!!

Helen


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Silvia Barra  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:13
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Great suggestions Apr 27, 2009

I'd like to thank you all for your great and precious suggestions.
Thank you Gillian, I use CAT tool and moreover my customer gave me the files analysis, but I thank you very much for your kind availability
Fortunately this project is divided into small files, so it's easier to divide the daily tasks (as it is what I'll do).
Thank you also Kevin and Tomàs for highlighting the possibility of doing other jobs in the meanwhile and and the fact that other smaller requirements (not necessarily related to translation) have to be done.
Finally, I thank you Viktoria for the "to-do" softwares: I was looking for something like that in order to "update" my excel-based method but never found something interesting. I had a look on these websites that seem promising.
Once again your experience and suggestions are precious and very much appreciated.
Thank you again and have a nice day
Silvia


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:13
Spanish to English
+ ...
Big files first Apr 27, 2009

Silvia Barra wrote:


Fortunately this project is divided into small files, so it's easier to divide the daily tasks (as it is what I'll do).

Silvia


It may seem obvious, but do the big files first, that way, if something else does come along, you can swap a big file for a small file and still keep the job underway.

I do big editing jobs. I get started as soon as possible (even though I usually have good deadlines), I count words and pages, and set a target per day, leaving quite a big margin for contingencies. I also sometimes set aside a part of the day for these jobs (say the first 3 hours each day), and leave the rest of the day free for other jobs and tasks.


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 01:13
English to German
+ ...
develop a keyword glossary Apr 28, 2009

Hi! Read the document carefully, there is Kudoz that can be helpful, develop a key terminology glossary, contact translators in this domain expertise and deliver the glossary first, if they agree on the glossary terms fine, slice the text in equal parts and employ a proof-reader and editor, let them cross check the common glossary supplied both to the translators and the proof-reader, mainly seek agreement with your customer about the glossary, this can be sometimes cumbersome . That is how it is done. I hope that helps. BR Brandis

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