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Poll: CAT tools have produced a difference in your productivity, but have they increased your revenues?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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May 30, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "CAT tools have produced a difference in your productivity, but have they increased your revenues?".

This poll was originally submitted by Isabelle Brucher. View the poll results »



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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:52
Member
German to English
+ ...
Undoubtedly May 30, 2012

The productivity and revenue benefits achieved through my own personal use of CAT tools far outweigh any disadvantages incurred as a result of staggered pricing. Plus there are all sorts of jobs I simply wouldn't have been given without CAT tools.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not sure May 30, 2012

Using CAT has changed the way I work, and I can work faster than I did years ago, but you also get better at things the longer you do them so I'm not really sure. Your client base should also build up over the years (if you're doing things properly), presumably with revenue in tow.

It's a bit swings and roundabouts - for example, I started using speech recognition about 6 months ago; less typing has taken some of the strain off my back and wrists, and I can go faster with certain text types that way, but the downside is that I need to check/revise my drafts more often/thoroughly, as when I type I tend to do so slowly and with few or zero mistakes, while Dragon mishears my vowels and sibilants, so "supply" may come up as "apply"....

Nor am I 100% convinced that more = better.


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Leon Ivanihin  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:52
Member (2011)
English to Russian
Yes, sure May 30, 2012

Moreover, some of my projects would be impossible to do without CAT-tools at all. At least in terms of meeting the deadline. I mean the technical projects here.

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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 00:52
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Definitely May 30, 2012

I translate large technical manuals/documents and sometimes complete sets of them.
The largest to date was about 2,500 pages long and it took over 8 months to complete. As you would imagine, this would have been a total nightmare without Trados.

My revenues have improved since this CAT tool allows me to pack in more work from more customers in the same amount of time. And having more work from a greater number of customers, I am less exposed to risk should one of them go belly-up.
CAT tools also help me to manage terminology better so that I can switch between different projects from different customers midstream.

At the same token, however, I DO have misgivings that as translators we are required to learn more and more software and hardware skills not exactly related to translation per se, which is increasingly becoming a burden.

Food for thought. Hmmm


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Alison Sabedoria  Identity Verified
France
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Yes, as a door into a different market May 30, 2012

I am basically an arts specialist with a literary bent - the kind of texts where CAT is usually of very little use. As the crisis began to bite, this sector was hit pretty hard, especially for someone like me, trying to elbow her way into the profession at over 50!

So, what to do? I made a strategic shift about a year ago. I transferred my writing skills into the marketing field and took on more catalogue-style texts. Here, CAT really comes into its own. It is a win-win situation: more well-paid work around than in the arts, plus the CAT-assisted productivity, at a price that is less than a good agency would charge.

Yes, I can earn a lot more like this, but - above all - I now have more choice and flexibility in what other work I take on.

It is my leverage tool, enabling me to offer a premium service to direct clients at an affordable price. It is not (and I will never allow it to be) a rod for outsourcers to beat me with. Just like a watch allows me to know what time it is, but doesn't tell me when to do things!

Word count can only ever be a part of my pricing structure, so anyone who wants to waste my time playing the "percentage-match" game can go and roll their hair-splitting marbles elsewhere...

Alison
(Wordeffect is a "personal brand"; see recent thread on pseudonyms)



[Edited at 2012-05-30 09:17 GMT]


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MikeTrans
Germany
Local time: 17:52
Member (2005)
Italian to German
+ ...
Increased Revenue May 30, 2012

With the usage of CAT tools for technical textes, I can accept translation projects with narrow deadlines, and sometimes, lower my prices depending on the Quality Assurance system of my clients.
Also, if my CAT tool has an intelligent QA system, then I can handle projects which I otherwise would refuse, again because I wouldn't meet the deadlines.

Faster and more accurate translations means: an increase in Revenue, but I must admit it's hard to exactly quantify.

Greets,
Mike


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Terry Richards
France
Local time: 17:52
French to English
+ ...
Other May 30, 2012

I have never worked without CAT tools other than the occasional short PDF.

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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:52
Member (2006)
German to English
Yep May 30, 2012

with the others

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Haluk Levent Aka
Local time: 18:52
Japanese to Turkish
+ ...
Definitely Not... May 30, 2012

IMHO, CAT tools are the worst thing that happened to us -EVER... An accomplished computer user can work around majority of redundancies / repetitions etc. without the need for CAT Tools anyway. I can type very quickly, I have custom macros (even stand alone programs I coded) to speed my processes up, and I use mouse hardly ever. And I actually find certain "industry leader" CAT tool to be very time consuming because I often have to use mouse with it (many keyboard shortcuts don't work on my MacBook and even on many PC laptops)... So, if you are a below average computer "user", only in that case maybe... maybe... they save you some time. But not for me.

These "tools" are just excuse for agencies -this way they can suck more blood in less time. It increases their productivity (in sucking blood) and not mine... - many agencies don't pay for reps or 100% matches -as if they don't take time at all to process, and have some weird perception about fuzzy match costing (as if it would take 30% of time to correct a 70% fuzzy match etc.)... Actual time spent for correcting a 70% is not less than time needed to translate that sentence from scratch - I guarantee you.

In addition, there are many language specific problems involved with working En - Tr using a CAT Tool (such as vowel harmony etc)... Plus, (at least my CAT Tool, industry leader one) masses numbers and placeables all the time (percentage signs, comas, decimal places get massed up all the time). It never seems to get them right; and I have to touch up later anyway.

Another thing I don't understand: it is I who invest in CAT tool; how come it is the agency who gets all the margin??? I don't get it. I will never get it.

Quite Handsome Money Paid For CAT Tool + Learning Curve + Time Lost with Crashes / FUBAR'ed Documents + Time Needed to Customize / Fine Tune CAT Tool + Mouse Factor actually outweights the "alleged" benefits of CAT tools.

Sorry for putting it so black and white.



[Edited at 2012-05-30 12:41 GMT]


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DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:52
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not that simple .... May 30, 2012

On the one hand, I think yes, substantially.
Specifically using a CAT tool has definitely changed the way I work with some texts.
A large proportion of my work is technical, with those texts I find that use of CAT tool allows effortless precision and consistency and frees up time and offers tools for QA, which means quality = satisfied customers = increased revenue.

Another significant proportion of my work is medical, from Dutch source much is typed, from Greek source practically everything is hand-written. Here I rarely use CAT tools, but I have templates for various documents, this helps my productivity there.

On the other hand, it is impossible to say how things would be without it - without a CAT tool I would have specialised differently, would I still have obtained equal but different benefits? More revenue? Less revenue?


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
How can they possibly? May 30, 2012

Interesting assumption that CAT increases productivity. Not when your texts include no matches!

And when you do have matches, agencies don't pay you for them, so where's the extra revenue coming from?

The only way I can see CAT increasing your revenue is if you rip off your direct clients...

[Edited at 2012-05-30 13:48 GMT]


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Ricardo Falconi  Identity Verified
Ecuador
Local time: 10:52
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
In my case, sure they have May 30, 2012

The only CAT tool I use is Trados, I began to use Trados in 2006, I had to learn how to use it in the run, I had received a huge project proposal from an Agency with a deadline of 3 weeks, but they demanded the use of Trados, I didn't want to loose the chance of taking the project so I asked about the learning of Trados in some online forums, some translators told me that it only took them 3 or 4 hours to learn all the basics to get started, I thought they were exagerating, so I got a contact from a guy who trained translators on the use of Trados, I took 3 hours of training with him, and that was it, this was enough to go ahead with the project. I am not saying CAT tools are the "panacea" for increasing productivity, there are a few factors that help: a fast and virus-free computer, skills with handling computer tools, self-organization, etc. but, at least for me, a full time freelance translator, the benefits I have gained using Trados have outweighted by far the cost for purchasing the Trados license. I would only want to give an advise for people who demonize the use of CAT Tools, please don't take it as an offense, it is only a personal opinion and moreover a friendly advise, "Fully learn to use them first and then you will see", I am sure more than 90% of the new learners will change their minds with regards to CAT Tools

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Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:52
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
Yes May 30, 2012

But I wasn't doing this job in the pre-CAT-tool era. I hear that prices have gone down since then, in part due to CAT.

Personally after doing it once I will never again offer discounts on fuzzy matches; it's never a good sign when an agency asks for them. A pretty abhorrent penny-pinching approach if you ask me. Sometimes it's done to save a few cents, which seems a bit pathetic. There should be a bit more solidarity among linguists!


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Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:52
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
Productivity May 30, 2012

Chris S wrote:

Interesting assumption that CAT increases productivity. Not when your texts include no matches!

And when you do have matches, agencies don't pay you for them, so where's the extra revenue coming from?

The only way I can see CAT increasing your revenue is if you rip off your direct clients...

[Edited at 2012-05-30 13:48 GMT]


CAT tools have various other time-saving (and therefore productivity-increasing) features, like automating your formatting, quick access to glossaries, the ability to paste from other sources without losing the desired formatting, the ability to see exactly where changes have been made in an amended source text, etc. So even without matches a massive amount of time can be saved. They also provide an additional layer of backup by storing everything you translate in a memory and allow you to translate lots of different file types without necessarily owning the programme normally associated with the file.

As for "agencies don't pay you for them", well that's simply not true. All my (many) agency clients pay me for matches.

[Edited at 2012-05-30 15:34 GMT]


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