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Poll: What do you do when you run out of time to complete a project?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 23:24
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Sep 9, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What do you do when you run out of time to complete a project?".

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:24
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
What kind of a question is this? Sep 9, 2014

There is no excuse for not delivering on time. A person who can't do that doesn't belong in the business. Translators should know their limitations and capabilities when they accept a job and be able to calculate how long the work will take.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 07:24
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Never delivered late Sep 9, 2014

In 30 years I have never delivered a translation late and I am known to deliver quite often ahead of time. I have found that this gives me an excellent argument when negotiating deadlines.

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Marek Buchtel  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 08:24
Member (2005)
English to Czech
+ ...
There are excuses Sep 9, 2014

Hi Muriel,

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

There is no excuse for not delivering on time. A person who can't do that doesn't belong in the business. Translators should know their limitations and capabilities when they accept a job and be able to calculate how long the work will take.



And what about illness, injuries, accidents, hardware or software failures, exceptional situations in the family or the society? Do you think these can never happen to a translator?

What if you're taken to a hospital or get severe flu, and there are two days to the deadline, and you know you won't be able to finish the job? Will you deliver what you have done so far, ask a friend to help, or ask for an extension? That's what this question is about, I think.

Marek


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Vera Schoen  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 08:24
Member (2008)
German to Swedish
+ ...
I'm sorry, but this upsets me Sep 9, 2014

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

There is no excuse for not delivering on time. A person who can't do that doesn't belong in the business. Translators should know their limitations and capabilities when they accept a job and be able to calculate how long the work will take.



I am known for delivering a head of time or on time, however I have delivered late on some occasions – after having notified the PM and receiving an OK.

Please tell me, Muriel, how I was to know, or take into account, that my healthy mother would pass away during a translation?
Things happen and we are not machines.

Kind regards
Vera


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Alma de Kok  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:24
Member (2006)
Polish to Dutch
+ ...
Having (had) such a situation myself (now) Sep 9, 2014

1,5 year ago my husband had an accident and passed away. I was left with 3 children, a farm with 800 cows and 11 employees.

Right now I am selling the farm and take only small assignments with flexible deadlines, my clients know my situation. And now? The milk factory wants to put the 'rates' for the milk down (sounds familiar?) and pressures me to agree. I actually don't agree and today they are threatening not to pick up the milk. 16000 litres. So I correspond with lawyers, colleagues etc. Translating in such a situation is bad, cannot concentrate. So yes, another few missed deadlines. I hate that, but there simply is no other way...





[Edited at 2014-09-09 09:38 GMT]


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:24
Member (2008)
English to Italian
It might happen Sep 9, 2014

Well it has happened to me twice and in the following cases.

1) The doctor who was following my father's cancer told us that the only chance was to talk to two different doctors in two different towns. It took me two days, I did it, but I had to ask for an extension of the deadline.
2) My father died and I had to take a plane (which was late) and I stayed with my family waiting for his funeral. I had to review my own translation, I asked for an extension, but in this case my client told me it was impossible. I stayed with all my family, and when I got at my mother's house I started checking my translation. I finished at 5 am, and I slept for 2 hours before going back to where my father was.

So as you see, sometimes it is not an excuse.

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

There is no excuse for not delivering on time. A person who can't do that doesn't belong in the business. Translators should know their limitations and capabilities when they accept a job and be able to calculate how long the work will take.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 08:24
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Tell the client and agree on a solution Sep 9, 2014

I do a lot of small jobs, sometimes with tight deadlines, which means there may only be a couple of hours to spare, or maybe no margin at all. I may get 500 words in my mail at 10 am - hello, Christine, can you get this translated by 12?

Of course I don't take on anything I know I can't deliver on time, but unexpected problems do arise. Even constant phone calls from other clients can throw you off a tight deadline - it happens. I mail the client and say sorry, can't get this to you by 12 as hoped, but it will be in your mail ASAP, certainly before 2 pm.

I do NOT carry on translating when I am ill or have taken medication for migraine, because I know the results will be substandard. I tell the client and we sort something out, depending on the situation. I have no children at home now, but I know how unpredictable and time consuming they can be!

Unexpected terminology problems or a file that refuses to open, tag soup in Trados... Clients deliver files late, or the wrong file... all sorts of things can happen. Things beyond even the most professional translator's control can make it impossible to meet a deadline.

I take a pride in delivering before the deadline whenever I can, certainly not after it, and almost always succeed.

Principles are important, but in the real, less-than-perfect world, there has to be a Plan B as well, and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

And you know what? Clients are human. Most of them understand if you swallow your pride and tell them honestly what the problem is. In many cases half an hour or half a day is no big deal to them, as long as they know the translation is on its way.


[Edited at 2014-09-09 13:23 GMT]


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Paula Hernández
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:24
English to Spanish
+ ...
I don't Sep 9, 2014

NEVER run out of time!

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Giovanna Alessandra Meloni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:24
Member (2012)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Other Sep 9, 2014

I agree with Christine, the best thing to do is tell the client and find a solution together.
If there is a hitch, or sometimes something more seriuos, I think it is not unprofessional to ask for an extension.

Of course, it is unpofessional accept a job I know I can't deliver on time. In this case, I agree with Muriel.


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Elizabeth Joy Pitt de Morales  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:24
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Sep 9, 2014

A couple of years ago, I fell down the stairs and broke my leg in two places late one night as I was going from my office upstairs to the living room on the ground floor. I heard the bone crack twice, but I am a stubborn kind of person, so I convinced myself that it was just a sprain.

I was halfway through the first part of a translation that had two parts. Not knowing what might happen to me when I went to the hospital emergency room, I returned to my office (by sitting down on the steps and hitching myself up them one by one for my "sprain"), I applied ice, elevated my leg and finished the last part of the first file, but I was in so much pain that I simply couldn't go on any more...I couldn't think clearly at all, I was sweating and felt dizzy and nauseated.

I went to the ER at 3 am and after seeing the x-ray they told me to expect to be there well into the following afternoon, so I called my client with my mobile at 10 am (when the company office opened) and explained the situation. She was able to find someone else to finish the project, which relieved me of all the stress I was feeling due to not making the deadline.

It turned out that one of the breaks was splintered and right next to an artery, which it could have sliced open, with all the consequences. The ER staff gave me high holy Hades for not having gone there immediately, and they were right to do so.

My client had no problem with finding someone else to finish the job, given the circumstances. She even told me that it was ridiculous for me to think that I had to finish the first file, and she told me that I should have gone to the ER at once.

Stuff happens. A profession is a profession, but a life is a life.

If nothing beyond your control has ever happened to you that has forced you to delay delivery, I congratulate you and hope that you continue to have such stellar good fortune.


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:24
Member (2006)
German to English
Other Sep 9, 2014

Hi Muriel,

What sort of a perfect world do you live in? It has happened to me a few times over the years for different reasons. In some cases due to my own mishaps, and sometimes due to my customer - it is life and as long as we communicate before it is too late, it is okay.


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Madeleine Chevassus  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:24
Member (2010)
English to French
blocking problem in the CAT tool Sep 9, 2014

this happened to me at least two times. And though I had a support contract with the tool provider, it took them 2 full days to find a solution...

Of course I lost the contract and it was not at all my fault. I got no compensation from the tool provider.

The result is that I bought another CAT tool with less bugs.

Too bad

NB: I warned my client but I couldn't know how long it would take.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:24
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Best Business Practice Sep 9, 2014

Giovanna Alessandra Meloni wrote:

I agree with Christine, the best thing to do is tell the client and find a solution together.
If there is a hitch, or sometimes something more seriuos, I think it is not unprofessional to ask for an extension.

Of course, it is unpofessional accept a job I know I can't deliver on time. In this case, I agree with Muriel.


I agree with you, ladies. There's nothing wrong with asking for an extension, especially when unforseeable circumstances suddenly occur. Informing the client of a possibly missed deadline is vital and needs to be done as soon as possible.

A while back I was asked to accept a job that I knew I couldn't finish and deliver in time - which I told the client immediately. We discussed the pros and cons and finally worked it out. I did get the job, having to use only a fraction of the extension granted due to having put in a night shift.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:24
English to Portuguese
+ ...
This has never happened to me SO FAR... Sep 9, 2014

... however I have back-ups for most things I do, and now and then I am their back-up.

So it's a matter of keeping the client informed on any unexpected incidents and offer solutions to mitigate their effects on the delivery, which includes - in case I am incapacitated - transferring the assignment to some colleague for whole reliability I'd be willing to vouch.

I haven't delivered one single translation project late so far in the last 40 years. This tends to praise my time management skills. If for any reason - including lacking availability - I shouldn't take an assignment, I refer the client to one or more colleagues I think would be most suitable to take it.


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