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Poll: If you receive a large translation project that you can't handle on your own, you...
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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May 11, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "If you receive a large translation project that you can't handle on your own, you...".

This poll was originally submitted by Margareth Santos. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other May 11, 2016

Usually, if I want to do the translation, I'll try to recruit trusted colleague/s, but I don't really like working with more than one or two at the same time, because too much coordination becomes what I consider 2 or 3 jobs in one (PM + translator+post editor).
Otherwise, I'll try to negotiate a doable deadline and do it on my own, but it's not always possible.

PS: Am not keen on large orders over 10K at the best of times, as I usually have a few things going on simultaneously and a very big project would likely gobble up precious time needed for other clients.

[Edited at 2016-05-11 08:24 GMT]


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 03:21
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other May 11, 2016

If I’m really interested in doing the translation, I will, first of all, try to negotiate a new delivery date and do it on my own. If the deadline is not extended, I’ll propose splitting the project with the two trusted colleagues I have worked in the past on similar projects. Otherwise, I prefer to reject the job.

P.S. I will never start to collaborate with a translator found online on a big project. Better safe than sorry!


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:21
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Same as Teresa May 11, 2016

I will try first to negotiate a deadline. If that's not possible, I will offer to work with a trusted colleague.

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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:21
Member (2006)
German to English
Other May 11, 2016

In the mean time, other than if it is one of my regular customers, I would ask if the deadline could be extended and do it alone or just turn it down.
I have managed to burn my fingers a couple of times in the past and have found that it is not worth the hassel.


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Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 04:21
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
Other May 11, 2016

If everything else is right (subject matter, rate, payment term) I will ask for a reasonable deadline, where I am still able to cater to my regular clients at the same time.

If that's not possible I'll turn down the job.

[Edited at 2016-05-11 09:20 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 04:21
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Other May 11, 2016

It depends. Normally, when I have taken on big jobs, I have negotiated the deadline. Other jobs come through agencies, who have done what they can, and then they divide the job up.

I agreed once with a colleague that we would share a job... but when he saw the text, I ended up translating the lot. He proofread it and negotiated deadlines, chapter by chapter, especially when the source text did not arrive until the day before the deadline! It was an academic book, and some of the chapters were being used as lectures, so part-deadlines were not always negotiable. We insisted on being allowed to polish and adjust afterwards, so that the final version hung together when it appeared in book form.

I find big jobs stressful - I tend to turn them down if I can't negotiate a good deadline. Working with colleagues does not always save time, but the arrangement with proofreading worked very well. It also depends on the colleague - you have to be able to work as a team and supplement each other's roles, and I am not easy to work with!

Some clients are very reasonable, when we discuss terms, and I enjoy delivering the final package!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:21
English to Portuguese
+ ...
WHY can't I handle it? - Several possibilities May 11, 2016

a) I am busy; or turnaround required is too short - I tell them what I CAN do. If that's not enough, I'll suggest them a few colleagues I know that could handle it, and wish them good luck.

b) 'Wrong' language - They need translation from/into a language I don't work. I refer to a colleague that works in the required pair, and wish them good luck.

c) 'Wrong' subject area - It's technical material in a subject that I have declared off-limits for me. I refer them to a colleague specialized in that area whose competence I know, and wish them good luck.

d) Too large volume - I refer them to one of the translation agencies I usually work for, or to a colleague who is used to setting up translator teams; in the latter case I'm often in that team.

e) Cumbersome logistics - Client needs a certified/sworn translation, but both they and the document are far away. I refer them to a colleague licensed for the intended purpose closer to where they and the document are.

The list doesn't end here, of course.

I assume that if the client contacted me with a job, they are seeking a solution. If I can provide it, I'll do my best in doing it. If I can't, I'll try my best to point them to what I think is the right direction.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why wouldn't I? May 11, 2016

Earlier in my career I was offered a large project (a video technology patent) by a Virginia-based translation company that was sold to a headhunting firm years later. I was more inclined to search for colleagues who would be competent and trustworthy.

So I found three colleagues as described. Competent, yes? Trustworthy? Yes, but only because I choose to trust first. I am still friends with most of them more than 15 years after this project.

However, I no longer receive requests to handle large projects, or projects that are too large for me to handle. I daresay that most of those projects have gone the way of the dodo or are regularly snatched by multilanguage service companies such as 1 Stop, TransPerfect, Parrot, Verbum and a host of similar ones across the globe.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Hmm May 11, 2016

Where was the option for take it anyway and do a sh*t job? Isn't that the default?

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Katrin Bosse  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:21
Member (2009)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Other = all of the above May 11, 2016

As others have said, depending on the job, I will test all available options and decide per case.

There is no standard solution.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:21
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
False alternatives May 11, 2016

My experience has typically been that agencies looking to place large jobs do not insist that a translator take the entire job, but instead ask, "How much of this job involving X words can you take for a deadline of Y?"

I then respond in one of the following ways:
1.) I provide a quote for the entire job if I know can complete it within the given timeframe.
2.) I provide a quote for the number of words I can comfortably complete within the given timeframe.


[Edited at 2016-05-11 14:57 GMT]


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Hege Jakobsen Lepri  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:21
Member (2002)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Other May 11, 2016

I'm generally quite open with my clients about how much I have on my plate, what I can do or can't with competence, and when I could fit in a new, large project. Strangely enough that seems to work, they accept a no when I know I'm no good in the field in question - and generally try to accommodate so that I can fit the project in.
My experience with sharing projects with other translators has generally been that I'll end up doing all the terminological nitpicking at the end, so it's generally not worth it.


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 21:21
German to English
+ ...
problem with the question May 11, 2016

"that you can't handle on your own" - but then one of the choices is to "renegotiate" the deadline (meaning the translator can handle it on her own). If I cannot handle a project, then I decline doing the project. Meanwhile, when a translation request comes in, my first task as translator is to determine what my turnaround time is, along with my fee, and whether I have the expertise. Therefore the "not being able to handle" because of the volume / turnaround doesn't come up. Unfortunately we often get contacted by clients, usually agencies, who have promised a turnaround time to their end client before actually consulting with the professional. That is an error on their part.

Sometimes an end client has a true emergency and then you do have to consider this problem. In that case I would either pull in a trusted colleague and split the work (hasn't happened yet) or decline if I cannot safely meet the deadline. In fact, one client just presented that situation: she has been given a deadline by government officials to file an application by a given date and it must be filed by that date.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
They can't handle the truth :) May 11, 2016

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

"that you can't handle on your own" - but then one of the choices is to "renegotiate" the deadline (meaning the translator can handle it on her own). If I cannot handle a project, then I decline doing the project. Meanwhile, when a translation request comes in, my first task as translator is to determine what my turnaround time is, along with my fee, and whether I have the expertise. Therefore the "not being able to handle" because of the volume / turnaround doesn't come up. Unfortunately we often get contacted by clients, usually agencies, who have promised a turnaround time to their end client before actually consulting with the professional. That is an error on their part.


Well put, Maxi.

We often hear complaints about translators making this or that mistake or bilingual arrivistes playing translator with a client, but we don't often see enlightening criticism of some less-than-transparent practices among translation companies, big and small. One of them is to commit to a deadline, a file format or a project without first consulting a professional. Then they try to force the professional translator into accepting unacceptable working and/or contractual conditions. These parties, which I like to call the unethical ones, should be fully exposed with facts and publicly shamed out of the market, if feasible.


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