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Benefits of working within a team?
Thread poster: Henry Dotterer

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 04:51
SITE FOUNDER
Oct 30, 2003

Looking for feedback...

A thread posted earlier today featured an article arguing that having too many people in the translation process is not a good idea. That article criticized a (hypothetical?) process involving a series of steps, with translator, checker, editor, etc.

I am interested in getting feedback on a different form of collaboration. I would like to hear from people who have experience working in this type of scenario: a group of translators who already know each other divide a document up into parts and work in parallel, communicating as they go. They collaborate on terms, content, maybe even swapping TMs and glossaries.

How does this form of collaboration work out? Do you prefer to work like this or alone? What are the benefits and drawbacks?

Do you have tips for others on forming teams and working together successfully?

For those who may be new to the site, I will state our bias: we at ProZ.com believe in collaboration... that is what this site is based on! So we have always supported and encouraged collaboration, and will continue to do so. Hearing your positive and negative experiences will help us to better deliver the message of collaboration to our members.

Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences.


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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:51
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
My opinion Oct 30, 2003

Dear Henry,
A very interesting discussion. I have been in this scenario a few times and I liked it. What I like the most about it, is that you can keep consistency for the most important terminology. On the other hand, to reach an agreement, often, was not that easy. At times, we have had some very heated discussions, especially by people who put themselves first and not the quality of the translation.
We all knew each-other, and we were very familiar with the subject, and we were also able to build a glossary upon those agreements. IMHO, working in a team is excellent if you are able to get along with others and if you have an open mind about other people's suggestions, and when you do not take things personally. It is also excellent if your main goal is the quality of the translation and not your own ego.

If you do not have these qualities, translating in a team might be a nightmare. But if you do, you can make friends for life and deliver a wonderful translation.

Monika
Back to work,
[alone this time]

Henry wrote:

Looking for feedback...

A thread posted earlier today featured an article arguing that having too many people in the translation process is not a good idea. That article criticized a (hypothetical?) process involving a series of steps, with translator, checker, editor, etc.

I am interested in getting feedback on a different form of collaboration. I would like to hear from people who have experience working in this type of scenario: a group of translators who already know each other divide a document up into parts and work in parallel, communicating as they go. They collaborate on terms, content, maybe even swapping TMs and glossaries.

How does this form of collaboration work out? Do you prefer to work like this or alone? What are the benefits and drawbacks?

Do you have tips for others on forming teams and working together successfully?

For those who may be new to the site, I will state our bias: we at ProZ.com believe in collaboration... that is what this site is based on! So we have always supported and encouraged collaboration, and will continue to do so. Hearing your positive and negative experiences will help us to better deliver the message of collaboration to our members.

Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences.



[Edited at 2003-10-30 22:29]


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Vladimir Shapovalov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:51
Member (2003)
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
I love it! Oct 31, 2003

Hi Henry,

I almost never work alone. Long time ago I relialized that delivering an independently proofread translation (e.g. by a teammate) is essential to have an edge over the competition. I think it's always better to be able to count on having an independent opinion of another professional before delivering a project and use the chance to materialize his/her knowledge, skills and experience into that extra quality which will keep the customer happy and confident in our abilities. More brain power - better the results.

Of course, I discuss terminology issues with my proofreader quite often. Sometimes we argue over a term, but each of us is smart enough to concede if the other proposes a better translation. In some cases we consult with third parties (including through KudoZ)in order to decide whose suggestion is better. We do this not because we want to prove something to each other but because we want to make a better end product.

In the beginning of 2003 I started to apply a new strategy. For some of my customers (new clients who told me right away that they are going to be sending us work in a particular field on a regular basis) we built project teams of 3-5 people (customer-specific teams) each having his/her own tasks related to the project. Sure, all this means that I was earning far less than if I was to do each job alone. We also built a team of proofreaders (each being a native speaker of a different language), thus we were able to offer our services in 7 or 8 language pairs instead of one or two. Here is the catch - I was earning less per job, but still more in total because the volume of projects outsourced to us grew significantly. Customers are happy, my teammates are happy and I am happy. What else should I ask for?




[Edited at 2003-10-31 00:24]


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:21
English to Tamil
+ ...
I was a part of such a team Oct 31, 2003

It was way back in 1994. I was living in New Delhi at that time. A local agency got a big assignment to translate the two volumes of a manual on fats from French into English. The agency that took up the assignment went about the job in a methodical manner. In the first line were translators like me, who did the original translation. These translations were typed by a battery of typists and then proofread by a second string of translators, who went through the translations with a finetoothed comb. Then it was the turn of the English monolingual people, who read them and checked for the English readability. It was a hectic time. We were paid alright but the agency did not have much to earn as the French client reneged on the final payment. The agency had to be satisfied with the advance payment and some part payments. These covered just the payments to the translators, proofreaders and editors . The agency lost heavily in this as there was no profit for it and then there were many lost opportunities in terms of the refused works offered by other clients. May be others have had better experiences.
Regards,
N.Raghavan


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:51
English to German
+ ...
My business model is built on teams Oct 31, 2003

Hi Henry and all,
Without teamwork, my business would not exist the way it does. In my view, networking can be an alternative to chasing agency-intermediated jobs (note that although I outsource jobs to a select group of freelancers, I do not consider my business to be an agency).

What it takes, however, is efficient project management: simply working alongside and exchanging, say, info on terminology will not work well for larger projects, IMO.

Best regards, Ralf


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Ruchira Shukla
India
Local time: 15:21
English to Japanese
+ ...
working in a team is the best way to work! Oct 31, 2003

I guess working in a team is the best way to work!
I work in a software/GIS firm and am the only person knowing Japanese there.. It has its advantages but the biggest drawback is that there is no one to offer suggestions or to proofreadccSometimes I really miss having someone I can discuss language issues with .... I rely a lot on technical dictionaries and read a lot of technical docs (and luckily have very supportive Japanese clients!) but I would just love to have another Japanese knowing person around c. May be thatfs why I am such a regular at proz !!!
Regards
Ruchira


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Joeri Van Liefferinge  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 10:51
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
It works Oct 31, 2003

I apply this system for a number of clients for whom I do large projects. The group is limited to a maximum of three translators. They edit my translations and I edit theirs, which is good for consistency.

After the first time we worked like this, I got this reaction from my client (they also have in-house translators): "You seem to manage to turn round work much faster than our much larger teams in-house […] and still maintain the quality and consistency." I think that proves it works...


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:51
Flemish to English
+ ...
People Service Profit Oct 31, 2003

A translation is the transposition of a text into another language. The subject can be anything.
I am not a doctor,vet, pharmacist, engineer, but I know people who are.
If you highlight the terms you do not understand and sent them to those people they can write the terms above the text, because the particualar terminology is a part of their daily job.
The translator or somebody else translates the text and it is sent back to the same person for revision. A linguist makes the final linguistic check.
Mother-tongue only: Not if you work together with people whose mother-tongue is the target-language.
Some 10 years ago, I taught Dutch to a Chinese girl, who was educated in French.
We have been friends for 10 years.
She continued her studies in France and has become a commercial engineer. She is fluent in both French and Chinese. So, why shouldn't I sent a business translation into Chinese to her? It has two advantages: her mother-tongue is Chinese and she lives in another time-zone.
Of course, working together with others becomes difficult when you have to translate for peanuts. If you pay the people a good rate they will deliver an excellent service and you make a profit.
At a rate of 0.04-0.06 euro or dollarcents, this is not possible.


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Zhoudan  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:51
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Rate is the question Oct 31, 2003

Williamson wrote:

At a rate of 0.04-0.06 euro or dollarcents, this is not possible.


An agency asked me twice if it is possible for me to organize a team of 3-4 freelancers to deliver more work but of the same good quality. I politely told them I cannot if the rate is the same, as I won't be earning as much as I do the work alone, and other translators won't be happy for being underpaid. I'm not opposing the idea of collaboration, but it is impossible if the job is given from an agency. To make it work, you have to get the rate that a direct client will pay. That's why I would rather decline jobs from agencies than passing them to other translators when I have more than I can handle.


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 10:51
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Compatibility, quality and cost present problems Oct 31, 2003

Dear Henry,

Ideally quality could be higher thanks to proofreading and the mechanism "four eyes
see more than two" and the use of each other's specialties.

BUT: I see major problems with team building:

1. You have to know your partners very well in order
to be sure that what you get is what you want to deliver.
2. The problem with style. If you want to deliver a good
product, you cannot have too different writing styles in
one document. Style also generates problems with consistency.
In the extreme you'll almost have to retranslate.
2. You have to take on administrative tasks which might not
be what you're dreaming of if you're a language buff.
3. You need to have a customer, who is ready to pay the extra
cost involved. This is rarely the case with agencies.

I have done some jobs for American agencies where they employ
a team of translator-editor-proofreader and those experiences
have been a positive but that then it not the type of team
you're asking about.

BR

Mats J C Wiman
Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe
http://www.MatsWiman.com
http://www.Deutsch-Schwedisch.com
http://www.proz.com/Pro/1749
(Proz.com moderator (deu>swe))
Träsk 201
SE-872 97 Skog
Schweden/Sweden/Suède/Suecia
Tel:+46-612-54112 Fax:+46-612-54181 Mobile:+46-70-5769797


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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:51
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Working in a team can be very interesting Oct 31, 2003

Hello,

I quite agree with you all, specially with Monika and Mats. I have worked with teams before and still do sometimes for larger projects and think this only works if we are able to get a team of similar translators, i.e. people that have identical style and identical experience in the field we are translating.

Mind that the teams I have worked with are built by the outsourcer and not choosen by the translators involved, but we know each other from previous projects and have built our own common style from that experience, so that is easy now.

Also, this team work only works if translators involved are only interested in getting the best final text possible and there are no other interests of showing up.

Working in a team is certainly a very good experience and it will improve one's knowledge too. I always accept this challenge because I find it really useful to improve my own abilities in translation and communication.

Best regards,
Mónica Machado (MIL)

English into European Portuguese Translator
Member of APT and IOL & Associate Member of ITI
Portugal
E-mail: mfcmachado@hotmail.com
http://monicamachado.planetaclix.pt


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Zhoudan  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:51
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Cannot agree more Oct 31, 2003

Mats Wiman wrote:
1. You have to know your partners very well in order
to be sure that what you get is what you want to deliver.
2. The problem with style. If you want to deliver a good
product, you cannot have too different writing styles in
one document. Style also generates problems with consistency.
In the extreme you'll almost have to retranslate.
2. You have to take on administrative tasks which might not
be what you're dreaming of if you're a language buff.


Yes, besides the rate problem, these are also my concerns.


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 06:51
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
I’m a Team-Girl Oct 31, 2003

I came to that with no previous idea.
I belong to several teams, and each one works differently, depending on the views of the leader.
I came to most of them through KudoZ, first “meetings”. Then some linguistic discussions. And two days ago it was the first Birthday of one of our tems. One year ago some of us had too much work and some had too much time to spend in KudoZ, that was the main reason to look for partners, to be able not to refuse clients.
It worked, at the beginning as tests of course, with a little bit of reluctancy, but after the first proofreading, the first experiences...

I agree on the fact that the main interest must be getting the best final result, but there has never been a problem about that in my teams. We don’t have ego problems neither. We do have discussions about European and American Spanish, above all when the client asks for a neutral Spanish.

When talking about this we’re also talking about different size of projects and teams.
The team with which I have had more work is the smallest one. Not all the translators have a CAT tool, but the projects are small too, so one of us manages the terminology.

In the larger team, that handles very large projects, we work more like an agency, with editors, a manager...

It changes a lot from being alone. We can look for new jobs with no fear for the size of the project, we don’t feel alone in case of needing a hand.
Confidence and knowing each other come with time. By the way, my best associates are people that I’ve never met in person.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:51
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
An "organic growth" in teamwork has proven the best Oct 31, 2003

in my experience. Whether the team was put together by the outsourcer or by the translators, having it grow out of a real need that determines its organization has given me the best results.

Sometimes, the outsourcer is equipped to deal with this question. At other times, I (we) have been asked to find teammates who could take on the job with a minimum of friction. Then, each translator draws upon his experience with other colleagues to spot the ones who specialize in such-and-such a topic, and there is less room for error.

Forming a team for the sake of simply having one is not too good a strategy, though. But a team of business writers, or legal translators working together on large jobs, certainly makes sense.

Consolidated teams offering turnkey services is a much more complicated affair, but can definitely be a good asset.


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