What are the least enjoyable tasks for translation agency project managers?
Thread poster: Carl Robinson

Carl Robinson
French to English
May 8, 2014

What are the least enjoyable tasks for translation agency project managers?

If you have worked as a project manager in a translation agency of any kind, I'd like to know what jobs do you least looked forward to on a Monday morning! What were the most annoying/difficult/tiresome items on your to do list? And what would make them go away?


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:14
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
it'd be quicker to name the most enjoyable! May 8, 2014

For me, definitely all the admin which bores me stiff.

Although dealing with complaints was never pleasant either, when people were not acting in good faith, whether it's the client who says "there were all sorts of mistakes" although you knew the translator had done a good job, then the list you request never materialises, or the translator who breezily answers "Oh I'm sure I didn't translate that term three different ways" when of course you had checked the translation before writing to him.

And the communications manager who rang up in tears while at a board meeting because everyone's laughing their heads off at the translation of their slogan (translated by the people who were re-working their visual identity, not us), demanding that I come up with another slogan on the spot...

So we came up with another slogan for them, but it was too long (the French had five words, our translation had six).

Next she started asking me to comment on other suggested slogans, from their man in Kenya, nine words... I just refused point blank.

I don't even want to recall the boss he was that mean

In short, dealing with clients, dealing with the boss and dealing with translators... is it hard to guess why I love being a translator?


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:14
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agency project managers reviews of their jobs May 9, 2014

http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/TransPerfect-Reviews-E32824.htm

http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Lionbridge-Reviews-E9427.htm

[updated to add]:
Example:
http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-TransPerfect-RVW3794080.htm

“Greed is Good at XXXXt”
Project Manager (Former Employee)

I worked at XXXX full-time for more than a year

Cons – All you will do, is trying to push translators to work for you at ridiculously low rates. Tactics used to get translators' cooperation are making promises of better paid jobs at some point in the future (just do this one for next to nothing, next time I will make it up to you), providing misleading information about the nature of the job ("piece of cake, should not take more than two hours" when you know this is a hell of a job with lots of tables and formatting), claiming the client "has got an issue with your translation" in order to cut payments while no negative feedback was received at all, and overcharging clients for services not performed (skip the proofreading, they won't notice - add formatting, they don't know what this is anyway, charge "project management", they won't protest).

XXXX senior management is fully aware of these shinigans, and have in fact raised the minimum mark up from 230 per cent to 270 per cent, forcing project managers to lie and cheat even more in order to meet these ridiculous demands.

Working at XXXX will destroy and sense of self esteem. You will become very good at telling half truths or downright lies: this is the only learning you will get from your job.

Advice to Senior Management – You are so self absorbed'with your own superiority that any advice is useless, so I won't waste my time."

[Edited at 2014-05-09 18:25 GMT]


 

Carl Robinson
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you May 9, 2014

Jeff that's great, I never thought to check Glassdoor - a wealth of information!icon_smile.gif

 

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 16:14
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
Interesting link May 9, 2014

Here is an extract from one of these comments, also interesting for translators:

Cons – After XXX was taken over, the only thing that mattered was markup. Project managers received training in manipulating and misleading translators. We were told that translators were overpaid fat cats and a good pay cut was long overdue. We were also told that we should justity the low rates offered by telling translators that all payments would originate from the US, and as a consequence could not be traced by the Dutch Tax Office. So the recommended way for making up for pay cuts was to dodge taxes.

We were required to work about ten hours'overtime every week (unpaid) and were bullied if we dared to question the decisions made by the new management. Within the span of a year, the majority of my colleagues had left. They were replaced by very young, inexperienced and unqualified starters, mainly from countries with high unemployment (Spain, for instance) or from countries such as Russia or China. The idea behind this (YYY expressly states on XXX's website nowadays that Dutch nationals should not apply) is that foreign workers are more easily handled because they have no prospects in their country of origin or need a job in order to keep their residence permits.

XXX has become a true sweatshop, where employees and suppliers alike are taken advantage of. Turnover among employees and translators is skyhigh. YYY actively discourages any form of postitive relationships between Project Managers and translators because this would make it harder for Project Managers to keep telling lies to people they know. In that sense, the permanent exodus of staff is just a management tool to reach the company's objectives.

In a way, you cannot help admiring YYY for perfecting this diabolical way of operating. This is greed performed to perfection.


I guess this just shows very well what we are up against when dealing with big agencies (or agencies that want to become bigger...)


 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:14
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Another good one May 9, 2014

This one is very good too:
http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-TransPerfect-RVW3794080.htm

“Greed is Good at XXXXt”
Project Manager (Former Employee)


I worked at XXXX full-time for more than a year

Cons – All you will do, is trying to push translators to work for you at ridiculously low rates. Tactics used to get translators' cooperation are making promises of better paid jobs at some point in the future (just do this one for next to nothing, next time I will make it up to you), providing misleading information about the nature of the job ("piece of cake, should not take more than two hours" when you know this is a hell of a job with lots of tables and formatting), claiming the client "has got an issue with your translation" in order to cut payments while no negative feedback was received at all, and overcharging clients for services not performed (skip the proofreading, they won't notice - add formatting, they don't know what this is anyway, charge "project management", they won't protest).

XXXX senior management is fully aware of these shinigans, and have in fact raised the minimum mark up from 230 per cent to 270 per cent, forcing project managers to lie and cheat even more in order to meet these ridiculous demands.

Working at XXXX will destroy and sense of self esteem. You will become very good at telling half truths or downright lies: this is the only learning you will get from your job.

Advice to Senior Management – You are so self absorbed'with your own superiority that any advice is useless, so I won't waste my time."


 

nrichy (X)
France
Local time: 16:14
French to Dutch
+ ...
Tricks & bargains May 10, 2014

Long time ago I worked inhouse in a translation agency. Aside from those tricks mentioned above, and lots of others such as charging a rush fee to the client but not paying rush to the translator (we also got a training), we had to bargain with the translators for everything. I really did not like that bargaining part. I don't have lots of principles, but not manipulating others is one of them. The worse was that the translators always accepted.


[Edited at 2014-05-10 10:36 GMT]


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
. May 11, 2014

Spending entire afternoons trying to place small jobs, when all the good translators were either too busy or not answering the phone. It made me realize that customers are just as dependent on us as we are on them.

 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:14
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Asking translators' questions to end-clients May 11, 2014

This happens mostly with video translation jobs.

The end-client needs to show a translated video to their employees, customers, prospects, public at large, on their web site, etc.

Do they want it dubbed or subtitled?
Quite often they don't know; they just want to show it.

Though I (think I) offer adequate guidance for decision-making on my web site, most agency PMs don't have the time to read it, or they don't feel like digesting it. Of course, they wouldn't provide my URL to their clients, much less if they are anly prospects at this time. (In spite of the NDA, I wouldn't know how they found me.)

End-clients try to dump the decision on the agency, or merely choose "whatever is cheaper" (subtitling always is), even when it will be clearly a bad choice.

The end-client insists in having a transcription, which is costly and useless in translation for either dubbing or subtitling (except for a few cases when serveral languages are involved).

What video format do they need?

Of course, the process will involve rendering the video, so countless options are possible. The only "universal" one is DVD.

The end-client says they want to be able to show it using a computer.

What screen size? HD? YouTube? Within a PPT presentation? On a web site? The same as provided for input?

If I ask too many questions, chances are the cornered end-client will wind up showing the video in the language they received it, and "let spectators buy a dictionary". Both the PM and I will lose a job, in spite of all the time we wasted on the phone.


 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

What are the least enjoyable tasks for translation agency project managers?

Advanced search







BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »
WordFinder Unlimited
For clarity and excellence

WordFinder is the leading dictionary service that gives you the words you want anywhere, anytime. Access 260+ dictionaries from the world's leading dictionary publishers in virtually any device. Find the right word anywhere, anytime - online or offline.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search