In the autumn of 2020, the owner of COMUNICA Tina Julsgaard decided the time had come to switch from a custom-made Translation Management System (TMS) to a much more innovative and automated alternative. After a thorough process of investigation and testing, Tina and her IT Manager Juan José decided to opt for a renowned and industry-leading TMS system by the name of XTRF.
We asked Tina Julsgaard to tell us about this important decision:
Using our own proprietary and tailor-made TMS for 12 years
At COMUNICA, we had been using our own proprietary and tailor-made TMS for about 12 years prior to his change. Over time, all the implementations we had added over the years were beginning to overload the TMS and cause it to gradually become slower and less efficient. Moreover, because the system was first conceptualised 12 years ago, it was now a very old-fashioned system by its very nature.
It was built to meet needs we had way back in the very beginning of Comunica’s existence, which were naturally much simpler than they are today.
After all, we have grown from being a small company with few clients into the international LSP that we are today, with multiple end customers including several Multi-Language Service Providers (MLSPs).
We do translations in any CAT tool available on the market and our processes vary from customer to customer, which means we need an agile and flexible program that can handle projects across all of these different tools. This was something which our existing TMS was no longer able to handle very well.
Programming new features – a dense jungle of codes
Two years ago, I decided to hire an IT manager with a background as a programmer to take care of all our daily IT challenges, and to program improvements in our old customised TMS. It was clear to us all that the old TMS needed to be constantly upgraded.
Every time a project manager needed a new feature, our IT manager would programme it into the system.
This meant new features were continuously being added and the underlying codes were becoming this dense jungle which eventually became impossible to navigate, even for a professional programmer. It also meant that our IT Manager spent 80% of his time programming and had little time left to actually solve our other IT issues.
Requirements, testing and final selection of the most suitable TMS tool
To begin with, we created a long list of all our needs in order to make it easier for us to identify a TMS that would meet our needs. Next, we carried out some comprehensive research to find out what TMS tools were available on the market and we tested a few of them to see what they were like.
Our focus was automation – integration with memoQ, the upload of CAT analysis files for the quick calculation of POs and invoices, and the easy assignment of linguists. Another very important focus was financial reporting features – we wanted a tool which could provide us with precise reports on profit margins and revenue by client, project manager and by project.
We needed the tool to be cloud-based and to offer flexible licensing. This is necessary because our project managers often work from home, especially now during the pandemic.
We also have assisting project managers who do not work on a regular basis and other users such as vendor managers, our IT manager and our finance manager, all of whom do not use the tool as regularly as our project managers.
Reasons why we decided on XTRF
We decided on XTRF based on the testing process which made clear that the TMS had the features we were looking for and would be able to fulfil all our main objectives.
Among other things, it can:
- Automate and streamline our project management processes in general (insertion of word counts, margin calculations on each project).
- Provide complete integration with our CAT Tool memoQ – so we only have to set up the project in one place.
- Ensure a good financial overview and ongoing adaptations in the case of more precise reports.
Expected benefits of this investment
We are very excited about our new TMS and we look forward to seeing its benefits over time.
We believe that it will boost our efficiency and reduce project management time by 15-20 %. That means more time for customer service and attention to details. All this should result in happier employees due to less stress and pressure and thus better performance. On the financial side of the business, we are hoping to improve our results due to the transparency of our profit margins on every single project and our project managers will have more time to attend new business opportunities/sales prospects/client enquiries.
Implementation process (challenges and solutions)
It is always difficult to go from a proprietary tool to a standardised tool because there will always be limitations, and this can make it difficult to get used to the logic behind the new tool.
We had to completely rewire our brains because all of these key aspects such as work flow, rate profiles, specialities and more were all set up differently. It was necessary to keep an open mind and learn these new ways of doing things, which is a challenge, of course, but also enriching.
In-house training programme
Our IT-manager prepared a full training programme for our project managers and in-house translators. Over the course of four weeks, he created tutorials and exercises for them to practise with before we took XTRF partly live. We also used the training courses that XTRF offers to their clients, which gave us a good starting point in terms of increasing comprehension around the programme.
During the implementation period, we discovered that certain features we had in our old TMS were missing, but fortunately there is no limit to the kinds of implementations you can ask the developer team at XTRF to produce for you. These of course mean extra fees, but if the feature is one you simply know you cannot do without, then the most important thing is that you have the possibility to get it.
We are very satisfied with the excellent service provided by the XTRF Support Team.
* XTRF is a cloud-based 3-in-1 translation management system for small translation agencies, medium and large LSPs and enterprise localisation departments. It is a widely renowned tool used both by translation agencies and larger companies with a high volume of translation and localisation projects. The home platform includes project automation and management, vendors, invoicing and sales management. From the home platform you are in direct contact with clients and linguists, who can access the system from their client and vendor portals.