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10 simple rules for project managers to live by and keep me happy December 2, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

1. Tell your client that there will be a rush rate/weekend surcharge of 50% if they want the file back at the end of the day or on Monday morning.

2. Keep in mind that we are not machines. If I just translated 30,000 words for you, please don’t contact me a day later asking for a 2,000 word job due the next day.

3. Don’t question your translator when he/she tells you their word count and it differs drastically. If the difference is 10,000 the translator is most likely right – they know how hard they worked. You don’t. I won’t quibble over anything under one hundred, but anything beyond that…

4. Do not pawn off your work onto the back of your translator. If you get a PDF don’t just guess how many words there are – convert the file to text or run it through an OCR tool and get an accurate word count.

5. Please charge the client more for special formatting requests. Our job is to translate, not to format it from scratch.

6. If at all humanly possible, do not contact your translators at 7 PM during the week or at 5 PM on Friday with a job and ask for quick turnaround.

7. Respond promptly to e-mails and especially to questions your translator may have regarding the text.

8. Honor your translators and proofreaders.

9. Maintain a sense of humor and do not take yourself too seriously. It makes my job – and yours – more enjoyable.

10. Remember that even the Lord rested on the seventh day.



1. Alejandro - December 3, 2009

Just brilliant

2. Corinne McKay - December 3, 2009

Awesome tips!

3. Caitilin - December 3, 2009

You’re sounding overworked! Don’t forget also that it’s our role to set the boundaries: For example, invest in caller ID and let client calls go to voice mail outside of your office hours, and don’t respond to that 7 pm email until the next morning.

4. Terena - December 3, 2009

Good rules, Jill. Must admit that even we’re guilty of #4. It’s because many times our translators have better OCR programs than we do, embarrassingly enough, and we tend to think that not getting the count from the translator will lead to having to break #3. It’s unfortunate that many smaller to mid-sized LSP’s aren’t as up on that as freelancers, but it just goes to prove why your ATA presentation this year was helpful on so many levels!

5. Tess - December 3, 2009

Amen to these!

6. jillsommer - December 3, 2009

To be honest I really don’t mind doing the OCR work because then I have control over the formatting, but suggesting a higher word rate is always much appreciated ;-).

7. langueparole - December 6, 2009

I think that it would be better if project managers were also translators (as I am, translator + PM), because in this way none of these rules should be explained to them! 😉 a project manager who is also a translator (or reviewer, or somebody who works with texts and words), knows all of these situations and respects the professionals who work with him/her. He/She knows what is possible and what is not. Or ideally, it should be so ;-).


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