Three post-it notes showing the stages of a project

What is the role of the project manager in translation?

Project management is found in any industry, such as in translation, construction or IT. A client calls on the project manager and trusts them to deliver a quality service.

For you to better understand the functions of the project manager, Cultures Connection explains in this article:

– The missions of a translation project manager

– The essential qualities of a translation project manager

First of all, a common characteristic of a translation project manager is previous experience in this business. In our opinion, a good project manager is a former translator who has an overview of the different expectations of everyone. All thanks to a previous experience as a translator. The knowledge of the industry is essential to the smooth running of projects.

1. The missions of a translation project manager

First of all, what is the role of a project manager who is responsible for a translation request? Cultures Connection lists for you all the typical tasks of a translation project manager:

  • Understanding the clients’ needs and helping them define the best approach and objectives. Does the client want to break into a foreign market, reach a wide public or a targeted public, expand its audience? Does the translation relate to a contract, a communication campaign, a technical data sheet, a catalog, or a website?
  • Advising clients and defining what type of service is appropriate for their needs. Project managers make targeted proposals for services: translation for internal communication, translation for the public, highly specialized technical translation for publication, localization, SEO translation, desktop publishing, among others. They have an advisory role, which leads them to make useful recommendations. This approach allows the clients’ expectations to be met in the best possible way.
  • Reassuring clients and guiding them by answering all of their questions is also the project leader’s responsibility. Our clients have access to a personalized online platform allowing them to launch projects, follow their invoicing and refer to all their files.
  • Managing the translation project from start to finish: project leaders closely follow each step of the project, from validation to delivery to the client. They must respect the deadline and the budget required by the client.
  • Following up with clients and acting as an intermediary between the various project stakeholders.
  • Satisfying customer needs is the project manager’s primary goal. The documents delivered must meet the client’s criteria and quality requirements.

2. The essential qualities of a translation project manager

So how do you ensure that translation projects run smoothly? The project manager must demonstrate essential skills:

  • Communication skills and diplomacy. A project manager acts as a mediator and ensures understanding and communication between all participants. It is therefore essential for project managers to be able to express themselves correctly, both in writing and verbally.
  • Capacity to analyze the needs of each person with whom he/she is in contact, in order to adapt and optimize the relationship. In particular, when negotiating deadlines or rates, a project leader must be able to adapt to different personalities. For example, for customers with whom a climate of trust has already been established, exchanges will be easier.
  • Knowing how to get organized is crucial for a project manager. It is important to take into account the time difference, since customers are located on all continents. The project manager does not know monotony and routine, each day sees the birth of one or several new projects. The diversity of the missions makes this job exciting.
  • Being able to cope with stress and urgency. It is important to know that project leaders can find themselves in situations that were not initially included in the job description. They must not be afraid to make decisions and must show initiative. Project managers must be reactive and find solutions quickly.
  • Master the project management tools available, such as computer-assisted translation tools, in order to optimize time management.
  • Communicate in several foreign languages and be fluent in English. Naturally, a translation project manager must preferably have several years of experience in the translation industry.

The translation project leader is the sole intermediary between the various parties involved in the project —client, qualified professionals, proofreaders, accounting. Note that there are also many advantages for a client to work with a dedicated project manager or account manager.

In short, the project manager follows your project from A to Z and takes care of any unforeseen events that may arise. In other words, the project manager’s role in a translation agency is crucial!

This article has been written by Laura Le Galliot

A Master's student in Translation and Interpretation, Laura is doing her apprenticeship in translation, writing and vendor management at Cultures Connection.