Mass messaging to place translation projects: Is it worth the trouble?

Are translators working with translation agencies condemned to receiving mass messaging whenever a new translation is to be assigned?

Managing translation projects can present many challenges, one of which being communicating with translators in order to assign the workload. Here are some thoughts on how translation agencies operate, and the use of mass messaging.

The needs of translation agencies

A serious translation agency must always have several qualified translators available for the same type of work. If a client requests a financial translation, the translation agency in question must be able to provide a quality service. And in order to do that, it needs a translator specialized in the area of finance.

The use of freelance translators

Some agencies work with in-house translators, but most of them rely on freelance translators. This system has obvious advantages, including huge savings in payroll. But it also has its drawbacks: for example, the agency can’t ensure the availability of any one translator in particular.

The creation of a database of translators

Therefore, most agencies work with several translators per area of specialization in order to maximize their chances of responding to any request at any time. This is all the more necessary as translation projects often require, either because of their size or in order to meet deadlines, that the workload should be divided between different translators.

Mass messaging: an easy solution?

This is a modus operandi that offers great flexibility to the company but that is not always easy to organize. What happens, for example, when an order is placed with an agency for a translation project and this agency has to contact, from its database, freelancers whose profiles correspond to the project in question? The easiest solution: mass messaging.

The disadvantages of mass messaging

Obviously, mass messaging enables the agency to contact all the translators at once who might be concerned, but it has two major drawbacks:

  • the contact is depersonalized, which may not be ideal for work relations between the two parties;
  • mass messaging can have the effect of “rushing to the translation” which is both stressful and frustrating for translators: it’s a first-come, first-served system, so the first to respond to the mass message will be given the translation project.

Alternatives to email

Consequently, new strategies are being considered. The end of email has been announced for some years now:

  • systems such as HipChat and Yammer have appeared on the market;
  • Slack, a new platform for messaging and research, is growing;
  • other tools such as Sanebox, Mailstrom, Inbox Pause and Xobni are also out there;
  • software programmes like Ommwriter and Freedom are being used more and more often;
  • other tools such as Unroll.me and Boomerang are also gaining popularity.

So what are your solutions for the division of labor in the world of translation? What messaging system does your translation agency use? What platform for collaborative translation?

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