Handling the most prevalent issues faced by Language Service Providers
The translation industry is an ever-changing environment where one has to navigate carefully between common pitfalls and dynamic competition. Below are presented 7 challenges which pose a double threat for the entrepreneurs, as they not only occur on a regular basis, but may also prove to be difficult to solve.
Coping with a well-known margin dilemma
Margins constitute a widely discussed issue, especially given the fact that nearly all service providers have to make substantial effort in order to keep them right. Finding the right balance between expenses and revenue is hard enough – and it doesn’t get much easier when we think about promising projects that bring little to no financial profit. Make your colleagues aware that not every project is worth launching their best vendors once we evaluate its financial dimension: before commencing work on it, assess its revenue-generating potential. Check carefully what will be the cost of editor’s, translator’s and proofreader’s input. Never underestimate the amount of work that an average request demands, no matter how tough it would be to estimate all the effort going into managing a project. Nowadays it is common to introduce various automation solutions into company’s daily operation – these help in reducing financial costs, time spent on mundane and repetitive tasks, as well as in avoiding mistakes.
Align the aims of sales and production teams
The responsibility that lies with sales team and their decisions to accept or relegate certain projects remains largely overlooked. In order to facilitate smooth operation, they should be given enough time to carefully review a project, consider whether the revenue they bring is worth time and resources spent on their completion. Some projects might seem very promising, yet the sole amount of effort spent on particular stages of its realisation heavily overweighs any financial profit. Communication is crucial for effortless maintenance of margins and thoughtful selection of projects; ensure that information exchange between these teams is smooth.
Stand out among your competitors – and see what’s important
Determining the sources of your expenses and their volume is crucial for company development; there are still many more issues that require close investigation. Even change has to be managed and based on solid facts stemming from thorough measurement – this way, we can immediately see the results of our actions. While there are many ways to attract your customer’s attention, focus on the assessment of project completion time, quality or customer service. All these things work to your advantage and it is worth to concentrate on their improvement.
More projects do not equal more profit
Language service providers are currently witnessing a subtle shift towards the completion of numerous, yet small translation projects, usually within a very short time span. With the amount of effort and management that these require, it is easy to lose track of revenue such projects bring in – and close investigation of this aspect might be an unpleasant surprise. While no one can afford to ignore such requests, a number of solutions have to be employed in order to make their completion faster and more efficient. Always bear in mind the long-lasting perspective: these projects might seem utterly unprofitable right now. Your client’s small orders, however, might become a stable source of daily revenue. To this end consider implementation of automation strategies - these might become your ally in providing stable, quick language services to loyal customers representing large companies - as these usually requests provision of such aid.
Never underestimate the power that lies within your IT systems
Over the past decade we grew to take for granted our online work environment; we accepted the emergence of various tools that were supposed to facilitate our workflow and make it more efficient. While we may not notice this on a daily basis, we ended up having to focus on separate systems dedicated to finance or project management, as well as browsing through our vendor databases. We rarely spare time thinking about all the effort that goes into memorising specific payment settlements with the vendors – while this could be easily reflected in our management system and we could channel our energy on something else. We may choose to use various systems to ensure uninterrupted workflow; we have to ask ourselves, however, whether it’s really worth it.
Currently many translation agencies follow the trend towards using a Translation Management System. All of the data is conveniently stored in a neatly designed IT environment which fosters company’s operation on a day-to-day basis. Such system allows to track project completion stages, the financial aspect, find the best vendor to complete a given task and ensure smooth communication between team members. In this case, automation also comes in handy.
Coping with intricacies of daily work
Complexity that comes with progress affects every aspect of business – be it IT ecosystem or business in general. Dealing with demanding customer requirements calls for the introduction of tailored solutions, all of this while handling multiple projects at various stages of completion. While using a translation management system – or any other system helping you manage information for that matter – always transfer gathered data to your IT business environment. This makes particular data easily available to all employees who can effortlessly access it and make it work to company’s advantage.
Grow – and explore new markets
An ever-changing environment serves as a mighty force that pushes us towards further development. Demanding situations should be treated not as a necessary evil but an opportunity to learn and gain a new asset. Being able to provide a wide range of services makes you stand out from your competitors and attract potential business partners. In other words, make the obstacle work to your advantage. Focus on your capabilities and offer future collaborators exactly what they need; take your time to define their demands and leap bravely into the future.