Imagine a tennis court, with multiple players on each side, only, instead of a fence, there is a person in the middle, responsible to catch several incoming balls from both sides. Something like this.
Oh wait! That looks just like me.
And it probably looks like you too, if you have been working as a Translation Project Manager, handling multilingual projects.
Ok, so here are the clients on one side, and the translators, reviewers, and editors on the other. The serve is always hit by the client and the ball should be returned safely to them.
To be able to play this game successfully, first of all you need to have respect for the game itself and for each and every player, on both sides. Get to know them, trust them, and, by all means, educate them.
Managing multilingual projects means communicating with professionals from all over Europe, if not all over the world. Adjust to the different cultures, ask and explain as much as you can, learn and use this knowledge to communicate better next time.
Stay close to the players around you. Keep track of your translators' capacity and schedule, and make sure your clients stay calm, by sending them regular updates.
Don't be afraid to throw this ball back and forth. Enquiries, feedback, special instructions, and preferences have to be circulated and taken into account by everyone involved.
In the unlikely event that the ball goes missing, well, don't panic. It's somewhere around you and your job is to find it fast, and continue playing. You can then deal with who did what and why, to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Be thankful for every obstacle, accept responsibility, and learn from your mistakes. You will be able to foresee it next time and you will be a little wiser than yesterday. Having said that, just make sure you don't overdo it.
Invest time on getting to know your court, your product, and your tools. There are things you learn as you play but when you enter the "hectic zone", you should be able to move fast and efficiently.
Organization and prioritization will save your sanity, especially when you have several balls coming your way. Set realistic deadlines and ask for regular status updates, to make sure everything's going according to plan.
Choose the players wisely. Analyze your projects in terms of field and level of specialization. Evaluate your team and use a ranking system to facilitate resource allocation going forward.
Don't be afraid to try new things. Use PM tools to save time and stay organized. Technology can turn time consuming (and nerve-racking) workflows into 5-minute validation tasks.
Having done this for 12 years, I swear it can get even more complicated than that -there might even be a melon coming towards you, instead of a tennis ball. Just keep calm, analyze the situation, prepare the safety net, and go for it.
Author: Elena Rista.