Monday, December 6, 2021

Great expectations – Service provider- PM relations


[Two puzzle pieces*]

One of the most vital links in the LSP as well as other business processes is the relationship between the service provider, often a translator, and the project manager. When smooth, it leads to optimal efficiency but, when flawed, can create production delays and poor products. One cause of tension is the fact that translator and PM have only partial knowledge of the difficulties faced by the other party. Yet, in practice, they share the similar expectations of their colleague. Some 18 years of experience working with PMs and long-term relations with many of them have led to believe that the keys for a successful partnership are mutual respect for timeliness, insistence on meticulousness and faith in the good intentions of the other party.

The translation business, as most other businesses, is structured by deadlines. Clearly, customers expect the finished product by the agreed time. Also, as ISO and less official QA process generally involve multiple stages, it is vital for all providers to meet their insistence deadline in order to avoid a domino effect on the entire process. It is my experience that PMs value translators that deliver their document on time without prompting. While unpleasant surprises such as illness or computer failures occasionally occur, these incidents should be extremely rare. In practice, this means that translators need to consider their deadline very carefully and report any issues as soon as possible. From the vendor point of view, translators respect PMs that quickly reply to queries as the answers are often vital for the project. They also appreciate receiving all information, including venue passwords, customer requirements and POs, in a timely manner such that the translator does not have to invest time in additional emails to attain that information. If any issues arise, linguists appreciate updates as soon as the PM has the information. In regards to companies with non-automated systems, I enjoy a prompt confirmation of the receipt of the translated document as I know that I do not have to worry about any email issues. When both translator and PM respect each other’s time, it makes the whole process not only more efficient but more pleasant.

[Snakeskin pattern]

Of course, attention to detail by both parties is vital for product quality. Clearly, good translators strive very hard to produce accurate translations, investing sufficient time in QA. As part of this process, attentive translators make a policy to read and reread the instructions to avoid wasted work and post-delivery revision. Effective PMs make sure that the translators have all the tools required to succeed, including access to originals and the required format. Attentive PMs also provide vital information related to the translation, such as the intended audience and spelling of the name in the target information. In fruitful PM-service provider relations, each side is pulling its weight.

[Jackdaw cleaning jackday]
As on all partnerships, trust is the key. Specifically, it is important that each party believes in the good faith of the other and its willingness to learn from incidents. All PMs clearly desire a smooth flow but proficient ones understand that sometimes “shit happens”. Likewise, experienced translators keep in mind that the PM may be involved with numerous projects and venders at the same time. Thus, a healthy PM-translator relation involves the belief that the other party is doing the best it can. When an issue arises, the emphasis is on solving it and learning from the experience, not establishing financial responsibility. The lessons learned solidify the basis for cooperation as both parties understand that they have a serious partner, one that cares about the result.

Timely, meticulous and good faith cooperation between service provider and project manager in all fields provide a solid basis for an effective and long-term collaboration. Of course, other factors influence the relationship, including rate structures and corporate culture. Still, if these basic expectations are met, it will be the best of times.

* Picture captions allow the blind access the Internet.

All picture via Pixabay.

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