3 sure fire ways to annoy your project manager

July 26, 2011 by admin

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Being a project manager has given me valuable experience and a set of work ethics to live by should I later decide to delve into the world of freelance translation. In a sense, working in project management for a translation company stands me in good stead to be a model freelance employee. I definitely know what to avoid and what I can do to get into the good books and, in theory, on to the ‘go-to’ list of translators for a translation agency.

This is my time to grumble, and I thought I would share some sure fire ways of raising the hackles of your translation project manager

Delivering late

This has to be the ultimate ‘no-no’ – deadlines are not set just for the fun of it. As project managers we try to be as understanding as possible in terms of work load and what is physically possible in the turnaround times given. If translators contact me asking for an extension I usually try and accommodate this and, if necessary, arrange a later delivery time with the client. However, I have no patience or time for translators who consistently deliver late, for no particular reason and who do not provide any prior warning. You wouldn’t put up with a food order being delivered to your table 3, or even, 24 hours late so why should a tasty translation be any different? If delivery is late on more than one occasion, translators are unresponsive and unapologetic then unfortunately I am very unlikely to use the freelancer again.


Proofreading often takes up a large part of my time, consistency, or should I say lack of it, in a translation, therefore, becomes immediately obvious. Consistency, and, needless to say, accuracy in terminology is of the utmost importance. Translating a term throughout a text in several different ways is definitely a way to rankle your PM. Keeping a glossary or perhaps using a ‘find and replace’ tool is a good way of ensuring a uniform use of terms throughout. The use of Translation Memory tools can help with this, and even if there is a mistake in the translation of a word at least the mistake will be consistently wrong, and thereby easier to correct.

Not knowing how to use a computer

Admittedly not everyone is good with a PC, or knows their way around 100% of the functions available in the basic word processing programs. However, as a PM I do expect translations to come back in a sensible format, the document retaining as much of the original layout and formatting as is feasibly possible. This is often not the case, and a lot of valuable time is wasted trying to rectify this in-house. Yes, you’re a translator and your primary concern is the rendering of language in a ‘user-friendly’ way, but this should also be true with the presentation of a document. With the advancements in technology and in the industry all translation is now, more or less, computer based. Move with the times and enrol on a basic IT course- it’ll make us all happy bunnies!


I have limited myself to three ‘pet peeves’ here so as to refrain from sounding too much like a grumpy old bag, sitting bitter and twisted in front of my computer muttering about the latest formatting mess or non-delivery. In truth, most freelancers are great and go out of their way to make my job easier. The majority make project management enjoyable, and to those who bring sunshine to my day: I commend you!


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