What is a TMS, and Do You Need One?

Mar 13, 2019

Article ImageDo you need a Translation Management System (TMS)? It’s a good question, and there is no simple answer. Anytime you want to know if a product or service should be purchased, start by assessing with a review of current business issues and future challenges. Reality checks are useful, and due diligence is a must when deploying and investing in globalization technology.

Generally speaking, people leading global content strategies think a TMS is going to help them, and their teams, cope with multilingual content using the appropriate level of automation and assistance. There is much more to understand, manage, and deliver behind these three letters though—specifically to make sensible decisions about when and how a TMS should be used both organizationally and technically. More than implementing a system, using a TMS often implies defining processes, changing practices, and creating value for internal stakeholders and external clients. Sustainable progress is part of the TMS picture too. Here are some issues or challenges that you may face and how a TMS can help you solve them, especially if you believe that your current localization efforts are too slow and expensive.

Do your stakeholders handle multilingual and multicultural content in a fragmented and autonomous way across international markets? If so a TMS should help you align translation and localization processes after mapping and adjusting them. It connects content owners, localizers, reviewers, and managers to one virtual place where they can work according to their roles and permissions in the content supply chain. This is typically helpful in silo-based organizations or fast-globalizing companies needing to enforce a globally and cross-functionally consistent framework. It reduces redundancy of tasks, leverages standards, and guides your stakeholders on what to contribute to and how to do it effectively. In addition to increasing collaboration and removing waste, a TMS can be seen as a studio where people who may usually be out of translation and localization loops can chime in and add value. For instance, marketing managers or product leaders who normally consider translation and localization tasks to be optional can be brought into the workflow.

Do you lack control of and visibility into the scope of translation and localization activities that are performed within your organization? If so, you may want to capture value and measure performance in terms of roles and responsibilities, execution, and delivery, resource allocation as well as cost and time effectiveness. Such metrics should be generated for your organization, your business partners, and your suppliers. A TMS can provide you with a variety of statistics, dashboards, and insights telling you how much content has been handled, which markets have required most content or the actual spend per target language, type of content, and approved supplier for example. You can then report and highlight the actual benefits of managing digital assets more centrally and automating selected tasks in an intelligent way.

Do you identify gaps or weaknesses in the way your CMS should accommodate multi-country content? If so a TMS can close loopholes in terms of usability, functionality, and capacity whether it is connected or integrated with your CMS. Implementing a TMS in such cases may cause some hesitation as you may wonder if it would be more effective to upgrade your existing CMS or choose another CMS that is better designed to meet globalized and localized content requirements rather than add a full-blown TMS. At the end of the day, the way to go for you will depend to a large extent on your long-term plans, the level of centralization of your organization and the IT infrastructure. In order to strike the balance between technical requirements and content needs, you should always consider what a TMS does to optimize your international content management from a user and final customer standpoint. More often than not, a TMS proves to be the best companion of a CMS in that area as it complements or accelerates what a CMS does while remaining a cost-effective asset for your whole content management ecosystem that may also include an LMS (Learning Management System) or a DAMS (Digital Asset Management System) for example.

Do you struggle to go above and beyond the linguistic adaptation of your content and products? If so, you realize that in many cases translation is the first step in delivering content that is truly relevant locally and immersive personally. Localization and hyper-localization come to play to ensure that it is also culturally authentic and functionally intuitive. Local content must look nice and work well to be customer-centric. Despite its name, a TMS can do more than just translate content by targeting locales (combinations of languages and territories), groups of people (users, decision makers, buyers), functions (marketing, legal, sales), digital and physical properties (corporate website, business applications, leaflets), or products. You are then able to differentiate your engaging content as needed and according to your audiences and objectives. You can move away from linguistic and cultural indifference.

Do you deal with time-consuming content lifecycles and unnecessary localization iterations internationally? If so, you can address these concerns through more alignment and control. Yet you can go further and faster by enforcing rules and conventions to reuse and repurpose content as often as possible. Leveraging previously translated and localized content decreases costs, increases consistency, and delivers accuracy which delights local customers. A TMS enables you to do so by making your local content repositories available at the speed of when you need them and to whoever has the permission to access them. These translation memories – that may contain also localized and hyper-localized content – prevent you from adapting identical content again and again as well as having to spend time and money in endless iterations. That applies to updated content too, including a portion of already done content. You can also decide if and how available content should be reused safely by your teams or suppliers.

Do you need to work with geographically dispersed suppliers of translation and localization services? While internal alignment is critical to rely on smooth content workflows you may also have to create a (more) robust framework for all your services providers around the world. Regardless of the number of suppliers working for you, you need to maximize their effectiveness and value in globalization processes. A TMS helps you get there as it should be used to assign jobs in line with their overall capacity, areas of expertise, and rates. It puts you more comfortably in the driver seat and allows providers to deliver more quickly under agreed terms and conditions.

You should bear these considerations in mind before, during, and after the selection process of your TMS in order to turn a translation management system into your multilingual content management solution eventually.

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