When I started my career as a freelance translator I remember having a confused idea on project managers. They all seemed very lucky people to me as they were just…ya know…managing the projects…but! I then realized, after becoming myself one of them, how difficult, stressful and full of responsibility the role of project manager is.
I’d like to list 5 extremely useful tips that will make you succeed as a project manager:
1 – COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE
I know you are thinking: is she really suggesting to drink coffee? The answer is yes… Never start your working day without a coffee or whatever makes you wake up in the morning! I have to admit this is especially for all the caffeine lovers out there and it’s been a while now that I’ve been wanting to write a post about my favourite drink. That brownish liquid filling up the most colorful and funniest cup you own is your fuel. Coffee is the first thing you need to get in the morning, before sitting at your desk, before talking to your colleagues or relatives in the house, before saying hello to your cat. Yes, Coffee is the key which opens the doors of your dreams…ehm…maybe now I’m overpraising the substance but, believe me, it will help. P.S. As for the tea lovers, please read again point 1 and substitute coffee with tea if you have to.
STAY TUNED AS I MIGHT WRITE AN ENTIRE POST ON THE VARIETIES OF COFFEE…AND YES, IT’S TRANSLATIONS RELATED.
2 – ALWAYS KEEP YOUR EMAILS VERY PROFESSIONAL
Writing emails by using a professional style is extremely important, even when the temptation to “keep it friendly”, especially with long term collaborators, is very strong. I’ve noticed that once the tone of my email gets a little more informal, the person receiving the email might take my requests less seriously and take advantage of it in any possible way. Also, always be polite. I know it is not easy when you try to achieve results and the communication with the person you are dealing with is not taking you anywhere, but keep in mind that:
„Messages you send are a reflection of your own professionalism , values, and attention to detail, so a certain level of formality is needed.“
3 – PRIORITIZE THE PRIORITIES!
When you get a new project and start organizing the whole process to get it done, it’s easy not to be aware of what needs to be prioritized. Let’s say that you are in charge of 2 millions words to be translated in 3 weeks time, so this means budgeting to think about, glossary to get ready, proofreading to be performed, text preparation etc. Well, besides your client’s satisfaction, I’ve learned that understanding what task needs to be done first is essential to provide a good service. Never feel the pressure, always think ahead!
4 – TEAMWORK: YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Translations are about teamwork! Although the translation itself needs to be done by the translator, the whole management process is made of a team of people with different skills. It’s always been fascinating to me how a project can reach the end with the cooperation of skilled and experienced people: starting from the project manager who “manages” the different phases to the proofreaders who check the final translation which will be then delivered to the client. So when YOU, the project manager, finds yourself in a very stressful situation due to many factors such as time constraints and sudden changes during the process, you should never forget that you are not alone but a whole team of qualified people is there to help, therefore release the pressure and start breathing again. Teamwork is definitely a key aspect when it is about project management.
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
5 – KEEP YOURSELF UPDATED…AND YOUR TOOLS AS WELL
In a world where efficiency is key, being up-to-date with all the tools required to get the job done is something that you should really think about. First of all, if this is your first experience as a project manager, getting familiar with some of the project management methodologies would be the best thing you can do to have the right knowledge when starting this job. I would strongly recommend a course held by Roberto Bertuol which goes from preparing a quote to delivering the finished translation: https://www.robertobertuol.com/project-management-translators-training/ Roberto is not only a nice person but a great teacher!
Lastly, if you think that a project management software would only be a waste of money and would not be of any help, well, think again. In the beginning, I was very reluctant of using any tool related to the management but I had to change my mind very soon. You can’t believe how extremely helpful might be having something like a digital secretary who keeps your tasks well organized and makes you speed up all the tasks. Here’s some of the tools you might consider and find useful: https://www.xtrf.eu/product/ https://lokalise.com/product/for-managers https://www.plunet.com/en/