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What is a Translation Management System: Definition, Features, and Benefits 

A translation management system (TMS) is an indispensable part of the localization and translation process. Sometimes referred to as translation management software, these systems simplify the translation process and make it far easier to manage a constantly expanding inventory of localization assets. If you’re keen to expand internationally and need to translate at scale, they’re an essential addition to your arsenal. 

Translating huge volumes of content at once is difficult to manage, especially if you’re catering to several markets speaking many different languages. With translation management systems, it’s easier to keep track of your assets. What’s more, these systems are designed with collaborative workflows in mind. 

As well as providing you with reliable translations, these management systems make it easier to maintain brand identity, while producing content that’s never without context. While translation management systems rely on AI and machine translations to automate the process, post-editing performed by human linguists ensures that the original message of your content is fully realized, while also guaranteeing that translations are culturally appropriate and suitable for new markets. 

When should I consider using a translation management system? 

Traditional translation services are fine for repurposing smaller volumes of text from one language into another. However, as soon as you start working at scale, the need for a translation management system becomes obvious. 

Splitting translation projects into bite-sized blocks can seem practical, but it’s easy for inconsistencies to emerge. Simply managing outgoing assignments and received translations can prove time-consuming, while there’s no assurance that the same translators will be working on each segment. A translation management system makes it easier to supervise teams and oversee workflows, as well as establish fundamental language rules to deliver consistent results from start to finish. 

What are the common features of translation management systems?

The best translation management systems are cloud-based solutions that can allow for easy access and effortless integration. Some solutions are different from others, but most share the same common features. Below, we’ve outlined some of the most common features you’ll encounter when exploring your TMS options. 

Terminology management

When you’re translating at scale, inconsistencies are common. With a TMS, you can localize huge volumes of content more accurately thanks to terminology management. As with translation memory, terminology management provides you with a constantly updated database housing a full glossary of translated text, brand information, and other useful terms. 

When you’re producing content in many different languages, the need for terminology management becomes apparent. A translation management system ensures that content is consistent across every version, making it easier to maintain clear and cohesive messaging in many different languages. 

Workflow control

Relying solely on human linguists is never a good idea when you’re working at scale. However, translation management systems provide you with an efficient way to handle projects with big volumes. The best solutions allow you to maintain constant oversight of workflows 24/7. What’s more, you’ll be able to automate many tasks, improve communication with key team members, and avoid having to waste precious time on things like file management. 

A good TMS should be able to connect with your content management system to pull content as soon as it’s updated. This content can then be readily assigned to translators, ensuring it’s retooled for new markets quickly. You’ll also want a TMS that can be easily integrated with other applications you might be using daily. 

Memory management

One of the most important aspects of translation management systems is memory management. This is essentially an extensive database of translated content. Sometimes referred to as translation memory, it allows you to reuse words and phrases that have already been translated, rather than translate content from scratch every time. 

When in doubt, human translators can turn to translation memory to see if a word or particular phrase has been previously translated, delivering consistency and dramatically reducing the time required to complete translation projects. What’s more, translation memory is stored centrally, meaning everyone working on a translation or localization project has access to the same insights. 

Reporting management

Without robust reporting, any localization effort is doomed to failure. Managers need to monitor progress to ensure project milestones are going to be met, while stakeholders will be keen to weigh up the ultimate cost of the process. 

Every translation task is carried out within one system when you use a TMS. By saying goodbye to endless spreadsheets and email exchanges, it’s easier to access the information needed to measure performance and ROI. 

Integration of machine translation (MT) management

Ideally, a TMS should include an API that allows for integration with machine translation engines. While some workflows may depend on human translators, there may come a time when someone needs to turn to machine-generated suggestions for support. What’s more, machine translation engines can help automate huge portions of a translation project. 

If your TMS supports API integration, you can dramatically expand the potential of your system. As well as allowing you to tap into machine-generated translations, you’ll be able to integrate your system more widely into your workflow. 

The key benefits of a TMS

Translating a website or digital content isn’t always straightforward. Content often needs to be changed every day, while keeping track of multilingual assets demands a lot of time and resources. If you’re working manually without the support of a TMS, translation teams need to depend on email chains to communicate and spreadsheets to record project progress. Even if you’re using machine translation tools, they can prove pretty ineffective when used independently from a translation management system. 

The more complex a translation project becomes, the more manual processes need to be introduced. This can complicate workflows, increase the chance of human error, and significantly slow down output. With a translation management system, these kinds of issues aren’t something you need to worry about. They offer a centralized ecosystem for carrying out all translation tasks, while also delivering invaluable management tools.

Need more convincing that it’s time to embrace a TMS? Below are just a few of the ways they can simplify the translation process. 

Embrace automation and say goodbye to human error

Until the advent of TMS, the majority of translation projects were managed with tabbed spreadsheets. While this approach can work relatively well when managing smaller projects, they’re not suitable for multilingual localization strategies that depend on multiple workflows. A single spreadsheet needs to be constantly updated to keep track of project progress, while there’s always scope for human error. Some text may be added in error, while other cells may be missing information entirely. If this content is published, it can make a bad impression on customers and reflect poorly on a brand. 

With translation management systems, none of these issues exist. A TMS is designed with streamlined workflows in mind, meaning everyone working on a project is on the same page, all the time. Everyone enjoys access to identical data, with updates made instantaneously and any changes visible. What’s more, cloud-based systems bring you the guarantee that everyone is working with the same operating version and an identical user interface, further enhancing consistency. 

Boost productivity with enhanced collaboration 

The translation process is a collaborative one. When delivering multilingual projects, a translation team can be expansive, with linguists working from many different locations. Translation management systems are designed with these dispersed teams in mind and offer useful collaboration tools. 

When using a TMS, you’ll be able to attach comments to translated text or provide notes regarding a new assignment that translators can reference before getting to work on a new batch of content. Furthermore, status updates can be accessed in real-time, driving productivity and allowing you to maintain constant oversight. 

These kinds of features are invaluable if you’re relying on external support, such as a language service provider. Whether you’re using a single provider, a team of freelance translators, or a combination of both, a TMS simplifies team communication and gives you the visibility you need to deliver a project on time. 

Seamless integration for scalability 

Even the most advanced TMS depends on other systems and software to get your content where it needs to be. With a TMS, you can use API technology to seamlessly integrate with your content management system and other software. 

However, not every TMS offers the same level of integration. If you want to avoid time-consuming development tasks and the costs associated with these, check the full capabilities of a TMS before settling on it as your preferred solution. 

Deliver accurate translations consistently 

Second-rate translations reflect badly on your brand, while a lack of consistency can be just as damaging to your reputation. Fortunately, a TMS provides you with several useful tools that can ensure accurate translations consistently, no matter how many languages you’re working in. 

Along with translation memory, term bases provide translators with the guidance they need when using keywords and phrases that recur most frequently in your content. By understanding the exact meaning of these terms, accuracy is significantly improved. Some systems also allow you to create style guides in different languages, which can help improve branding across every language you’re using. 

Save time and money while freeing up resources 

A TMS can automate many of the processes usually encountered with a translation project. All the usual benefits of automation can be enjoyed here, including major cost and time-saving benefits. By removing manual tasks from your workflows, efficiency is guaranteed, allowing your teams to handle huge volumes of content in many different languages and formats. 

Centralizing the translation process with a TMS also allows companies to identify how much they’re spending on individual tasks. If needed, these insights can be used to identify where costs can be made. 

Why a TMS is a must for global brands

If you’re thinking about global expansion, a TMS can bring value to your company. Below are just a few of the results global organizations can expect when adopting a TMS to manage translation projects. 

Accelerating time to market with a TMS

The translation process can take up a considerable amount of time, particularly if you’re handling large volumes of text. With a TMS, you can streamline the process and eliminate many time-consuming tasks typically associated with manual translation. Time-to-market restrictions become a thing of the past, allowing you to keep up with fast-paced supply chains and consumer demand. 

Enhancing global brand image through a TMS

With a TMS, you can be confident that you’re delivering the best user experience possible. When moving into new markets, translated content is probably the first encounter that a consumer will have with your brand. Poor translations that fail to adhere to cultural requirements and basic language rules are only going to reflect poorly on your brand. A TMS allows you to implement robust quality control measures, meaning second-rate content is never something you’re going to have to worry about. 

Driving global revenue growth with a TMS

When you can hit the market faster and deliver high-quality translated content consistently, revenue growth is all but assured. A TMS lets you measure ROI more quickly, while an improved user experience is more likely to turn one-time buyers into loyal customers. 

How are translation management systems continuing to evolve? 

Translation management systems are already incredibly advanced. However, emerging technologies look set to revolutionize this invaluable translation technology further. Artificial intelligence continues to refine neural machine translation tools, with machine-assisted translations becoming increasingly reliable. 

Audiovisual translations are also likely to become commonplace in the years ahead. While many solutions can now translate audiovisual content to an extent, new innovations are making it possible for businesses to localize everything from subtitles to dubbed audio tracks. 

Why is BLEND the ideal translation partner?

BLEND is your all-in-one solution for localization. Whether you require standard text translation, need help with video localization, or want to unleash the potential of AI, our single-source platform has everything you need to translate your content via your TMS. Bringing together the latest advancements in machine translation technology with the quality assurance of human linguists, BLEND can help you localize your content at scale. 

BLEND provides you with the tools you need to orchestrate successful translation and localization projects, every time. From pre-translation scoping to assigning the best talent for the job, we’re here to help right from the planning stages to the final delivery of your content. 

Searching for a translation management system to support API-driven workflows, manage multiple projects, and penetrate new markets faster than ever before?

BLEND integrates with the industry’s top TMS solutions. Not sure which TMS is right for you? Check out our Talking TMS series to learn more, or speak to our team of experts to match you to the best TMS for your needs.

author post

Fouad Habash

As BLEND’s Localization Solutions Engineer, Fouad is a seasoned expert in translation technologies, including TMS, CAT tools, AI and MT. With over 14 years of industry experience, Fouad ensures our clients receive the best and most efficient localization processes.


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