Things to look for in a TMS when you are concerned about Scalability
Create your system checklist on the fly
Scalability isn’t always the Number 1 priority when organizations are selecting which tools to work with. Even in Wordbee’s marketing, we sometimes fall into the trap of choosing a tool that meets our needs right now, because our objectives usually fall into the performance right now sort of category. We can always cross that bridge later, right? In reality, migrating from one system to another is pretty complicated, so if you discover that you need to switch, it can be difficult. In fact, Wordbee has a whole team dedicated just to helping customers migrate!
It’s wise to do your due diligence, and scalability matters a great deal whenever you are selecting a new tool. And when we’re talking localization, we’re talking about the technology that powers entire companies, governments, institutions, or localization departments.
There is a line of thought that you should write down all the things that you need, and then write down all the things you think that you’ll need, and perform an evaluation based on that criteria. Sounds reasonable, right?
The problem with this thinking is that you can’t know what you don’t know… and the write-everything-down approach limits you to what you can imagine. Maybe there are ideas, features, ways to improve, etc., that you haven’t even imagined.
We recommend building a big list, but then revising this list very carefully based on the features and solutions available to scout out the things that will help you in the future. Get personal demonstrations, ask questions, and keep working on this list. As you continue talks, the right solution should make itself clear to you.
Key areas of scalability
CAT tool & file formats
You can take the approach where you separate project management from your CAT tool, or you can find an integrated system, like Wordbee. In either case, you’ll want to review support for all the different file formats, check out new features, and get involved on this front.
We recommend against making assumptions about file formats. While many systems claim to support a file format, some offer more advanced features than others. For example, lots of systems offer subtitle translation, but only one lets you preview the subtitles right in the video (Wordbee).
Likewise, you might think, “Oh, we’ll never need InDesign file formats.” That is, until you really do need them! This is the whole point of scalability. So, we recommend exploring support for a variety of formats so you can get a good handle on the capabilities of each tool. For complex projects, like with software or games, you might discover totally new ways of working by simply talking with companies like Wordbee about the file format options you have available.
Workflows change all the time. So you set one up, it works — and then you need something else. You add a new process. You change the way you automate. You need to grant access to new stakeholders. The list goes on.
At Wordbee, we generally tell people that we support everything in terms of workflows, which is pretty much true. But we encourage people who are scouting systems to go even more in-depth. Get a demo, ask questions, and see all the different possibilities, because workflows are core.
Try to find the differences between systems in terms of workflow support. Try to think ahead. More support for more workflows will pay off in the long term. Less support for fewer workflows might come back to haunt you as your operations scale.
Integrations and APIs
Which systems will you need to connect with, and how do you need to connect to them?
Sometimes, this is pretty straightforward. For example with CMS solutions, a technology either supports Drupal or it doesn’t.
Other times, it’s more complex. If you are a software company or department, you may have specific needs, like branch management, the ability to connect to specific repos, or translating specific code formats. Or maybe you don’t need all of that, but you’d like to be aware of everything as you scale your operations.
Moreover, these connectors often work in totally different ways. For example, Wordbee offers standalone connectors that enable you to get a live preview of software and websites, and translate stuff right on the app itself. So that’s cool — maybe you don’t need that right now, but knowing that it’s there should factor into your scalability points.
And if you are an LSP, you’re going to want to support as much as you can, and in the best way. We would recommend an in-depth demonstration with each provider about how their integrations work, what is supported, and what is available via API. Keep working on that checklist!
Automation is the name of the game these days, and it can take several different shapes. You can kick off assignments automatically, assign workflows to certain types of jobs that originate from different departments… It can get pretty big, and it’s the Number 1 thing you need to look at with scalability.
How much are you automating right now and how much will you automate in the future? The answer to this is generally, a) we are not automating as much as we would like to, and b) we’d like to automate more things in the future.
So the types of automation that you have available are critical when it comes to evaluating the scalability of any given solution.
Vendor management is not a huge area for scalability, because there’s overlap between systems and tools. Nevertheless, there are areas of concern here.
With what granularity can you control vendor pricelists or client pricelists? How are these prices connected to the overall setup of the system? Can you set up things like availability or the throughput of words? How can you use the vendor management tools on offer to better automate assignments?
Another area to consider is the ability to review and provide feedback. Over time, you may want to get a better handle on which vendors are performing the best.
So while vendor management is a clear area for most systems, there are still differences! We recommend being as thorough with vendor management as you are with everything else.
Reports and analytics
The more sophisticated your operations get, the more KPIs you’ll start to look at. Ameesh Randeri from AutoDesk pointed out that they went whole-hog at Autodesk with like 70 KPIs before finally reducing that number to about 12.
When you’re talking about scalability, you’ll want to have at least the same analytics and reports you’re using now. However, given the state of the industry, you may not have any analytics or reports, in which case you should definitely start with 2 or 3.
Probably the most critical component of scaling with analytics is to have regular meetings (quarterly or monthly) based on the KPIs. This basically unlocks an iterative process for your company. What you need to know and what you need to do will become increasingly clear to you.
Wordbee has 140 reports plus super-powered Excel capabilities, so you can pretty much scale your analytics usage indefinitely, which is pretty great for any organization that focuses on self-improvement.
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