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Project managers are the keys to running a smooth operation. Documents that need to be translated move through a lot of different people. A translation passes through sales teams, translators, DTP specialists, editors, and more. With so many potential steps and procedures, project managers are essential to ensuring that a project gets to the right people at the right time. Project managers are also primarily responsible for communicating between the client and their team members.  

What is a Project Manager? 

A project manager takes responsibility for planning, monitoring, and delivering projects. They oversee a project and ensure that deadlines are met. Project managers are the driving force behind making sure that each team member is performing their job to the best of their ability, as well as on time. Project members are also responsible for working with budgets and schedules for projects. They define the project scope and help their teammates complete tasks via collaboration. 

Within LSPs (Language Service Providers), a project manager acts as a critical line of communication between clients, translators, and other specialists working on a project. They ensure that the right documents are delivered to specialists. They also work to troubleshoot specific problems that occur during the project. Then, they gather finished products and condense them into organized folders to be delivered to the client.  

What is a Project Scope?

A project scope (somewhat similar to the scope of a translation) is a detailed outline of a project. It includes details such as resources, timelines, and related activities. It also includes assumptions, risk management, and constraints. After creating the project scope, a project manager often shares this document with all who are involved in the project. This includes team members and clients. That way, no one is left in the dark about what must occur for the project to be a success.

Additionally, a project scope informs the client of what kind of product they can expect at the end of the process. The scope includes details about the expected final deliverables. It also includes potential constraints that could affect the project, and acceptance criteria that determines if the project is a success or not. The project manager works with the client to ensure that all these details are acceptable. This collaboration is key to ensure that important details aren’t overlooked. 

During a Project

During a project, project managers direct and manage each step of the scope. They organize documents into manageable folders so that their team members can easily access all information. They also collaborate closely with translators. If a translator comes across a difficult section and requests insight from the client, a project manager is the one to act as that line of communication. 

Even the best-laid plans don’t always work out in the way we expect. Project managers expect some changes to the project scope as they work towards accomplishing their various tasks. When they run into issues, they communicate with those affected and work to uncover an effective solution. This ability to troubleshoot is key to staying on schedule during a project. 

Typical Schedule

The daily schedule of project managers can vary. For some project managers, it may be typical to work on several projects at a time. They may spend their mornings communicating between various clients and providers, or analyzing a potential project to determine a scope. The consistency and amount of work varies depending on what stage of the project they are currently in. 

Essential Skills

Project managers require skills that allow them to collaborate better with their teammates. Some of these essential abilities include: 

  1. Communication- Project managers are bridges between LSP team members and clients. In addition to helping translators understand the will of the client, they also help build better relationships with their clients as they work out project details together.
  2. Organization- organization is an essential part of developing the project scope. A project manager also needs to be able to organize people. As they help to move a project through various team members, they need to be aware of future and past steps.
  3. Time management- A project manager needs to know how to best make use of their time. As they work to meet deadlines, they also need to be willing to help others meet those time requirements. They should be able to give estimates of how much time certain tasks will take, and work to make sure those goals are met. 
  4. Problem solving- As a project evolves, unpredictable details emerge that may cause difficulties or delays in its completion. Project managers require flexibility and the ability to troubleshoot these types of problems. They should search for solutions and try new techniques in order to manage these tricky situations. 

The Takeaway

The role of a project manager is essential for helping LSPs manage translation projects and deliver finished products in a timely manner. They truly are the backbone of the language industry. Their organizational skills and flexibility in the face of difficulties allow them to support their teammates during even difficult times. 

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