Build, not buy. About the GTP portal development at Janus Worldwide:

Seven of the ten largest translation companies in Russia have developed their own business automation systems, instead of buying off-the-shelf solutions. Janus Worldwide invested $100,000 and five years of work by a team of six people in its development. The result was the GTP (Global Technology Platform) client interaction portal. By the end of 2020, 50 of the company’s several hundred clients had migrated to it. Natalya Rudinskaya, product owner, talks about this journey.

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– Natasha, how is the platform being used now? And who is using it?

The client portrait is typically as follows:

  • they are a translation department or translation coordinator at a large enterprise with a high translation intensity,
  • they work with several translators and vendors, and order a range of services in addition to translation, such as DTP,
  • and importantly, they prepare translation cost reports for management.

The management task becomes complex, and the client company eventually comes looking for a platform. We are all used to using platforms, even at a domestic level, for example, for ordering food. And for translations, all the more so.

– How did GTP come about?

The GTP concept was born back in 2017. I initially worked as a project manager, when some translations were done in Word, then came Trados 2007, and some tables were maintained in Excel, despite the availability of the ERP – it took a long time to implement changes.

When I had assistants, I gave them certain similar type tasks, but I always thought that many repetitive actions could be done by machine, for example calculating total costs and a client’s budget balance over a month.

We then discussed automating the calculation of estimates and made this functionality available to project managers in our ERP, but the manager still had to send estimates to clients by mail. The client would lose e-mails, reply in the wrong thread, miss deadlines specified in the estimate and then demand hand over of work very much earlier than planned…

Then we realized we needed to allow the client to drop a file somewhere, obtain an estimate of costs and deadlines, and then if everything is satisfactory, confirm the start.

It was important to do something so clients could visually find the project they needed and track progress so they wouldn’t have to ask, “Is the translation ready, will we make the deadline, because it’s extremely important?” This led to the desire to collect all necessary functionality on one platform, and in fact, we already had the blueprints for this in ERP 7 years ago.

I don’t remember exactly who was the first to bring up the idea, but of course the decision was that of Konstantin Josseliani, President of the company, and Igor Mogilevsky, Vice President of Technology at Janus, and then we couldn’t see a future without a new technological solution.

GTP, 2018 version

GTP, 2020 version

The first version came out quite rudimentary and with few features, but we saw the first embodiment of the concept into something you can see and “touch”. ☺

– Why didn’t you purchase something off the shelf – surely that would have been cheaper and easier?

There was no question of buying a ready-made solution, because we had extensive practical experience and an in-house ERP tool created for our processes. Why pay for something that is already there? And we didn’t want to spend extra time and effort explaining to third party developers the intricacies of working on localization projects.

– There are hundreds of companies in Russia with outmoded translation services, where a Trados translation memory plan suffices, and they manage projects on paper and have never heard of TMS. You tried to change that with Across, but it didn’t quite work, did it? Why was that?

We tried working with other platforms and offered them to clients, but became convinced that fine tuning gets more expensive and takes longer if we can’t do it in-house. In the case of third-party platforms, the inertia of technical support complicated implementation, and rather than speeding up and simplifying the process, a long time was spent on training employees and clients who were not ready for it.

GTP, 2020 version

– How did you decide to jump from production to technology? What was behind that? What sparked your interest?

Working as a department manager, as time went on, I began to talk a lot with clients about expanding cooperation, finding ways to optimize their costs, and the format of working with us as a translation company. I launched complex projects, and I delegated the work to managers in my department along established lines, so I started to move away from routine production. It was becoming more and more difficult to work directly on projects and develop technology at the same time, so I took the painful decision to leave my three departments of the time and immerse myself in GTP.

But not everything went nice and smoothly right away. When we first started development, we suddenly realized – although this now seems somewhat superficial – that clients needed a clearer and simpler interface, so we started redesigning it. But then some clients, who had already got used to the first version, found that when we switched to the new one, settings disappeared, extended access rights wouldn’t connect, old projects didn’t open, and managers on our side had empty orders display in the system… Basically, we had to assemble a working group quickly to fine tune the support process for managers and clients.

Like anywhere, translation technologies experience hardships to the stars.

– In a nutshell, there are many portals, their infiltration is low, and connectors and FTP are used far more often. But the Janus team has a plan, an idea, and you care about automating work with the client. Why the portal in particular?

Connectors and FTP cover only part of the manager functionality, and the rest is handled by CAT and TMS. In any combination, you need to use several tools and duplicate activities, and you have to go back to Excel spreadsheets again to make sure nothing gets forgotten…

We think it is convenient to work in a single window format, when there is just one username and password, and there is access to management and monitoring of the translation process at the same time.

Although, there are cases when we can’t do without a connector. ? If a customer has special security requirements and there is no way to use a server solution, or if you need access to more accountability, or a database of translators with ratings and monitoring of their work quality, we suggest installing the system on the client server and a connector to Janus ERP. But that’s another story.

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