Planning Large Projects

Translating a paragraph of 100 words might take 10 minutes or half an hour, depending on the complexity of the text. Following the same logic, translating an entire page of about 400 words in Microsoft Word can take between half an hour or an hour. Again, in a broad and general sense, these are the times that a conventional translation of plain text imply. With these terms in mind, the deadline for a translation project that is larger in scale can be easily calculated. But what happens when a translation requires other steps? What if the number of words is very large and requires several translators? What if the text needs a step of pre-editing of format or a step of linguistic pre-editing? What if it needs DTP or a final quality control? What happens if they are html files to be processed at a later stage with the IT Department? These are the cases when the calculation of deadlines is often complicated.

It is therefore essential to have a careful prior planning stage for these major projects. This is a task that needs to be handled solely by the Project Manager, who must take “ownership” of the project to carry out the steps according to the deadline. In the planning stage, the PM takes into account all the factors that will directly affect the quality of the project: customer deadline, number of files, format, text complexity, available resources, steps to implement, additional steps. All these variables determine planning. Typically, this planning is done before starting the project. However, some agencies have already charted a preliminary planning from before the project is started, as it is often useful when quoting a translation project.

Whether you plan the project just before starting the translation project or when quoting the project for the client, careful planning for these large projects that require many steps and resources is essential.

There are tools that can be very useful to carry out proper planning. One of them, for example, is MS Project. This is a very easy to use, similar to an Excel spreadsheet. MS Project allows you to list in a spreadsheet all the steps involved in a translation project (translation, editing, proofreading, DTP, for example), which, in turn, can be linked in ways that they are dependent on each other, following basic formulas. Thus, the project can be planned in the best way depending on the resources available and the steps to follow.

(Versión en español: Planificación de proyectos de gran tamaño)