Project AnalysisProject Analysis
Project analysis can take many forms. A quick analysis, meant to simply paint a picture of the work to be performed, will sometimes be enough. In other cases, a deep analysis, which may be factored into the negotiation process (perhaps even as the basis for a future project), may be required.
The analysis must determine:
- The project type
- The project components
- The production stages
- The necessary resources
Projects TypesProjects Types
The first stage of a project involves determining the translation project type. Many classifications may be used, but most often, projects are divided by sector:
A. "Documentation" Projects
These projects present a very wide degree of complexity; they mainly include documents to be translated.
In the most simple cases, a document contains content of an e-mail message or a CV. In more complex cases, documents mostly include, for example, user guides describing various technical and lengthy processes (computer processes, medical brochures, automobile manuals, etc.)
B. "Software" Projects
This type of project refers to localisation of software and accompanying material (documentation guides, help files, marketing brochures, licences, CD jackets, etc.).
Again, these projects may be very simple and include only interface text strings to be translated in a text editor, or they may be extremely large and complicated, requiring the translation of hundreds of files of all types and formats (Java, XML, RC, etc.), testing of translated software on several operating systems, several updates, etc.
C. "Multimedia" Projects
These are typically projects using audio and/or video elements. For example, the translation of a course containing video animations with text and voice recordings.
Such projects usually require special software that may be expensive. Furthermore, they sometimes require the involvement of other companies, particularly in the case of renting a studio and recruiting actors to record translated text.
D. "Web" Projects
This category is very extensive, as "Web" projects can sometimes combine pieces from other categories mentioned above.
Their complexity may be low (for example, translation of some HTML pages) or high (for example, localisation of a sophisticated website with animations, files, video, and/or sound and built-in software applications).
Project ComponentsProject Components
The various project types are defined around their "components," whose size and complexity will also influence overall project management.
A. "Documentation" Projects
Documentation projects most often consist of pages of text presented in a word processing or desktop publishing application. The programs used for it offer assorted features and functionalities, sometimes specific to the operating system (for example, MS Word, Adobe FrameMaker, QuarkXPress, PageMaker, etc. on PC or MAC).
Moreover, these pages may contain graphics (for examples, diagrams with captions, images, photos, or dialog boxes) to be translated or altered within specific applications (Adobe Illustrator, PaintShop Pro, etc.).
Finally, the client may request PostScript files (PDF or PS formats) to be delivered according to the final format of the translated documents (a PDF file accessible via the Internet or printer-ready documents).
B. "Software" Projects
The heart of a software project is typically the software application itself. A collection of associated components may accompany it as well (wizards, installation script, etc.).
Documentation related to the software would be classified as a "Documentation" project, as described above. It often constitutes a major component and may span several documents, including user manuals, installation guides, quick reference cards, etc.
Another component is almost always built into the software: online help. This mainly describes the software's functionalities or interface elements, and it may also include some specific procedures to follow while using the program. Help files are most often HTML files compiled into CHM format; they may or may not involve graphics or screenshots showing interface elements.
Besides these three principal components, a software project may also include legal, sales, informational, etc. files (licences, brochures, "Read me" files, etc.)
C. "Multimedia" Projects
As in practically any translation project, the foundation of multimedia projects will be text.
But other components, such as graphics, video files with or without animations, audio files, and sometimes software files will generally round out the multimedia project.
This may consequently require a special translation process, such as subtitling or voice over, and likewise involve translators trained in this area. Depending upon the client's request, they must have software to allow them to handle the different stages of audiovisual translation (indexing, spotting, adaptation, simulation, etc.).
D. "Web" Projects
The collection of components we have discussed may integrate together into a "Web" project (PDF or other document, software components, multimedia applications, etc.).
However, these projects will rest, above all, upon Web-specific components, like "simple" HTML files or scripts (asp, php, etc.) connected to databases.
This quick overview of the various project types and their components illustrates the diversity and multiplicity of tasks with which a project manager is faced. The more a project relies upon varied and complex components, the greater the level of knowledge required to manage it.
Of course, by no means must the project manager be required to singlehandedly perform each of the tasks within a project.
However, it is fundamental that the project manager understands and grasps its size in order to determine not only the various steps necessary to accomplish the project, but also the human and material resources necessary for completing it.
Production StagesProduction Stages
Depending upon the project type and its various components, there may be multiple production stages. They may also vary as a result of various requirements, such as time, budget, available resources, etc.
A. Linguistic Stages
Nearly all projects include a translation phase. In some cases, this is followed by a revision step, which could itself be a distinct task associated with a specific project. Other linguistic stages may also be incorporated into a project, like a specialised technical revision (medical translation reviewed by a doctor) or the review of a manual to compare named interface elements against localised software.
B. Technical Stages
Technical stages will depend, of course, on the type of project.
"Documentation" projects will often include page setting for documents and/or graphics-level modifications. This work is possibly followed by a quality assurance stage, whereby the final document is verified against the stated requirements. A document will be rejected, for example, if its character fonts do not conform exactly to those in the source document provided by the client.
Within a "Software" project, we will generally find steps for compiling, testing, and debugging the software. A quality assurance stage may also be planned. Its goal would be to ensure that the combined linguistic and technical stages meet established criteria, like the use of correct local values (time, date, etc.), the use of proper terminology, the correct operation of all options, etc.
By their complexity and their diversity, "Multimedia" and "Web" projects themselves may include only some very simple steps or, to the contrary, a multitude of technical steps of all types, related to the various components of these projects.
Necessary ResourcesNecessary Resources
A. Human Resources
Sometimes, all steps within a project may be performed by a single person. In other cases, projects require the help of dozens of people. It is the responsibility of the project manager to assemble the project team.
The translation will be handled by one or more translators. Those translators may also be used for reviewing translations. It may even be necessary to call upon "specialised" reviewers, as described above.
It is uncommon for translators to be responsible for "technical" steps. As such, specialists in page setting will be assigned to the documentation, computer specialists will be assigned to the technical tasks within the software and websites, etc. Translators occasionally may be called upon during technical steps, for example during software testing in order to verify the relevance of some translations in context.
Organising these teams is generally up to the project manager. For large-scale projects, some may be deemed responsible for a particular team (for example, a person in charge of the translators), and even other project managers.
Indeed, in "multilingual" projects, involving several linguistic teams, it is not uncommon for the project as a whole to be managed by an "International Project Manager" (IPM) under which the "Local Project Managers" (LPM) are responsible for one or several languages. The potential structurings for such projects are numerous. Thus, the international project manager might be in contact only with the LPMs managing the technical or linguistic aspects of the project. The IPM may also lead the LPMs involved only in the linguistic portion and then direct one or more technical teams, centralising the tasks for the various languages.
B. Material Resources
In some particular circumstances or due to the nature of a project itself, it may sometimes be necessary to plan for specific material resources.
Some projects require the rental or purchase of additional computers (for example, projects involving additional people), new software licences (for example, projects requiring particular software), etc. This includes multimedia projects that require a recording or editing studio to possibly be rented. Or even projects containing brand new content and requiring specific training material to be purchased.
The project manager's role will consequently be not only to determine the necessary steps and elements involved in a project, but also to analyse the project's feasability with respect to the allotted time, the allocated budget, and the available qualified human resources.