What is a Translation Management System (TMS)?

A translation management system (TMS) is a project management application that can automate and streamline your localization workflow. A typical TMS supports complex translation projects and eliminates the repetitive manual tasks typically involved in language translation.

Localization projects often involve large groups of people with team members in different countries or time zones. A TMS can help everyone work together more effectively, improving translation quality and scalability while reducing time to market.

Five Key Functions of a Translation Management Platform

Let’s take a look at the five key functions of a translation management platform.

1. Managing Terminology

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If you’re translating brand-related content at scale, a TMS can help you create localized content much faster and more efficiently. Similar to translation memory, a terminology database retains a glossary of translations, branding, and associated terms.

Terminology management ensures consistency in translated content across different countries, regions, and languages, particularly when expanding to new markets. A good TMS helps you establish a cohesive style in all languages—not just English.

2. Managing Workflow

Image: A screenshot of a translation management system

Translation management software can make your translation process more efficient by helping you oversee your workflow in real-time. With the best translation management systems, you’ll spend far less time managing files, automating processes, and facilitating communication.

For example, do you use a content management system (CMS) to publish material to your website or app? If so, a TMS can automatically grab new content and assign it to appropriate translators.

Your translation management system should also integrate with any other applications your organization relies on. Tools like Figma, Adobe XD, or Sketch should connect directly to your TMS for seamless content design in different languages. Integrations with collaboration apps like Slack can also boost communication between team members.


3. Managing Memory

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Another critical function of a TMS is maintaining a database of previously translated words and phrases. This is known as translation memory. Instead of coming up with new wording each time, you can reuse words and phrases from your repositories.

When a translator finds content that has been localized by your team before, they’ll be able to see suggestions based on past translations. Think of it like an autofill function that gets smarter every time you translate a new word, phrase, or sentence.

Translation memory can help you minimize the time spent on each translation. It will also improve your quality assurance by avoiding inconsistencies between different translations. A TMS maintains these memories centrally, which ensures a streamlined process.


4. Managing Reporting
A translation management system or TMS should have integrated reporting.

Efficient localization management is only possible with strong reporting practices. You and other stakeholders need to know how much work is completed, how much it costs, and how those figures compare to initial estimates.

With a TMS, all translation tasks are performed in a single system—no more email chains and Excel spreadsheets. This makes it easier to collect relevant data and extract important insights for business management.

You should collect as much information about your localization efforts as you do about any other campaigns. A strong translation management system will make it easy to see where your money is going and how localization is paying off in terms of revenue and engagement.


5. Managing Integrated Machine Translation (MT)

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A good TMS includes an application program interface (API) to connect to machine translation engines. Even if you don’t want to rely on machine translations entirely, computer-assisted translation tools can help your translators write accurate translations in a fraction of the time.

With API access, your development team can integrate your projects into your translation management system and fully leverage the platform’s capabilities. Your TMS should also integrate with code repositories like GitHub. The more integrations a provider offers, the easier it will be to utilize their application within your existing workflow.


Translation Management Systems Continue to Evolve

The rise of translation management systems has changed how businesses approach marketing on a global scale. With more flexible and scalable translation workflows, companies can spend more of their resources refining the quality of their translations.

Here are a few key trends and emerging technologies pushing contemporary translation services into the future.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is one of the most important technologies involved in translation. Neural machine translation (NMT) has only been in the mainstream for a few years, but it has already had a transformative impact on translation strategies. Over time, NMT tools continue to learn and refine their approach with each new input.

Google has been a leader in neural machine translation since the release of its NMT platform in 2016. A contemporary study found that Google’s Neural Machine Translation reduces translation errors by an average of 60%.

Audiovisual Translations

Translating from text to text is one thing, but translating audiovisual content can be far more complicated. Modern translation management systems facilitate the localization of all types of content.

Audiovisual translation includes subtitles, dubbing, or other methods like a translator’s voice overlaid on top of the original video. When targeting an audience with another language and culture, you need to consider a broader localization process that goes beyond the scope of basic text translation.

Increased Efficiency

Translation services are always trying to offer faster and more accurate translations. As technology advances, machine translations will become more reliable. However, we’re still years away from machine translation tools that can fully replace the expertise of a skilled human translator.

While real-time machine translation may have seemed like science fiction a few years ago, it’s now widely available through Skype and other consumer software. Skype’s voice translator offers real-time translation in eleven different languages and dialects: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, American and British English, and Simplified and Traditional Chinese.

Cloud-Based Translation Platforms

Translation software depends on a vast database of corresponding words and phrases in different languages. Cloud technology helps teams leverage large amounts of storage without the added costs of onsite infrastructure.

Although cloud translation isn’t taking the place of human translators anytime soon, a cloud-based database working alongside a machine translation tool will make things much easier for your translation team.

Why Choose Localize as Your Translation Management System?

If you’re considering localization, think about investing in a good TMS.

Localize is a translation management system (TMS) that simplifies your workflow and localization process with powerful features like glossaries, style guides, automatic content detection, and more. We’ve helped over 700 companies localize their websites, software, and mobile apps for a global market.

Contact the team at Localize to start building a successful localization strategy today.

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