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Working with agencies portals, vendor portals, supplier's net etc.
Thread poster: Davor Ivic

Flemming Larsen  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:25
Member (2011)
English to Danish
+ ...
It's all business, competition, supply and demand Mar 6, 2017

I agree that it would be nice to have a more personal relationship with clients and not these impersonal and sometimes intimidating portals but that's life in the business world, especially big business. To stay competitive, they have to keep coming up with creative ways to reduce manual correspondence by project managers.

What should change is the standards and although I don't know enough about what is going on in translators' associations and committees around the world, it seems
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I agree that it would be nice to have a more personal relationship with clients and not these impersonal and sometimes intimidating portals but that's life in the business world, especially big business. To stay competitive, they have to keep coming up with creative ways to reduce manual correspondence by project managers.

What should change is the standards and although I don't know enough about what is going on in translators' associations and committees around the world, it seems that we don't have enough influence on the agencies and corporations to make life easier for us. Each agency has its own system and it becomes really complicated for translators to add new clients to their portfolio. Keeping track of a host of different job boards and auction systems, upload/download features, terminology management systems, invoicing portals and e-mail addresses, plus keeping track of all the logins and password that frequently have to be updated, takes an inordinate amount of time and adds stress and frustration to the process. We already have to support too many translation tools.

So support your organizations and encourage them to work for better conditions and standards for translators. And tell your clients if their systems are too cumbersome. If enough of us speak up, it might make a difference!
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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Platforms Mar 6, 2017

Well, by the same token we can say email communication is too considered administrative task and we should charge for it. I don’t this this will stand.

Vendor platforms haven’t been an issue for me. Most of the time you agree on the project via email and downloading/uploading using the platform is just a formality that helps our clients run their business. Bear in mind that they do not have 10 or 15 clients. Rather, they have hundreds of clients and service providers.
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Well, by the same token we can say email communication is too considered administrative task and we should charge for it. I don’t this this will stand.

Vendor platforms haven’t been an issue for me. Most of the time you agree on the project via email and downloading/uploading using the platform is just a formality that helps our clients run their business. Bear in mind that they do not have 10 or 15 clients. Rather, they have hundreds of clients and service providers.

Clients asking us to use their CAT tools is a different story.
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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:25
Member (2018)
French to English
"dehumanisation" dynamic Mar 6, 2017

Merab Dekano wrote:

Well, by the same token we can say email communication is too considered administrative task and we should charge for it. I don’t this this will stand.

Vendor platforms haven’t been an issue for me. Most of the time you agree on the project via email and downloading/uploading using the platform is just a formality that helps our clients run their business. Bear in mind that they do not have 10 or 15 clients. Rather, they have hundreds of clients and service providers.


e-mail made things easier compared to sending floppy disks by post or faxing translations. Now portals are making it more complicated again.

If an agency has a hundred service providers, they should ensure that it's easy for them to download and upload files, that the system is flexible enough to cater to all needs, whatever country the service provider might be in. When we waste time trying to get past their passwords and proving that we're not robots and processing endless notifications and filling in schedules to show availability and filling in forms with the same information as on our business cards, in our e-mail signatures, on our websites and Proz profiles, re-configuring stuff so we can read it on our phones as well and goodness knows what else, that's not efficient. These portals have been designed for their comfort not ours, but it's only common courtesy to take our needs into consideration too surely?

One agency I used to work with introduced Plunet and I wasted about half an hour trying to download a file. In the end I said I would only work with them if we could bypass Plunet and just use e-mail as usual. I didn't get so much work from them after that. I've now stopped completely, for reasons that are unrelated but which are part of the same "dehumanisation" dynamic.


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:25
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Til minne om
It all depends Mar 6, 2017

Some agency's platforms are straightforward and easy to use and that's fine with me.
However, as others have said here, some are diabolical, user-hostile and absurdly time-consuming.
One pleasant agency I used to work for occasionally decided to introduce one of these platforms of the devilish kind which they insisted translators MUST use or their invoices wouldn't be accepted. The system was flawed and the PMs themselves were unable to explain how to use it. One of its most intrigui
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Some agency's platforms are straightforward and easy to use and that's fine with me.
However, as others have said here, some are diabolical, user-hostile and absurdly time-consuming.
One pleasant agency I used to work for occasionally decided to introduce one of these platforms of the devilish kind which they insisted translators MUST use or their invoices wouldn't be accepted. The system was flawed and the PMs themselves were unable to explain how to use it. One of its most intriguing features was that a new password was assigned to the translator for each job, without which the platform couldn't be viewed, and THE PASSWORD EXPIRED IF IT WAS NOT USED WITHIN HALF AN HOUR. Why, for heaven's sake?
It took far longer to send a small translation and modest invoice than the translation itself had taken to do.
I no longer work for that agency. A pity because they were good in all other ways. I suppose they had paid some tecchie to devise a system for them and were damn' well going to get their money's worth. Silly people ...
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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:25
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Exactly! Mar 6, 2017

Jenny Forbes wrote:

...some are ... absurdly time-consuming.
...


Exactly! This is what originated the topic in the first place, I believe.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:25
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
What's so great? Mar 7, 2017

Vi Pukite wrote:

... I get payment in 30 days.

Brilliant!

It's great for both translator and agency. I cannot fathom why all agencies don't use this system.


Great for the agency. Not so great for you.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:25
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
It is about the money Mar 7, 2017

GermanLaw1 wrote:

.....

I fully agree with Agnes Lenkey that feeling appreciated is an important factor for being happy with your work, it's not just about money.


It's always about the money, for agencies and translators, at least for me it is because I have to have adequate income. But it must be fair money. Usually the more administrative hoops and platforms you have to jump through/on, the less they pay and the longer it takes to get paid = the more resistant those agencies are to paying on delivery. Unfortunately, there are too many translators who work for rates that are not at all commensurate with what we do intellectually, and the waiting time they accept for getting paid is ridiculous.
But I am just mentioning it for those who are not aware that there is a better way.

GermanLaw1 wrote:
I also work for one vendor who does not have a sophisticated platform, but live PMs who actually correspond with me. They ask me nicely whether I would be willing to help them out with a job, they thank me when the job is done and once in a while they even tell me how much they appreciate my work. I love working for them and accept jobs at lower rates than I usually do.


I am sure they love paying low rates. A little friendliness seems to go a long way.

[Edited at 2017-03-07 04:42 GMT]


 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:25
Member (2014)
English to German
Admin Mar 7, 2017

GermanLaw1 wrote:
I also work for one vendor who does not have a sophisticated platform, but live PMs who actually correspond with me. They ask me nicely whether I would be willing to help them out with a job, they thank me when the job is done and once in a while they even tell me how much they appreciate my work. I love working for them and accept jobs at lower rates than I usually do.


I have to agree, no! Let's put it that way, politeness and courtesy is something I expect generally. I am aware, that most PMs probably have nothing to do with a system that doesn't work for translators and try to be nice to get things done, but I feel that translators should also have an eye on how they spend their time, and point things out, otherwise PMs can't feed back to who ever can make changes to their system. Then again, I am not sure all would care as long as there are plenty of translators willing to do their admin.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:25
Member (2018)
French to English
PMs don't give feedback Mar 7, 2017

Gabriele Demuth wrote:

I have to agree, no! Let's put it that way, politeness and courtesy is something I expect generally. I am aware, that most PMs probably have nothing to do with a system that doesn't work for translators and try to be nice to get things done, but I feel that translators should also have an eye on how they spend their time, and point things out, otherwise PMs can't feed back to who ever can make changes to their system. Then again, I am not sure all would care as long as there are plenty of translators willing to do their admin.


In the agency I mentioned, there used to be a team of PMs I got on well with, who listened to any concerns I might have and willingly contacted the client if there was an issue with the text to be translated. These were gradually replaced last year, and their replacements didn't last long: I concluded that the company was now being run by interns (correctly as it turns out, according to a former PM I'm friends with on FB). They simply repeat the instructions instead of looking properly into an issue I have flagged, won't contact the client... so I doubt they would bother giving translator feedback about their interface to their boss.


 

Vi Pukite  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:25
Member (2009)
Latvian to English
+ ...
@Bernhard Sulzer Mar 7, 2017

Why do you think it's not great for me? This company pays excellent rates, pays on time every time, their PO functions as an invoice, I don't have to do anything but translate.

 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:25
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Regarding brilliance Mar 8, 2017

Vi Pukite wrote:

Why do you think it's not great for me? This company pays excellent rates, pays on time every time, their PO functions as an invoice, I don't have to do anything but translate.


There is no rule that says you have to wait 30 days to get paid or agree to their invoice system. But the more you agree to, the more likely it is that the agency will also expect you to agree to changes they make in the future.

It's up to you to define your terms. So if you want to wait 30 days, the advantage of that arrangement clearly lies with the agency.

It's still excessive. Often, you are expected to provide a translation at very quick turnaround times or you work hard on it for a long time, and then you wait 30 days to get paid?! I don't.

Although quite a few years ago, I accepted this 30-day "condition" from one or two outsourcers, I don't anymore. I sell a service over the Internet. Direct clients usually pay up front, agencies that I agree to work with get a grace period of 7-15 days, depending on various factors (but other terms such as down or partial payments might apply), but I appreciate payment on delivery. I do sometimes give small incentives to agencies for paying on delivery which makes it easier for them. My experience has been that those agencies that pay quickly are also those who are willing and able to pay fair rates. Also, most agencies that insist on 30 days will not pay before that. Times are getting tougher in our business. Agencies that feel they have to compete with cheap players will get ever more desperate. I rather work with excellent agencies that are helping me deliver a great service/product to their clients for an adequate price. That word - adequate price - has been forgotten by many in this "industry." But it is still honored by professionals. Today, there is a clear divide between cheap and adequate. It will only get wider. .... So, my definition of brilliance is different from yours.

[Edited at 2017-03-08 03:29 GMT]


 

Katrin Braams  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:25
Member (2018)
English to German
+ ...
30 days is absolutely ok Mar 8, 2017

30 days payment term is standard in B2B. VW, Siemens or Daimler do not have any shorter payment terms for their suppliers. Also, if I receive a steady flow of work from a vendor and they pay me in 30 day intervals it is just as good as being employed by the company. As long as the payment is on time, it's fine with me. However, the non oder late payers are a nuisance.

 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:25
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Not okay with me Mar 9, 2017

GermanLaw1 wrote:

30 days payment term is standard in B2B. VW, Siemens or Daimler do not have any shorter payment terms for their suppliers. Also, if I receive a steady flow of work from a vendor and they pay me in 30 day intervals it is just as good as being employed by the company. As long as the payment is on time, it's fine with me. However, the non oder late payers are a nuisance.


Couple of reasons:
http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/277579-why_risk_non_payment-page2.html#2365100


 
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