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The vendor manager: role and work with freelance translators

Every respectful and professional translation agency employs one or several specialists responsible for managing, expanding, and maintaining the freelance translator’s network within the company. In English they are called “vendor managers”. Their task is not only to establish professional relationships with translators or vendors but also to maintain these relationships to keep an active database of translators that would be large and versatile enough to allow the company to provide various services.

A Human resource specialist..

Some of the daily duties of the vendor management team is selecting freelance translators, agreeing with them on the conditions of work, helping to begin cooperation with the company, assessing quality and working as an intermediary between freelance translators and other employees of the office, e.g., translation project managers. Vendor managers must be able to carefully select editors and translators from all around the world, aligning their skills with the specific tasks in the most efficient manner. This person must be a quick decision maker, able to solve problems and establish relations. People with wide knowledge about the translation industry and ability to understand unique needs of each client are the best option for this position.

..Quality manager

A vendor manager devotes a lot of time in searching for qualified translators, agreeing on prices and rates, verifying whether translators fulfill their obligations, assigning test translations and assessing the quality. Sometimes knowing that the company will have a lot of clients from a certain country, makes it necessary to quickly find translators who can provide a certain language pair and/or have experience in a specific field. It is called “active recruitment” when the vendor manager, for example, approaches Greek language translators with experience in translating cosmetics texts. Also, there is “passive recruitment” when the vendor manager looks for new talent to be added to the data base.

And psychologist all rolled into one person

Vendor managers can search for these specialists both with the help of advertising on the agency website or proactively using sites like LinkedIn or ProZ. Also, vendor managers must be mini psychologists and good at reading people, quickly identifying qualified candidates, and understanding the roles and tasks in which they are most successful. To determine this, the right questions have to be asked: clarify the language pairs offered and any specialist areas, ask about previous work experience and other things that should be included in the data base such as translators who not only the required education have, but are also motivated and willing to work, thus saving the client’s and project manager’s time. It is important to request examples of previous translations to immediately assess the experience of the translator. The same importance is placed on the communication skills, accuracy, responsibility, flexibility, and other personal traits. Translators work all around the world and reside in different countries, so a vendor manager also must be aware of various cultural differences, time zones, and specifics of communication.

Recommending the most suitable translators for each project

Vendor managers can use the information they have about the available freelance translators to recommend which translators are more suitable for specific projects. To translate marketing texts, you need a translator not only with excellent language skills but also with the ability to provide a creative and engaging content, to localize a website opt for a specialist who has a great command of the terms used in the specific field – so there are many aspects to consider when choosing the translator who is the most suitable for each project.

Working with vendors

When translators are recruited, a vendor manager must ensure that their on-boarding process is smooth and fuss free because different agencies have different invoicing, reporting, job submitting and approval systems. During the working relationship, the vendor manager must follow the quality of the translator’s work, their availability, capacity, and any changes in these parameters, taking into consideration also the recommendations and needs of freelance translators.

A master in managing a network of freelance translators..

Vendor managers must update the translator database on regularly basis, for example, every six months. They will send out survey e-mails to the translators with an invitation to update their information, experience, and certification. Maybe someone has learnt new skills during this time and currently can provide not only translation but also editing or working with the optimization of websites? Maybe a translator has acquired a master’s degree or even PhD in linguistics? Or some award in the industry? This updated information can make the translation agency more appealing to the client, offering the best specialists for specific projects.

Increasing it..

Of course, it is important to add new translators to the database. Here we see a certain challenge as on a daily basis project managers enjoy working with certain, tried, and tested translators that comply with the deadlines, provide the needed quality etc., and they are reluctant at assigning new jobs to the translators who have recently become part of the pool. The involvement of the vendor manager is important here to secure use of new talents and avoid the situation when at times of high workload, all regularly used translators are busy, but others are not interested in cooperating with the specific agency anymore.

And motivating active translators

Involvement and motivation must be maintained in active translators who work with the company regularly. Vendor managers can provide contribution in this area as well. Frequently translation agencies forget that vendors need to be motivated. Although they are not full-time employees of the company, many of them are loyal and have been working with the specific agency for several years already; therefore, paying an invoice on time is not enough. As freelance translators mainly work behind the scenes, away from the spotlight, sometimes their contribution in the success of the project is overlooked. Freelance translators appreciate when their work is recognized. Engaging communication, greetings during festivities, explanatory information, internal communication, newsletters developed specially for the translators, events or special workshops organised and provided by the vendor manager can be important.

Working with the vendors is very important in maintaining the growth of the translation agency as these are talents the agency could not exist without. Language specialists are the epicenter of the translation process, best allies of the company and a success factor in the translation industry. Vendor managers must be able to find freelance translators and editors who are the best match for the specialization, culture, and course of the company. They also need to ensure that these vendors remain loyal to the company, caring for their motivation and that the new specialists remain eager to work with this translation agency. We have competent and experienced vendor managers at Linearis who can find the most suitable translators or other language services experts for each project. Contact us and we will recommend the best professionals to you!