IN order to keep up with the fast development of the industry, many companies have started developing or purchasing their own translation management systems, or TMS. However, what is the right time to implement a TMS? How to adopt a TMS? Which TMS solution to choose? These questions are not easy to answer.

In Why You Might Need Help Selecting a TMS, Lee Densmer writes about three main reasons on why choosing a TMS is hard. An unstable TMS market makes it hard to invest in a system that can last for a long time. Too many choices can also bewilder the companies, making them spend more time and effort in searching for the perfect-fit solution. The risk for wasting budget on unnecessary features is also high when it comes to TMS. Asking yourself the following questions may help you have a clearer clue.

  1. To buy or to develop?

In Translation Management Systems: build or buy, Benjamin B. Sargent talks about four stages of technology solution development. According to him, the TMS market has entered stage C, where feature competition is well at play, and companies have plenty of off-the-shelf solutions to choose from. Generally speaking, in this stage, your newly developed self-owned TMS can hardly compete with the well-developed solutions in the market. However, before heading to the TMS supermarket to shop for one, the option of developing your own tool is still there. In the year 2017, there are still companies developing their own tool, because this tool can be customized to their use, fit their needs perfectly, and boost their efficiency in largest scale. If you do have the budget for developing, maintaining and expanding your own system, building your own TMS can be beneficial in the long run.

  1. What do you from the TMS?

As mentioned before, which so many choices on the shelf, it’s really easy to get lost and end up with spending extra money. Even if you are developing your own TMS, it’s also hard to decide which feature to include. Therefore, doing a self-assessment can be really important. In Eight Steps To A Successful TMS Roll-Out, Andrew Lawless points out some steps that can be taken in assessing your needs:

  • Finding the pain: Find out what bothers you most in your existing project management process.
  • Audit your workflows: Examine your existing workflow. Identify flaws in it and prepare it for future TMS implementation.
  • Define what can be automated: Look for the most manual and redundant steps in your project management, and think about where it’s possible to get it automated.
  • Define what needs to be managed outside the TMS: It’s important to know what you don’t need your TMS to do. Do you want to do invoicing, or documentation within the TMS?
  1. Which TMS fulfills your needs best?

Most TMS in the market can be characterized into three types:

  • Business-oriented: Focus more on the management of company or department. Offers files/projects tracking and includes invoicing/billing functions.
  • Language-oriented: Have more powerful linguistic functions like an online editor, pseudo-translation, TM and TB management.
  • Comprehensive: Have both two functions mentioned above. But can be a master-of-none.

After doing need assessment, you should be able to identify which type you are looking for. Doing some research into the existing TMS and putting them into different groups can help you eliminate a lot of bad options.

  1. Is the system compatible with your existing system?

After narrowing the list down to one category, now it’s time to get down to implementation details. What content management tools are you using on your website? What CAT tools are you using? What billing system are you using? If the TMS is not compatible with these tools, it will be a great pain when it comes to implementation.

The best solution to this problem is to give it a test drive. Choosing one small project from every workflow can give the TMS a good test in compatibility. If there are problems, it’s still not too late to troubleshoot. Running several pilot projects before real implementation starts can let you know whether you like the TMS or not.

Chooisng the right TMS needs a lot of consideration. Please make sure to take your time researching and investigating your internal needs, I’m sure the time spent will be worthwhile in the long run.