When interacting with a LSP agency, there are a few measures which are commonly recommended and which better allow the agency and the freelancing partner to do business. With this article, I aim to provide 10 tips regarding how we can better interact with our partners and what we recommend you to do should you wish to embark on our language service providing journey.
But first things first. You need to start by approaching SMARTIDIOM regarding a possible cooperation:
- Present yourself.
SMARTIDIOM has a Vendor Manager who runs all applications from freelancing partners. If you’re looking to work with us, the first thing you should try to do is knowing how to contact our Vendor Manager. If you’re unsure about how to reach him, give us a call and ask us for his contact. It will be easier for us to give you the contact details and quickly put you on the right track.
With the right address in hand, your next step will be to gather all the right information in order to apply. Remember the main skills an agency will be looking for at first glance (other skills are valued, but they will be built during the professional relationship): language combinations, specializations, software you use and your rates for the services provided – these should be in the e-mail – accompanied by a CV, which can provide us further details, like where you live, country of origin, contact details, past experience and/or years of experience, etc. As of 2016, each applicant must also submit a copy of his/her University diploma or other proof of Higher Education in Translation.
After this step, we ask to wait for our Vendor Manager’s reply. We receive dozens of applications daily and it takes some time to go through all these applications, especially considering some will take priority over others. Regardless, we strive to provide an answer to everyone, even if we may not be able to welcome you at the moment. If you do not receive a reply within the following days, please don’t resend your e-mail as a first option. Give us a call and ask us if we’ve received your e-mail. It may very well be that our Vendor Manager has not had the opportunity to go through it, but he might already have it prepared for processing.
This is the procedure we’d like you to take, but naturally, you can always take the easy path: send an application to firstname.lastname@example.org and wait for our Vendor Manager’s follow-up.
After you get our Vendor Manager’s reply, he will surely ask all further information we may require from you so that we can create a clear picture of how you may help us. Then, you will be asked to perform a translation test.
- Tests, NDAs and Forms.
The test consists of small word files you can work on. These will provide us with some basic information regarding your knowledge of specific terminology and your ability to research. Your translation test will be reviewed by one of our native partners and feedback will be provided to you. Assuming everything will be as expected, you will then be asked to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement and a Form, which will include a summary of your specializations, language pairs, services and rates. This will make it easier for our PMs to find you and it will allow us to easily verify your data.
Once everything is concluded, you will be eligible for projects and our PMs may pick you for tasks, but keep in mind that recently signed partnerships are highlighted as candidates, which means you will work your way up when it comes to building a relationship with our PMs. This also means that even if you may start with a slower pace of projects received, it is likely that this will increase once you are established as a specialist within our system.
This, of course, is up to you and the relationship you build with the team!
After becoming one of our freelancing partners, continuous communication is important for both of us. These are some of the things we expect you to do:
- Inform us about absences and vacation periods.
It is very important for us to know when our partners will be absent. Having this information at hand will save us time, since Project Managers can easily see within the management system if a specific partner is unavailable, thus being able to quickly pick another option. Even if you may not be getting regular work from us, we may win an account which may match your language pairs and specializations, so it is still very important that you do so.
As soon as you know your scheduled vacation periods and other absences, contact our Vendor Manager and let him know when we can or can’t count on you.
I’m very sure you’re not just sitting behind the desk waiting for an e-mail to pop up! Translators invest quite an amount of time and money on training, education and tools, so if you’re doing it, why do we know nothing about it?
- Keep us updated.
Have you acquired training on another software? Did you buy a license for a CAT tool? Do you now feel confident with another specialization? Let us know! At SMARTIDIOM we value our people’s training and we expect our partners to do the same. Surely, you acquire skills and know-how throughout the year, so when you feel you may have developed a new set of skills which may be useful for us, keep us informed. We just might not be sending you work for a specific subject for not knowing you feel confident with it.
One of the worst situations in which a Project Manager doesn’t want to find himself/herself, and one of the things that can easily deteriorate a Project Manager’s confidence in a partner, is renegotiating rates after a project is prepared. Unless there are specific requirements that justify amending rates, please do the following as a rule of thumb.
- Do not renegotiate rates with PMs.
You are obviously in command of your rates and your business. When working with SMARTIDIOM, rates are arranged at the start of our cooperation and we expect our partners to honor the agreements. More so, we run our business based on the rates which are negotiated directly with you and which will allow us both to feel confident when doing business. For this reason, we strongly request that you renegotiate rates directly with our Vendor Manager after specifically asking him to go through these conditions at a given time.
More specifically, we ask you not to renegotiate directly with the Project Manager when he/she contacts you for a task under the currently negotiated terms. This will obviously affect the project at hand and will make the Project Manager less willing to contact you again.
Renegotiating directly with the Vendor Manager will allow everyone to be updated on your new rates and conditions beforehand. It’s a win-win situation!
We believe this is the part you like the most:
- Submit your invoices with the correct invoicing data.
Are you receiving work from us? Great! Oh! And thank you for helping out! As you surely know, it is mandatory that you are able to invoice your work so that we may be able to pay you in return.
When invoicing SMARTIDIOM projects, please remember to check the PO we sent you. SMARTIDIOM currently has three offices in Leiria, Porto and Lisbon. The three offices have different billing information, so you need to invoice them separately. Although SMARTIDIOM shares resources between offices, such as the partners we work with (that’s why you only need to apply once to be eligible for working with the three locations), financial details still need to be processed separately.
How is your CAT tools proficiency? Do you trust them or would you rather open your dictionaries and take notes? We firmly believe in the help CAT tools provide if applied appropriately, so here’s what we expect…
- Do use CAT tools.
Our projects usually require that you use a CAT tool, whether that is Studio, MemoQ, Wordfast or any other. It is, therefore, essential that you mention which CAT tool licenses you have (as previously mentioned in this article) and how confident you are with those tools.
We are aware that licenses are a burden for our freelancing partners, but these are the fundamental tools with which we work. After all, we don’t expect the painter to ask us where the brush is! Regardless, there are a few tips on purchasing licenses. Stay alert for discounts and promotions. If you are a member of an organization, ask them if members have discounts on purchases of CAT tools. There are also ways to join a group buy. Usually, buying a license suite with a group of 2 or 3 other freelancing colleagues will allow you to have access to a significant price reduction.
You know that time when you’re unsure about something, but you’re afraid the question might sound silly and you’re inclined to go with your instinct on the matter? Here’s what we suggest you to do…
- Do ask us questions.
Not having queries isn’t always a good sign.
Truth be told, more often than not, having queries is a good sign; it means you are committed to finding the right equivalent. Having doubts means you are truly trying to correctly interpret the source’s phrasing. Just between us… (please read silently!) We know how often source texts are ambiguous or inaccurate! If you are unsure about something, contact the Project Manager. Ask him/her if he/she has more details to add or if there are other references to work with. If necessary, ask the Project Manager how or when the client can be contacted in order to clarify possible issues.
The last thing the Project Manager expects is a delivery with the note: “I was unsure regarding this or that”. This may very well leave us with no time to make corrections, if needed, or even confirm if your interpretation was correct.
Exchanging e-mails is quite impersonal and in many cases we can’t put a face or a voice to an e-mail address, so even though we are usually very busy (hopefully Management is reading this article!), you can contact us through different channels. Save us from continuous e-mails and detached communication! Drama aside, here’s a tip on how to reach us…
- Assure a quick contact.
Still with queries in mind, but in fact this can be applied to multiple situations, if you need to contact the Project Manager quickly, give us a call or add our contact details at Skype.
There are times when you may need to quickly confirm an instruction or you’re unsure about what the task really is. If it is something you feel it may take a few e-mails going back and forward, use one of the other available channels.
Everyone at SMARTIDIOM has a specific Skype profile and a mobile phone number you can directly contact. There is also the office’s phone number if you’d rather contact this line. You can even reach out at Skype and ask the PM to give you a call. We will be more than happy to help and, you know, a voice on the other side of the line is sometimes a good change of pace! You can find this information on your PM’s signature within the e-mail.
Did I mention one of the worst nightmares for a Project Manager before? Well, this is the worst!
- Always respect deadlines.
It can’t get any worse than watching time slowly going past deadline and no e-mails, no phone calls, nothing…! We are perfectly aware that you may come across an unfortunate event which will keep you from delivering your project within the proposed deadline but, if this happens, we expect you to as, quickly as possible, contact your PM and to do your best to minimize the impact on quality and timeliness.
It surely goes without saying that we also expect unfortunate events to not happen on a continuous basis. Remember we are here to help you when you need it and we are very much relying on your help as well.
I remember when touchscreen smartphones came out. It took me a few months to try one and quite a few months more to actually finally buy one. It just didn’t feel right at first. I believe this is a common reaction to new technologies and software, and I suppose this can relate to the next point…
- Take advantage of our management system.
In order to improve productivity and the quality of our services, while also making your interaction with us easier, SMARTIDIOM relies on a management system which automates many of our daily tasks.
This makes all our daily tasks a lot easier, from budgeting to project management, all the way to billing and marketing activities, we can rely on one system to get us through the hard times. You may wonder why this has got anything to do with you and why you need to use the system in order to work with us… Well, actually, it is always up to you, but we do take preference for our freelancing partners who are willing to work with the system.
With it, we are able to easily see if you’re available, we can send you a project in a matter of clicks and it becomes an automated process for you to take on our jobs. It’s about not needing to send numerous e-mails back and forward. We know changes aren’t always welcomed at first and we know that we are not your only client, so having different account logins isn’t particularly great, but with everything summed up, isn’t it timesaving to click a button to accept a job and upload it back again without e-mails and phone calls? You can also invoice us through the system, gather your POs and even keep track of all your records and past jobs, in case you need to confirm something later on.
Much like with us, it always takes time to fully adapt to a new software, but we are pretty sure, once you’re are comfortable with it, you will love it!
These are a few tips we’d love you to follow when doing business with us. All in all, you are a big part of SMARTIDIOM and whatever goals we may achieve, they are also goals you achieve with us. Hopefully, our growth will be continuously matched by yours, and we truly count on you for the journeys we are yet to take.
Are there any questions about a possible collaboration with SMARTIDIOM? Is there something I could elaborate on more so that you can better understand our business? Just drop me a line and I’ll be happy to clarify!