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Jul 4, 2010

New rates from LSP.net offer lower outsourcing management costs

The public beta of the Online Translation Manager (OTM) from LSP.net began in January of this year. The system had been in active use by a small network of agencies for about six years, but the transition from this group with its very specific working preferences and needs to a wider group of language service providers resulted in a number of fundamental improvements and added flexibility, particularly with regard to data input methods and customizing, a process which is ongoing, with major steps taken in this week's upgrade and another planned in about three to four weeks.

At a basic rate of 29 euros per month per PM or administrator login for access to all features of the online system, OTM is a bargain in my opinion. I do find some parts of it a bit cumbersome, and as a single translator or member of a small team, I have a somewhat different view of optimal workflow in some cases than the agencies who have used it for a long time to manage complex, multi-lingual projects, but the better I get to know the system through my cooperation with that network of companies and my workflow documentation efforts for LSP.net, the more I understand the sense and utility of some features which first seemed irrelevant or obtrusive to me, and the clearer the benefits for small offices or even busy Einzelkämpfer become. My backoffice partner is part of the original network using OTM, so I have now adopted the system to manage all my project work, and I have no regrets. Alternatives would generally cost me more and/or offer me less of what I need and want.

One variable cost which was a concern to small, active agencies working on a tight budget was the fee of 2 euros for each job which was assigned to someone other than the project manager. If the PM assigns a lot of small jobs, this was felt by some to be an excessive burden on margins despite the monthly cap of 300 euros for total costs. (That would be 135 jobs assigned - if 271 euros additional cost is too burdensome with a job volume like that, something is wrong. On the other hand, if these jobs consist of three sentence texts and I'm too timid to impose reasonable minimum charges, I suppose it could be a problem.) I followed those discussions for months with little interest, because I almost never outsource, so my total costs in a given month would never have passed 33 euros in any month since 2000. However, the company takes the concerns of its customers and other interested parties seriously, and this week unveiled a new price schedule offering a "business" package with a cost cap of 49 euros per login per month for an unlimited number of assigned jobs. Details can be read here. (Access to the system is free of charge for customers to submit quote requests or download jobs, invoice copies, etc. or for service providers to whom work is assigned.)

For a complete management system for translation workflows, internal and external service providers, files, financial records, etc. with secure uploads and deliveries and access anywhere via the Internet, 29 or 49 euros per month isn't bad at all. The costs and services provided are laid out quite transparently and are easy to understand and plan for.

I appreciate this transparency, because I have experienced quite the opposite with some well-known alternatives for SaaS or intranet solutions, including the Open Source software Project ]open[ Translation, which is "free" but basically impossible to get configured completely without hiring the consultants who created it. The Project ]open[ Translation documentation sucks, and the database and web programming seem particularly vulnerable to unintentional monkeywrenching. On the site for another well-known solution, if one follows the "How to Buy" link there isn't the least bit of price information that I can find. If I were to pursue that by contacting the company, dealing with the sales dance and so forth, I will have wasted enough time to pay a year's fees or more for OTM. So for now, I think I'll stick to a simple, honest system that works, lets me check my project status and inquiries from anywhere, and if I ever go completely nuts and start subcontracting like crazy (ain't gonna happen, so hold those unsolicited applications, please), my costs won't break 50 euros per month. I can buy that.


Related posts:

A customer's view of OTM

Re-sending e-mail to OTM






2 comments:

  1. Danke für diesen Bericht, Kevin. Ich glaube, ich steige bald ein. Wenn ich fertig mit der Arbeit in der Hand, schaue ich die ganze Sache genauer an.

    - Wenjer

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  2. Kevin, thank you very much for your detailed posts about OTM. My main objection about the system was the 2-euro fee per allocated job. As a team of translators, we assign jobs (internally) all the time and we would have ended up paying hundreds of euros per month under the old scheme. This new pricing model makes much more sense and I am planning to give OTM a second look very soon.

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