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Oct 2, 2012

Update on the OTM integration with SDL Trados Studio

Since I learned earlier this year about plans to integrate LSP.net's Online Translation Manager (OTM) - the workflow solution I use for secure data transmission in my projects - and SDL Trados Studio I have kept track of the progress of this effort with some interest and satisfaction. Although it is unlikely to be of immediate benefit to me, an occasional user of SDL Trados desktop applications, I have followed the combinations of business process tools with their translation implementation counterparts for many years, and this seems to be one of the few efforts that really deserves the label "integration". Too often that word is used to describe reading a text file with an analysis of files and applying a scoping grid to ensure that one's profits remain suitably modest or non-existent.

When I contacted OTM's architect this week to get the latest news before heading to Warsaw for the translation management conference, he described the development and testing over the past month and the probable completion of the middleware component next week. By the end of October, the OTM workflow system should have a new range of features to complement the Trados workflows for analyzing and testing the viability of files for translation processes, applying customer-specific weighting tables to matches and more.

The release of the new version of OTM and the SDL Trados integration features is expected in November after testing with a pilot group is completed. Given the good record of LSP.net for releasing stable versions of its software over the past three years, I expect a well-tuned, useful advance of functionality. The integration will be available for testing and use free of charge for some months in its rollout phase to ensure that potential users have every opportunity to master its application to their business processes. Several licensing models are being considered afterward to allow users flexibility.

Contact LSP.net for further details on this product. When the test phase is completed, I hope to interview some of the current group of companies working with this solution and find out the best and the worst of its implementation.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Kevin,
    thank you for the effort of promoting OTM. You seem to be quite deep into it.
    After comparing and testing many ERP, CRM, bookkeeping, invoicing and other desperately needed functions, the functionality on the feature list sounds pretty complete and attractive. Alone the visual appearance is one of the poorest I have ever seen for a long time. It looks like a SAP implementation from another century and is everything but appealing. Agreed that forced process flows do not need to be look nice, but a more intuitiv visual approach would be a nice touch.
    Even if I bite that bullet as a freelancer, there is one incredible gap regarding planning capability. I have been a project manager in another life and think OTM is lightyears away from any project management tool. Maybe I only have not found it in the limited documentation that is publicly available apart from some videos: How can I easily shuffle around projects or jobs without defined deadlines? If I want to squeeze in a certain customer by postponing or pulling forward another (or several jobs) to free capacity, how would I do that without deep diving in tables and tax declaration style fields. Is there any Gantt style or at least a primitive visual excel style or calendar view with accepted or planned projects/jobs that allow me easily to find a free slot for an urgent customer request?
    For a freelancer who is not fully booked, there is no desperate need for a planning tool in the first place but a full order book cannot not be managed without. And that is what I would expect from a professional all-inclusive tool. I just cannot find a single hint about it regarding OTM. Any idea how to handle this with OTM? Without that OTM is only another vehicle to juggle documents around.
    Kind regards,
    Tom

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  2. Tom, I would encourage you to talk to the support staff at LSP.net about these questions. OTM in its current implementation is really optimized for running an agency, and I think better attention has been paid to some of the aspects for that, particularly for a number of legal and tax issues which are often not handled cleanly in other tools. I'm not sure where you get the idea you'll be deep-diving in any sorts of tables - perhaps this is one of your R/3 flashbacks ;-)

    As a freelancer I use OTM for very specific reasons which I've discussed before, though I have sometimes wished for shortcuts on certain processes which aren't relevant to my work. There are future plans I'm aware of with a professional association which will likely result in a streamlined tool more obviously suited to typical needs of an individual freelancer. I started using OTM originally when I was part of a busy partnership, and it was and remains the most reasonable and cost-effective option I have seen to handle all the logistical and administrative difficulties I faced at that time.

    As for the user interface, well... there are reasons that Apple's Human Interface Guidelines were not written in Germany years ago :-) I suffered enough with SAP R/3 years ago to think that comparison is hardly appropriate, but I have seen a positive evolution of many interface elements in the past three years. Sometimes little things like changing the shade of tabs in the middle of a page (a design element that drove me a bit nuts initially, because it is a bit unusual) can make a big difference. I've found the developers open to good ideas for a number of interface suggestions though not everything, because there are quite a few things that have practical reasoning which is not really apparent to me at first because I work on a different scale than an agency. Sometimes, though, when they do get around to handling something that bugged me, the solution is much better than what I envisioned.

    One thing though that I really have learned to appreciate in nearly three years of use: in all that time I have encountered astoundingly few bugs. Absolutely nothing that screwed up a project. Given the grief I have experienced in recent months with other software in my routine or what I have known from 12 years of work with Trados, that is really quite remarkable. Mind you, my workflows as a freelancer hardly cover the full range of the program's function, but other translation project management software I used to use or tried to, such as Project ]open[, LTC Organiser or TO 3000 managed to screw me up pretty good from time to time. There's a lot to be said for simple stability.

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