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Nov 4, 2014

SOLISTA - the individual language service management solution you've been waiting for!


For nearly five years, I have been involved in the testing and localization of a project and business management solution for translation agencies and outsourcing corporate departments - the Online Translation Manager (OTM), which is available from LSP.net on the software as a service (SaaS) model as well as for on-site installations in special cases.

I use the service myself, although up to now I have not operated a translation agency in any sense and I seldom outsource work of any kind. I do so because it
  • makes sense for me to use the solution so I can do a better job of English localization,
  • provides me with several options for secure, encrypted receipt and deliveries of jobs from clients, 
  • is fanatically correct and compliant with all the myriad legal requirements for my business in the EU, and
  • it saves me a lot of time and grief when I use it for the entire course of a project.
But OTM has its downsides. For many freelancers, it would be like hunting sparrows with a Gatling gun. And there are many features which are not actually relevant to my freelance business and annoy the Hell out of me because I can't circumvent them.

All that is about to change. LSP.net recently announced the development of a "personal edition of OTM, designed especially for individual freelance service providers" - SOLISTA. It will reduce the burdens of administrative routines and free your time and energy for better and/or more profitable use of time while providing a legal security and compliance with tax requirements, etc. that no other freelance language service management solution can. I have argued with the developers for five years now that this is needed and when they came to the same conclusion, they managed to show me a product vision well beyond what I had hoped for. I am excited.

The product is now in its final stage of specifications planning, and the development team is eager for feedback to ensure that the initial release will meet the needs of a broad range of translators, interpreters, editors and other language specialists in the best way possible. 

So LSP.net is currently conducting a survey in three of the 30 interface languages planned for the release and welcomes your thoughts and guidance on what you need to handle the administration of your business more effectively. Please take a little time (5 to 10 minutes estimated) to ensure that they get it right the first time with the survey in

English: http://lsp.net/en-otm-solista.html



The software will runs on a web browser and provide the following benefits among others:
  • 50% less administrative effort with integration of scheduling, project management, accounting et alia
  • use of CAT tool analyses to prepare quotations and invoices
  • quotations and invoices in 34 currencies (at ECB exchange rates)
  • multilingual communication with clients and colleagues
  • effective online marketing of your services
  • data transfer and backup on secure servers in Germany (not in the Cloud!)
Other interesting, special features will be provided for members of professional associations (SOLISTA Plus). But I can't talk about that now....

7 comments:

  1. I know LSP.net and their platform. In fact, I did a couple of jobs for a German LSP that uses OTM and I agree that it is a great platform. Good news that they are finally planning to offer a solution to freelancers and members of professional associations. (Y)

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  2. [I posted a comment a few days ago, but it never made it through for some reason. Will try again.]

    I think the name they chose (Solista) is a little strange given that there already exists a similar tool (albeit not web-based) called ‘Solito’. Solito is the version of Translator’s Office Manager (TOM) for freelancers.

    See: http://www.jovo-soft.de/en/

    I will definitely be trying it though, as I am not 100% happy with TO3000, which is what I currently use.

    Michael

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    1. I interpret the name as the German development team's acknowledgment of the cultural superiority of the Portuguese language ;-) Seriously though, I doubt they are even aware of the name of the TOM edition, as even the higher versions of that rather awkward Filemaker-based solution aren't really of interest to the OTM agency clientele. It's not unusual that two companies might choose similar names in different languages for essentially the same target group in the same was that so many companies have business names which include "-ling-", "-word-", "-trad-" and other common elements.

      As for other solutions, I don't think "happiness" is a big part of the useful vocabulary. You might be very happy with something that gives you a very dangerous exposure to legal difficulties and/or unfavorable tax audits. TO3000 is a nice tool, but it is one which today - particularly in the EU - requires a great deal of additional knowledge and adaptation to deal with the necessary wording for reverse charge taxation and other matters. I can't say I am "happy" with OTM; if I were I would not have pushed so hard for so long for what is now called "Solista". In the meantime though I actually tried to downgrade to the use of other tools a few time and I found none which gave me the sure knowledge that my concerns about secure deliveries, VAT, audit standards compliance, etc. were properly addressed. But I've seen agencies for which the product was a perfect fit walk away from it because they could not send HTML e-mail with their logo. (As you are probably aware, these can contain script viruses and pose a risk to clients and partners, so the OTM system architect, a candidate for chief mullah in the Taliban of data security if there ever were one, refuses to allow this potential for virus propagation through the system.) Everyone has their own priorities, and mine are based on a history of troubles with other means of managing my workflow. Much of the time things will go OK with any tool. It's the unusual cases - the lost e-mail, the new client in another country, the provision of information lost by a client and urgently needed again - that remind me I need something more for the professional service I aspire to.

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  3. This sounds really interesting! I have tried Translation Office 3000 and it seems pretty good by all accounts. LSP.net's platform does look better, but there are a lot of features I wouldn't need and it is too expensive for me. Have they given you any indication of what sort of date they have in mind for a release for Solista, as if it's not too far off I will probably wait for that rather than settling for something like TO3000...

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    1. One very important thing to keep in mind, Rob: legal compliance. The shipping configuration of TO3000 is not legally compliant in many cases with invoice regulations for the EU and requires heavy customization. In my case, there is also the consideration of the "green receipt" rules in Portugal - certification of invoices by the government tax authorities. AFAIK, today Plunet is the only workflow tool for translation businesses which complies with Portuguese law, soon to be followed by OTM/Solista.

      Solista will be released this year. I would have to ask LSP.net what the current plan for that is; I know there is a big OTM update due soon which is eating resources, so the schedule may be slightly later than anticipated last year. The connection with a technician in the Ministry of Finance in Portugal was finally made this week (after two years of effort on my part to sort that out and a lot of help from friends), and I don't really know how much time needs to be invested in that part of the specification. I do know that every time I hear a planning update it sounds better and better. The best part has not even been mentioned publicly yet.... (Full disclosure: as I have mentioned elsewhere, I have been associated with LSP.net in various roles since 2010 and do updates of the OTM English interface.)

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    2. By "legal compliance I mean a lot of annoying little things, like automatically applying the relevant reverse charge taxation notices or related verbiage for all the EU countries.

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  4. Hi Kevin. Thanks for letting me know. I don't have many clients, so although it is an extra step to tweak invoices to make them compliant (Austria is a case in point for me here), it doesn't take up a lot of my time. That said, I do have to say that I find myself encouraged by the attention to detail that seems to be in evidence on the pages for the LSP.net product and it's always nice to see a development company asking their customers for their views on how products should be developed....

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