Sep 1, 2011

Has Kilgray jilted freelance translators?

The latest post on the Kilgray blog is a strange one, though not entirely unexpected. It's an attempt to answer recent criticism that the company cares more about its corporate clientele than freelance translators. I've heard concerns about this for some months now, though honestly more concerns from within Kilgray than from the world of translation at large. I take the fact that the company's board even worries about such things to be a sign of the basic health of its concern for freelancers. I mean, really, can you imagine the board members of SDL losing sleep over a few grumbling translators?

I've heard a lot of internal concerns from members of the Kilgray team that the many features which have been added to memoQ since I began using it a bit over two years ago have made it harder to have a full overview of everything the product can do. I would actually agree with that, but it doesn't worry me any more than the fact that I use perhaps 10% of Microsoft Word's functions: I focus on what I need and ignore the rest. I know it's there and if something becomes relevant to me later, I'll learn about it then. Like the Star Transit project import feature. I hadn't done Transit projects in years and gave them no thought any more until Monday when an old client called with an urgent request. So I spent 5 minutes learning to use that memoQ feature and made my rent and then some once again with a day's work in an unusually slow week. You tell me if that's ignoring the needs of a freelance translator.

Kilgray's pursuit of LSP and enterprise business has in reality been a godsend to its freelance translator base. As major clients like the German post office adopt memoQ technology, its perceived legitimacy and the legitimacy of those using memoQ increases among potential clients. Even freelance translators using Trados have benefited considerably from Kilgray's user support and innovative skills as SDL has been forced to clean up its act in many ways and make substantial improvements in its product and support due to competitive pressure not felt before.

Corporate sales underwrite development of features interesting to freelancers in a way that individual "pro" licenses never could, and that is a good thing. Just look at the disaster of Atril over most of the last decade as the product which was once the most versatile, innovative tool available to freelancers languished with almost no development for years, and many users truly expected the Second Coming before the release of DVX2, which finally came out several years after the announcement of its imminent release. Kilgray is innovating and adding features that are directly useful to me as a freelancer at a pace far beyond my ability to keep an overview. Without making memoQ any more complicated in my daily routine! If corporate money helped pay to develop that superb Transit compatibility feature or the bilingual RTF table output I use almost every day, then I can only be grateful to Kilgray for having the wisdom to seek balanced development of its business in all areas of translation service.

But are they ignoring freelance user support requests and giving all the attention to big-ticket customers? I don't think so. I hear time and again from friends with no personal acquaintance with the Kilgray team how quickly and competently their questions are answered. Sometimes there's a little back and forth before the issues are understood clearly, but that is normal in any human interface in any company or industry.

A quick look at September's schedule of TEN free webinars by Kilgray shows a good balance of interests, with a number of presentations for all interest groups. Nobody is being ignored nor is any group receiving an undue share of attention.

Misunderstandings are inevitable in human interactions, even among intelligent people with good intentions. We are all preprogrammed to misread what's right in front of us rather often, because we cannot help but look through lenses of experience that is not always positive. Having been disappointed very often in my dealings with many companies offering products and services, I can be positively hairtrigger with respect to some organizations and unleash a torrent of criticism that may not be fair in a given instance. I look very closely at Kilgray and what it is up to, and I have done so well before I began using the company's products, which I was very reluctant to do. But in the end, the team there won my trust, not with its often superior technology, but rather by its ability to admit mistakes, treat all its users with respect and always try to do better. They don't get everything right all the time, but their basic good sense and desire for stability and balance have carried them very far and very fast in recent years as freelancers, LSPs and enterprises recognize a partner who really can be trusted, one with no hidden agendas or corporate divisions looking for a wedge to sell its translation services to your customers.

1 comment:

  1. This article makes me feel more at ease. I have been using the author´s approach of not fiddling around with some sophisticated MemoQ features until I HAVE to.


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