An ongoing (long-term) translation project is a large job from the same client that comes in smaller portions on a regular basis over an extended period of time. To illustrate, an automotive company can produce user manuals, service manuals, software, and marketing content that all need translation into various languages. After initial translation, their updated versions may become available, and new materials can be also added in each category. All these types of content are sent for translation in subsequent batches that represent different parts of a single ongoing translation project.
As a translation company, we enjoy such projects for many reasons. First and foremost, this is an indirect sign of your client’s satisfaction. Even if a regular client never provides any direct feedback, you can assume they are satisfied with your services, judging by a steady workload.
Another positive aspect of ongoing projects is the stability they bring in terms of revenue and schedule. Just as any other repeat business, they represent a steady source of income, which is essential in translator’s profession that is prone to periods of little or no work (e.g. see this post by Serena Dorey). In addition to financial stability, such projects also increase your confidence in terms of your schedule. Your client often informs you in advance about any expected portions of their project, making it possible for you to plan ahead and balance your overall workload. You can therefore enjoy a piece of mind that comes with a well-planned schedule.
What I like about ongoing projects from a project manager’s perspective is their tendency to be more flexible deadline-wise. Because there is normally a streamlined, already optimized process in place, everyone is aware of how fast others can work, and files move around with little delay. Your client may be also willing to provide you with more time, instead of reserving that time for tackling any unforeseen problems, simply because little or no trouble is expected.
From a translator’s perspective, most ongoing projects are attractive too, because the longer you work on them, the better you know them. By gradually accumulating project-specific knowledge and expertise, you increase your understanding of this project’s subject matter and translate more efficiently. You can benefit from the accumulated knowledge even more by saving all information in a fashion that allows easy access in the future. For example, you can save previous source and reference files as PDF, merge them, and use the resulting single file to search for context or explanations. You can also maintain a translation memory and benefit from the ability to access older translations, resulting in increased speed and consistency. Therefore, with each new portion of a project, a translator’s job often becomes easier.
Could there be any drawbacks associated with ongoing projects? Hardly any. The only “downside” I can think of is the management challenges resulting from the requirement to always assign the same translator to a specific project, because otherwise quality and consistency may be reduced. First, no translator can be available at all times, because anyone can get sick, work on another project, go on vacation, etc. Second, an ongoing project places additional responsibility with any translator, as their client comes to depend on their availability. For example, if such translator is planning to go on vacation, they are expected to warn the client. The client might also have different plans and ask the translator to postpone vacation. Not everyone wants this kind of additional responsibility. Finally, when a new member such as an editor or proofreader is added to a project team, it’s not always easy to get them up to speed. Before fully understanding specifics and context of this project, they might be less efficient, e.g. make unnecessary or incorrect changes, resulting in additional rework time or even client’s complaints. But of course, these management challenges are minor as compared to advantages associated with ongoing large projects.
If you need an excellent English to Russian translation team for your long-term project, we might be an excellent match.