Translation management software (TMS) is a crucial part of the translation process for multilingual businesses. From centralizing the workflow to assisting translators, implementing a TMS into your process can reduce errors and help you consistently create stellar content.

Discover what makes a good TMS and which ones the experts are using. Plus, learn how they might change in an AI-driven world. 

What makes good translation management software?

Translation management software or system (TMS) is a platform that centralizes and streamlines the translation and localization process. These systems automate and organize projects. Their features improve collaboration among linguists, project managers and clients. 

They can and often do include machine translation tools and computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, but a TMS is a full translation project management suite.

How it works: A TMS automates translation using machine translation, then provides the translations for a human linguist to check. Beyond assisting with translation, the goal of a TMS is to put translations in context, so linguists can assess how the translations will look for the end user. 

“The same way machine translation proliferated the amount of content being translated, and therefore the need to edit those translations, AI translation will further this trend and create an even greater need for professional translation editors to revise the results.”

Shaheen Samavati, CEO of VeraContent

A TMS is great for any size project, but particularly necessary for companies juggling multiple languages and huge volumes of translations. 

See also: How to use ChatGPT for marketing to a global audience

Here are the features you can expect in any good TMS:

  • Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools: CAT tools are a mainstay in any linguist’s toolkit. The primary goal is to allow translators to see what their translations will look like in context. 
  • Translation memory: This type of tool stores and recognizes past translations, saving time on commonly used phrases or terms in a project.
  • Terminology memory: Similar to translation memory, this tool checks and adjusts translations to include approved terms while rejecting inappropriate/unsuitable terms. 
  • Workflow management: With a TMS, you can assign tasks and roles to users, allow access to specific teams, and establish next steps. 
  • File sharing: Most TMSs simplify file sharing and support dozens of types of files.
  • Project management & reporting: A TMS increases the visibility of the project for all users with reporting features. Many also offer billing & invoicing services.  
  • Scalability & integration with other systems/software: They usually integrate with content management systems like WordPress and design, visual or development platforms like GitHub and Figma. This makes it easier to edit translations as the project develops. 
  • Communication & collaboration improvements: Beyond improving transparency of the translation process for all teams involved, many also include built-in chat tools like Slack, Jira, email, etc. 
  • Quality assurance tools: Spelling and grammar checks are a necessary part of the editing process. A TMS offers automation for this, and they can also include linguist quality assurance, where systems can assign quality or punctuality scores to individual linguists. 
  • AI features: New AI features are constantly being added that can do things such as automatically detecting terms, such as proper nouns that don’t need to be translated or provide suggestions for alternative translations. 

See also: AI translation: Helpful tool or just plagiarism in disguise?

“The future of translation lies in the collaboration between human intelligence and AI-powered machine translation. Human translators excel in creative thinking and adapting translations for specific audiences, while AI is ideal for automating repetitive tasks.”

Adriano Raiano, software developer and author

But ultimately, each TMS will offer different capabilities and levels of complexity. 

A small-scale, budget-friendly TMS makes sense for a company handling small, one-off projects or for those with small budgets. While only a TMS with enterprise-level capabilities will do for enterprises handling massive amounts of data. 

Consider the following when picking a TMS:

  • How much and how frequently you will be translating content
  • How many platforms/applications will you want to be translated (websites, apps, etc.)
  • Number of languages and regions you are working in
  • Number of parties involved in the process, and how much the client will want to be involved
  • Brand tone and style requirements

See also: 8 best tools for running an effective multilingual blog

Best translation management software tools

We’ve covered the features you can expect in each TMS and how that might change depending on your business needs.

At VeraContent, we work with global brands who are serious about taking their localization to the next level. As a translation and localization agency, we know how a good TMS helps us manage the process. 

Here are three options that companies are using as their TMS of choice:

Translation Management System #1: Lokalise

Lokalise translation management system

Not to be confused with Localize, which is another TMS, Lokalise is a premier AI-powered TMS that offers excellent automation through API and integration with GitHub, GitLab and BitBucket. It also provides a built-in chat integration with Slack, Jira, Asana and email. 

Pros:

  • Clean and clear UI/UX design
  • Translation and terminology memory
  • Quality assurance tools
  • Great 24/7 Support
  • Integration with DeepL and Google Translate
  • Excellent cohesion for designers and developers; integrates with Figma & GitHub. It also hides front-end code from translators so they don’t need to edit around HTML
  • AI suggestions on tone, style, industry and audience; along with features like rephrasing, SEO translations and more

Best for: Small/mid-sized businesses looking to switch from using spreadsheets to a low-cost, easy-to-use TMS.

Cost: Has a free plan that offers support for two projects and infinite languages. Paid plans start at $120 monthly for unlimited projects and ten users (you can add extra users for an additional $12/mo). 

Translation Management System #2: Plunet BusinessManager 

Plunet translation management system

Plunet BusinessManager is one of the most popular choices for a TMS due to its all-in-one web-based translation management platform. Used by PTI Global, Jaba Translations and LinguaLinx, it’s an excellent choice for companies handling massive amounts of translation assets.  

Pros:

  • Offers CAT tools, such as MemoQ, Trados and Phrase
  • Excellent accounting and reporting features, including billing and invoicing
  • Centralized workflow management
  • Project tracking

Best for: Small/mid-sized businesses and start-ups who are interested in an end-to-end business management solution that goes beyond translations. 

Cost: Plans are priced on a case-by-case basis, but there’s no free plan or trial. However, there’s no set-up fee.  

Translation Management System #3: Smartling

Smartling translation management software

British Airways, Spotify and WeWork all choose Smartling as their TMS. It prioritizes business management above all, so it is particularly strong in marketing and process automation, eCommerce, content management and customer support. 

Pros: 

  • CAT tools and glossary
  • Excellent 24/7 support 
  • Integration through API plugins
  • Great in-context translation preview for UI translation
  • Connectors to content management systems, including Adobe Experience Manager
  • Billing and invoicing
  • Task delegation
  • AI features include taking your brand voice, style and terminology into account

Best for: Small/midsize businesses looking for a lightweight tool that doesn’t sacrifice any of the features of a top TMS. 

Cost: Plans are priced on a case-by-case basis, but there’s no free plan or free trial.

BONUS: VeraContent’s best translation project management software

Phrase translation management tool

What are companies like Uber, Huawei, Shopify and our team at VeraContent using? 

Phrase (formerly Memsource). 

As the leading cloud-based TMS, Phrase processes over two billion words per month. It offers support for over 500 languages and 50 file types, and users praise its powerful workflow automation. Because it’s developed by Memsource, it’s natively supported by Memsource Translate Hub, an AI-powered machine translation tool. 

Pros:

  • CAT tools and its own in-house machine translator
  • App integration
  • Translation and terminology memory
  • Translation quality assurance (including a translation quality estimation feature)
  • 3rd-party machine translation engine connectors
  • Content management system (such as WordPress) connectors

Best for: Its high customizability works well for small, midsize and enterprise businesses. 68% of its market segment is small businesses. 

Cost: Plans start at $29 per month for up to two linguists and can go up to $369 or more for enterprise-level businesses. 

What is most exciting about this tool is its AI-powered localization capabilities, which are continually expanding. For example, it automatically detects terms, such as proper nouns, that don’t need to be translated or suggests alternative translations. 

Our team at VeraContent is very interested to see how this translation management system and its competitors continue to evolve with time.

See also: Why outsourcing translation services actually saves money

How translation management software could change in an AI-driven world

Kyler and Joana

What will the future hold for AI-powered translation management software?

With the arrival of neural machine translators (NMT) in 2016 and the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool, AI has already taken an important role in the translation process. 

Machine tools like Google Translate and DeepL boast highly specialized algorithms that mimic a brain’s ability to learn, so we can only expect their capabilities to grow more advanced and human-like. 

At VeraContent, we’ve been trying out new AI and automation tools to see how we can better automate our translation workflows. We realize how much AI is already changing the localization landscape and want to stay ahead of the curve. 

Still, language is complex, and AI tools can’t match a human linguist’s creative ability to understand and react to the regional and cultural influences that affect how we talk. For best results, leaving the human element out of the translation process is never advisable. 

“I think AI and machine translation have made our work more fun, as now we get to work on creative problems that only humans can solve.”

Shaheen Samavati, CEO of VeraContent

We can expect the future of translation management software to involve constant collaboration between AI tools and human translators. 

See also: How AI localization helps marketers—and how it doesn’t

Three of VeraContent’s linguists and Shaheen Samavati, VeraContent CEO, test an AI video translation tool and discuss the future of AI in translation during this podcast episode

Start building a great translation and localization workflow

The right translation management software will level up your translation workflows, and we at VeraContent expect this type of software to become even more invaluable to our localization process with the increase of AI-powered tools. 

Still, a TMS only forms the building blocks of the translation process. Professional translators and linguists are key to ensuring all your translated content is contextualized, accurate and relatable for regional audiences. 

To learn more about picking the right TMS or to ask about VeraContent’s creative translation services, contact our team today and see if you qualify for a Free Content Consultation. 

You can also download our free interactive worksheet on adapting your content to local markets below:

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