Six Steps to Choosing the Right Translation Management System [Infographic]
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Six Steps to Choosing the Right Translation Management System [Infographic]

As if it weren’t daunting enough to navigate the dozens of translation management system (TMS) solutions on the market, how do you get stakeholders to identify what’s most important from among their myriad functions and features?

Don’t worry: you don’t actually need unanimous agreement. Your aim for now is to minimize miscommunication about everyone’s needs. As long as you’ve connected the right people in your organization, done your homework and tied it to business or unit objectives, you’re well on your way to deciding the right TMS for your localization program.

To help you along, we’ve developed a process for TMS comparison and selection that keeps the most stakeholders happy in the fewest, simplest steps. As you navigate your options, keep the following visual at hand.

Choosing a Translation Management System

Six Steps to Choosing the Right Translation Management System

Selecting a translation management system (TMS) doesn’t have to include team conflict. The key is to break the decision-making process into small, tactful steps. We’ll walk you through it.

  1. Identify all stakeholders

Find anyone in the organization—including other business units—who has interest in translation management.

Identifying as many potential users as possible now will ensure you won’t be held up (or shut down) later. Don’t forget budget approvers and IT/InfoSec.

  1. Gather stakeholder requirements

Each team will have different requirements for TMS features and integrations. As you collect them, remember that no request is too ridiculous or unimportant. (You can discard impossible or irrelevant feature requests later.)

Some requests might go beyond what a TMS can handle, but the important thing at this stage is to keep your mind open to everyone’s needs.

  1. Sort requirements by functional areas

Every TMS has four core functional areas:

  • Linguistic: language asset storage and management, quality control, translation/editing/reviewing, etc.
  • Technical: parsing of file types, integrations between systems, IT security, etc.
  • Workflow management: user and access management, workflow setup, task automation, etc.
  • Business management: rate sheets, distribution of payments, analytics dashboards, etc.

After summarizing the requests from step #2, categorize them into these four buckets to create a matrix.

  1. Sort ‘must-haves’ from ‘nice-to-haves’

Next, prioritize each function by labeling it critical, important or helpful.

Be sure to restrict each core functional area to no more than three critical functions. Stakeholders might be tempted to mark everything they want as “critical,” but everyone will need to make sacrifices and separate wants from needs for the company to arrive at a consensus.

  1. Request demos

Now it’s time to ask candidates to demo their features. To make sure your solution checks off as many high-priority features as possible, concentrate on meeting only critical needs.

Don’t worry—you can explore anything non-critical in the next phase.

TIP: TMS vendors need time to prepare their demos. Send your request in written form at least one week in advance.

  1. Evaluate, pilot, go!

Congratulations: you’re ready to review the demos, shortlist three or four options and pilot the finalists. Try a variety of small translation projects and see how it works.

At this point, you can also add in nice-to-have features as well as things like costs and vendor expertise to determine the winning platform.


Remember: You won’t get every stakeholder 100% on board with your finalists—and that’s okay. By asking the right questions of your stakeholders and vendors, you’ll at least set solid expectations.