Why You Might Need Help Selecting a TMS
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Why You Might Need Help Selecting a TMS

Why You Might Need Help Selecting a TMS

Selecting a TMS

Implementing a Translation Management System (TMS) is a crucial part of optimizing and scaling your globalization program to handle fast and imminent growth. Yet without deep, in-house TMS expertise, it’s hard to know where you stand. What are you missing out on that could centralize and streamline your localization program, saving you time, cost and improving quality?

A Market in Flux

We see the TMS market in a state of change. Many early adopters of TMS systems now find their existing deployments are aging rapidly. A wave of innovation has introduced TMS systems which don’t come with any “baggage” — often cloud-based, with considerably lower implementation and maintenance costs and faster deployment. At the same time, a new generation of growing enterprises are climbing up the localization maturity model and are looking to implement or evolve a TMS system as a way of streamlining their translation operations.

Too Many Choices

Common Sense Advisory counts 28 “major” TMS tools out there, all of whose features, approaches, bells, and whistles vary widely, but there are no straight answers on what makes sense for your organization, since each enterprise is unique and has very different technology needs. Do you know which of these features you are likely to use now or in the future?

  • Automate many translation processes
  • Centralize all work requests and projects
  • Manage or improve processes to automate the flow of work to / from engineers, translators, reviewers and approvers
  • Push/pull content from a CMS
  • Integrate Machine Translation
  • Manage multiple vendors
  • Receive analytics
  • Enable linguistic technology to aid the translator (like Translation Memory, which leverages past data, and glossary management)

Ambiguity about your future globalization plans makes it tempting to buy the package that covers everything — but doing so may divert funds from translation services, which are the heart of your program ROI. Then again, you don’t want to lock yourself into a package that does not support key functions that are crucial to a program that scales properly.

Too Easy to Waste Money

Many TMS systems cost between $25,000 and $150,000 per year to purchase, license, customize, deploy and support. Are you spending too much money? Are you overbuying features you already have, or won’t ever use? Are you buying too hastily, before a full needs analysis? Are you falling for a prepackaged tool because it sounds easier to implement than piecemeal technologies?

These are some of the most common ways globalization program owners waste precious budgets. They all boil down to not asking enough questions of the tool provider. You need to be confident the solution will flex and grow with your program, and that has to be a deep-dive conversation.

How to Get It Right

Start with full discovery

Only a full discovery regarding your current processes, existing tools and future goals will illuminate the feature set you need on your shopping list. If you’re working with a TMS provider who skips this step, you have to ask why. Are they selling a one-size-fits-all solution that contains features you don’t actually need? Are they selling a solution that isn’t easily (read: affordably) adaptable to your situation? Those are things you want to know before you sign on the dotted line!

Seek objective support in TMS evaluation and selection

We see a lot of buyer’s remorse among global brands who let the choice of localization vendor dictate their technology package. If you can’t switch vendors once you implement a TMS system, you have no leverage if the vendor disappoints your expectations for cost, quality, or turnaround.

But if you get objective support from a TMS expert who has no stake in which package you buy, you’re more likely to get the best package to support you now and in the future. (You may have noticed our recent press release on TMS Maestro services — we’ve actually been offering this kind of support for years, but with the market flux and dizzying choices, we figured it was time for some extra publicity. Check out this video for more details.)

Consider outsourcing the entire TMS implementation

If you don’t have a compelling reason to own and deploy a TMS in-house, you should seriously consider whether you need to own one at all. Servers and licenses are unattractive capital expenses — and TMS user support and ongoing maintenance requires expensive headcount. It’s not your core competency, so why bother?


What are you seeing in the TMS technology market? What are your biggest challenges with localization technology infrastructure, processes, and scalability?