Innovation: A Competency Quadrant for Translation Management Systems

welocalize November 12, 2020

Data is the currency of business, not the software applications that interact with data. Moreover, as author Daniel Keys Moran notes, “You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data”. How does our industry access this data for critical information across the complex technology ecosystem that powers content generation and translation?

In today’s world of enterprise infrastructure, integrated systems across the client-vendor spectrum are more frequently seen as “mission critical” as opposed to “nice to have”. At the same time, the technology landscape for businesses interacting with data has come a long way through the utilization of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and cloud-based architecture. While many industries aim to produce standards that can drive cohesion between systems, the search for a standard, a true standard that unequivocally is embraced within an industry, is still a challenge.

For our localization industry to keep progressing, what’s critical is having access to, and analysis of, data across the entire content development lifecycle. This frictionless workflow allows clients and suppliers alike to make smarter decisions on how work gets done and which resources (human or machine) is best suited to do that work.

Welocalize believes that the innovation necessary to enable businesses to transact in a frictionless workflow, and to ensure that clients retain clean, transferable, and portable data requires compliance to a standard that does not include any proprietary elements. In an industry that has had many attempts through the years at defining and institutionalizing an open standard for translation files, we believe a neutral XLIFF 2.0 (XML Localization Interchange File Format) is the best solution available.

A Vision for Application of Open Standards

Welocalize’s vision for the application of an open standard file format for delivering content to translation resources is based on specific tenets:

  • Not forcing translators into a specific CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) environment; and
  • Ensuring TM (Translation Memories) are free from propriety elements brought on through the use of custom elements and tagging.

Allowing translators to use the translation environment of their choosing has several inherent benefits.

  • Translators can perform their work better in environments that they are most efficient with; having positive impacts on both speed and quality.
  • A larger pool of qualified translators is available for engagements when licensing to specific environments is not a requirement.
  • Ensuring non-proprietary elements are not contained in a TM ensures client organizations have this important linguistic asset in a format that is neutral, reducing penalties associated with loss of content leveraging across different tools.

What Does This Mean When Selecting a Translation Management System (TMS)?

Welocalize is often asked to assess the purpose of fit for specific TMS applications for our clients’ business needs. It’s important to note that we do not sell TMS or software as a business model. However, because of the diversity of our clients in size, across industries, and mixed technology stacks, we’ve gained deep operational expertise in working with a myriad of commercially-available TMS.

To help our clients assess technology that supports frictionless workflows, we’ve created a Competency Quadrant to help frame fit for purpose based on the following use cases:

  • Use Case 1 – Requirement to have API connectivity to a proprietary CMS system
  • Use Case 2 – Requirement to facilitate online in-context review
  • Use Case 3 – Support a multi-vendor environment where all teams are utilizing the same system
  • Use Case 4 – Offer “live” collaborative TM sharing and update functionality
  • Use Case 5 – Offer “live” collaborative TM sharing and update functionality
  • Use Case 6 – Support for customized reporting & KPIs

To learn more about Welocalize’s assessment of commercially available TMS options based on these use cases and neutral XLIFF for open standards, we’ve developed a white paper titled “Translation Management System (TMS) Competency Quadrant: Open Standards for a Frictionless Translation Workflow”. Please contact us at to request a PDF copy of this white paper or schedule a conversation with Darin Goble, VP of Client Solutions at Welocalize.