A Translation Management System sounds like something you want your Language Service Provider to have rather than something your own company needs…

But if you regularly publish multilingual content, a Translation Management System (TMS) might just be the answer to your prayers.

You can use a TMS to:

  • Automate many of the processes involved in translation, saving yourself time and money
  • Increase the consistency, quality and accuracy of your localised content
  • Organise workflows to make localisation straightforward, simple and easy to track

That’s not even mentioning the ways a TMS will make it possible for you to organise, administrate and measure all of your translation projects at the same time.

Say goodbye to having a dozen different spreadsheets. Translation Management Systems are here.


  1. What is a translation management system and how does it work?
  2. How does a TMS work?
  3. What types of translation management system are there?
  4. What are the business benefits of translation management technology?

What is a translation management system?

A Translation Management System (TMS) is a piece of software which manages and automates many parts of the translation and localisation process.

They’re sometimes called Globalisation Management Systems (GMS) or Global Content Management Systems (GCMS).

As you can probably guess from those names, their job is to make everything associated with globalising your content simple.

A good way to think about them is as an extension of your Content Management System (CMS) designed for producing multilingual content.

In fact, most TMS software will integrate with the kind of CMS your company might already be using. This makes the change over to using one a lot easier than it may initially appear.

How does a TMS work?

A TMS consists of two main parts. These are:

1) Business process management technology

This part of the software is designed to handle – and in many cases automate – the planning, assignment and management of your localisation projects.

It will normally include:

  1. Project management tools – these handle the administration of the project, allowing for the assignment of translators and editors. Some TMSs may also include Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, as well as finance and vendor management and human resource systems.
  2. A Content Management System – a TMS will usually be designed to link with your existing CMS or have its own built in. This makes it easy to have your content extracted and then sent to the TMS ready to be internationalised.

2) Linguistic technology

The other main task of a TMS is to handle all of the work which is non-essential or repetitive so that a human translator can focus on the creative parts of a project.

For this reason, a TMS will tend to include tools which increase the consistency and efficiency of human translators:

  • Translation Memories (TMs) – these are central databases of already-translated segments of text which are then suggested to translators about to start work on similar-looking segments.
  • Terminology databases – these can feature technical terms as well as branded content which has already been translated.
  • Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools – possibly linked to a Machine Translation engine of some kind. If the engine in question has been trained properly, Machine Translation technology can be used for a variety of time and effort-saving purposes. This ranges from creating first drafts to producing content that is ready for post-editing.

What types of Translation Management System are there?

There are several common types of Translation Management System:

1) Enterprise Translation Management Systems

These contain both of the types of tools mentioned above – business process management and linguistic technology – and are ideal for many organisations.

Examples might include: AIT Projetex, LBS, Plunet BusinessManager, SDL TMS, TranslationProjex, QuaHill and XTRF.

2) Translation Business Managers

These tools are generally designed to manage the involvement of several thousand freelance translators. They also tend to focus on the financial management of projects, such as invoicing.

These will not always include linguistic technology because of the difficulty of making all of the different CAT tools used by the individual translators compatible with each other. They tend to offer integrations instead.

Examples might include: Cloudwords, Memsource, RR Donnelley MultiTrans, SDL Worldserver, Smartling, Wordbee and XTM Cloud.

3) On-demand platforms

On-demand platforms do away with the need for human project managers altogether, connecting translators with buyers automatically.

They are often designed for projects where a short deadline and lower costs are higher priorities than quality.

Examples might include: Gengo, LionBridge, OnDemand, Stepes, TextMaster and translate.com.

4) Translation Quality Evaluation tools

These tools are almost exactly what they sound like. They’re designed to allow proofreaders to do their work, providing feedback and highlighting errors while projects are in progress.

The tools then output these results as “Quality Dashboards”. These make it easy to monitor the accuracy and quality of your translation work.

Examples might include: Content Quo, Kaleidoscope Global Review, TAUS DQF and TQ Auditor.

5) Open Source TMS

Various Open Source systems are also available. The functionality they offer depends on the system in question.

Examples might include: MateCat, Okapi,  Pootle, Project-open,  translate5 or Welocalize GlobalSight.

What are the business benefits of translation management technology?

There is a reason why so many businesses are starting to use TMS software to adapt their content for multilingual markets.

The benefits of Translation Management Systems include the facts that they make it easy for you to:

1) Collaborate

One of the biggest advantages of Translation Management Systems is the amount of time they save on collaboration.

Any high-quality translation process will involve multiple stakeholders. A document might be worked on by several linguists, reviewers and project managers.

Luckily, a TMS makes this kind of collaboration simple.

They allow teams to:

  • Prioritise different parts of a project
  • Work on multiple projects efficiently
  • Communicate in real-time no matter where in the world they happen to be
  • Access centralised resources, so there is no need to constantly download and upload resource files or pass around parts of projects
  • Avoid contextual errors created by not being able to see the larger project

2) Automate

A TMS automates many of the processes involved in translation which would otherwise need to be handled manually. This might include automatically uploading translated content to your website or app, for example.

Depending on the type of TMS you have, other processes might be automated too:

The process of finding a translator for a certain project, for instance. This is potentially handy if you don’t have a fixed Language Service Provider and the quality demands aren’t high.

They might also include Machine Translation technology which produces translated content ready for post-editing or to be taken advantage of by a human translator to automate parts of the actual translation process.

3) Save (time and money)

The CAT tools which TMS systems often come with will include Translation Memories (TMs) and can have terminology dictionaries and branded content added.

These save you both time and money in the translation process as the same translation does not need to be carried out multiple times. These handy tools work simultaneously to increase accuracy and consistency within and across projects.

4) Estimate (and track)

Another financial advantage of many TMS systems is that you will be able to estimate and track your translation costs, enabling you to carefully monitor your spend.

You may also be able to choose who handles your translations for you:

  • A professional Language Service Provider – ideal if you need reliable quality.
  • Bidders from a network of providers – if you use an on-demand platform.
  • Crowdsourced – if low cost is paramount.

5) Organise

Keeping all of the information about your clients, projects, vendors and so on in the same place makes organisation simple. No more spreadsheet tracking and multiple versions of localised copies.

Whether it’s the contacts and business addresses of each vendor you used or all of the files required for a particular project, everything is easily categorised and accessed.

5) Administrate

You’ll be keeping all of your payments in order and be able to easily track pending ones.

A TMS can take all of the hassle out of preparing or working out:

  • Invoices
  • Quotes
  • Taxes
  • Prices per unit

6) Analyse

Many types of TMS software will allow you to create financial or productivity reports and track trends. This can help you see trouble spots or focus on cost-effective areas more easily.

It might sound like only a handy little extra. But the savings you can make here will soon mount up.

Which TMS is right for me?

The sheer variety of TMS software on the market can make it difficult to choose the one which is right for you.

If you’re in doubt, ask the experts. It’s in your Language Service Provider’s best interests to advise you.