E.g., 08/09/2020
E.g., 08/09/2020

What is a Translation Management System?

A Translation Management System (TMS) automates the translation process, makes it more controllable, and eliminates repetitive tasks. With a good TMS a project manager can oversee more projects each day and reduce manual operations. A TMS is essential to manage high volumes of translation work and run multiple projects in parallel.

Types of TMS

  • Enterprise TMS focus on language automation and project management. Most include a centralized translation memory component, a file/project management component, and a CAT tool. (Examples: AIT Projetex, Plunet BusinessManager, SDL TMS, XTRF, TranslationProjex, QuaHill, LBS, Wordbee, etc.)
  • Translation Business Managers focus on automation for invoicing, financials, and projects. They also include functionality to manage thousands of freelancers. Because LSPs work with a variety of CAT-tools, business managers don’t necessarily include a CAT-tool. Instead, they integrate with mainstream software. (Examples: SDL Worldserver, Cloudwords, Smartling, XTM Cloud, Memsource, etc.)
  • OnDemand Platforms connect buyers to thousands of translators automatically, without the involvement of a human project manager. Commonly used for quick general-purpose human translations rather than specialist and quality work, OnDemand platforms offer scale and fast turnaround times. (Examples: LionBridge OnDemand, Gengo, TextMaster, translate.com, Stepes, etc.)
  • Translation Quality Evaluation tools calculate translation quality and score and monitor it over time, displaying results in Quality Dashboards. They rely on proofreaders to review translations in-context, flag mistakes, and assign weight to them based on a predefined metric. Quality dashboards are essential for fast-paced translations into multiple languages. (Examples: TAUS DQF, Kaleidoscope Global Review, TQ Auditor, Content Quo, etc.)
  • Open Source Systems (Examples: Welocalize GlobalSight, Okapi, Project-open, MateCat, Pootle, translate5, etc.)

Key TMS functionality

Process Automation

Language Automation

Business Administration

File storage and management

CAT tool/text editor or integration


Project management

Context delivery

Price lists

Client portal, Order history

Translation memory management

TM discount tables

Job assignment

Terminology management

Staff payroll


Machine translation integration


Workflow automation

Quality Assurance rules

Vendor payment gate

Integrations with content systems (or Web CMS)


Financial reporting

Translation API

Quality tracking

Accounting integration

Reporting, dashboards

Support for file types

Vendor marketplace


  • Off-the-shelf vs. Custom: In the past, limited functionality of commercial TMS led many language service providers to develop bespoke systems. In many countries (including the UK, France, and Russia) more than half of the successful translation companies use custom-built systems or adapted ERP systems.
  • Deployment: TMS are either hosted or deployed on the buyer’s servers.
  • Vendor Dependency: Some TMS are developed by translation companies; others are maintained by software companies. Buyers may decide to opt for a vendor-independent system to reduce reliance on one company and go for technology and services together to simplify the process.
  • Lights-out Project Management: This refers to automation of the translation process to a point where a human manager is no longer required for most operations. The client submits jobs through a portal or API, and work is automatically allocated to relevant translators and returned to the client.
  • APIs: Few TMS tools can do everything well, that’s why it makes sense to use interlocked systems. TMS with multiple built-in integrations and well-developed APIs are easier to connect to other software systems.

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