A common topic discussed in terminology training courses deals with project constraints known as the “Triple Constraint”: scope, time (schedule), and cost (budget/resources). They are an important part of project management processes because they limit the smooth running of a project by creating bottlenecks or restrictions. Your Project Charter usually includes accounts for project constraints, also known as The Iron Triangle because you can rarely change one constraint without also impacting the others. An additional element that is affected by this interaction is quality (“Tetrad”). (In some manuals scope is also regarded as quality). This is why they are represented in a triangle, in which each part affects the other, with quality in the middle of the figure:
The Charter is a key document that brings together all the separate pieces of information about the project with a view to ensure the buy-in from all the stakeholders. Proper construction of a project charter can help ensure the success of any project.
If it is your first attempt at writing a Charter find a mentor who can advise and direct you. The best way to approach it is to think that it’s just a form (download this template) that you need to fill in, and there are many versions of such a form available online that can guide you, in case you need to use it (or you can write your own version).
First, you need to present your business case: a start-up document for your boss/client with the pros and cons of your project, based on the resources allocated, presenting the business issue (for example create a termbase), identifying project options (design it yourself/expert or buy CAT tool), benefits (see my section on the benefits of managing terminology), costs, risks, and scope. See also my section on the Terminology Business Case for more info.
As promised, this year I’ll resume the Terminology Project Management series. In a previous post I talked about the importance of managing stakeholders in terminology projects. This and other components are part of the Concept or Initiating Phase of PM.
Recapping from that previous post, projects are divided in process groups, like steps you use in recipes: Concept, Development, Execution, and Finishing (C+D+E+F) [this is the easiest-to remember-classification]. Read More
There are many useful components, tools, and processes involved in PM in order to manage a project successfully, from getting to know your stakeholders to managing time and costs and developing soft skills. So it is not surprising that new processes and tools are created as people learn and obtain experience. That is why, if you go to the leader in PM training—the PMBOK Guide—it is not surprising that their latest 5th Edition has added more processes to their lifecycle. But where am I heading to? Read More
One of the first things you need to do when you start a project is to figure out who your stakeholders are and get to know them well. A person or group of people who has an interest in your project, is affected by it (directly or indirectly) or who can influence its outcome is a stakeholder. It is important to be AWARE of who they are and what role they play in your project, especially their attitude towards it: Negative stakeholders may not be rooting for your project to succeed (maybe the stakeholder has been doing glossaries manually and feels threatened by that new terminology tool your are trying to implement). Here’s when your PM soft skills kick in! Use your skills to turn him around and make him an ally in the future.
Also, if it’s a large organization, new stakeholders might be popping up as you hold your interviews, so you might need to create a Stakeholder Register (read more here) in which you will need to write down their responsibilities, goals, concerns, and expectations. Managing stakeholder expectations is a daily task in a PM’s agenda: communicating with everybody, dealing with hidden agendas, making sure needs are met.
One of the techniques to identify stakeholders is the Stakeholder Analysis which starts by interviewing all people involved. Find out the value the project has for them and try to figure out if there are any other stakeholders to interview. Divide them into groups based on their level of involvement and need for communication.
Stakeholders in terminology projects have specific and interchangeable roles. According to the Terminology Starter Guide, stakeholders in a terminology project may include, among others:
- The Executive Sponsor: can help you open doors with your business case as he has high-level support
- The Project Manager: understands the corporate climate and the technology, is committed to success, has exceptional communication skills, and management experience
- Terminologists: look for and record new terminology, manage existing terminology by updating records to identify terms that have become obsolete, communicate with a diverse group of corporate subject-matter experts to determine the appropriate terms for concepts
- Technical writers: are responsible for identifying key terms and drafting definitions
- Technical editors: work directly with writers and terminologists to validate terms and definitions according to established grammar and style guidelines
- Linguist/translators: plays an invaluable role by assisting with data structure design and addressing terminological issues
- Globalization and localization expert: helps ensure correct and consistent source text that is culturally neutral and world ready
Stakeholders may also include people from software development, product management, marketing, engineering, R&D, operations, procurement, sales and distribution, legal department, human resources, end users (of termbase), and the sponsor(s).
Ideally, all stakeholders should have at least some knowledge on terminology management, for which you might want to provide basic training at an early stage (terminology tool to be used, etc.), although not all stakeholders have to be trained terminologists! Make sure that they know the mutual benefits of terminology management (refer to my section on ROI and benefits of terminology).
To counteract any Negative Stakeholders you need to develop a Stakeholder Strategy. Always keep your stakeholders motivated and updated, recognize their contribution and share ownership of the project. Watch out for communication issues, and make sure they get the right information to help them make good decisions. Hold regular meetings and make sure everybody is familiar with the subject matter. You can read more on writing your stakeholder strategy in this short but great post by PM Study Circle).
For more guidance on how to get to know your stakeholders better, read this post by Anthony Mersino, What is Stakeholder Relationship Management All About? in his blog Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers.
- Knowledge is power. And you acquire knowledge by learning the tools and techniques that are available and how and when to use them. If you are going to get involved in a terminology project, talk to people who have managed similar projects to learn about their experience (learned lessons) and go to my page on resources on project management. Be sure, for example to check out this link on PM tools, process, plans, and project planning tips, for starters. You can learn from everyone’s successes and mistakes so that you can be better at managing you project. You don’t want to attend a meeting and not know what a Gantt chart is!
- Performance is key. But knowing is not everything. You need to deliver. This one is about keeping your nose to the grindstone and doing good work. You have to show that your terminology project is important to you. Lead with example: Be on time, meet deadlines, and don’t be sloppy. When you cut corners you have to cut back and fix all the mistakes, whether they were yours or your team’s. Ask yourself this: What am I able to do or accomplish while applying all the knowledge that I have acquired on project management?
- Personal Skills (also known as the “soft side” of project management). We spend 90% of our time communicating. If we were to make a list, we are always solving problems, resolving conflicts, negotiating, planning, organizing, correcting people, preventing errors, etc. You need to make personal connections and keep everybody on the right track. You will be dealing with different stakeholders, external and internal: subject experts, technical translators, localizers, etc. (I will post in the future about stakeholders in a terminology project). It is true that some people have an ability to communicate better with others, but personal skills are something that you can learn if you have the discipline and willingness to unlearn and change your habits.
List of basic skills: Effective project managers require a balance of ethical, interpersonal, and conceptual skills that help them analyze situations and interact appropriately. Some of those skills are: Leadership, team building, motivation, communication, influencing, decision making, political and cultural awareness, negotiation, trust building, conflict management, and coaching.
Sources: Head First PMP. A Brain-Friendly Guide. 2nd Edition. PMBoK Guide. Fifth edition. The Hard vs. Soft Skill PM Debate blog page.
Before taking the plunge into project management, I would like to share some valuable resources on project management. Why is this important for a terminologist? Because you could either get involved in an ongoing project in an organization or you could be hired to start one yourself. In any case, you should be aware of what is involved in every step from start to finish, and you will need every resource available to do a good job.
Also, if you want to become a certified Project Manager there are lots of resources on the Internet. Probably all online PM courses are based on the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (or PMBoK Guide) published by the Project Management Institute (PMI) – the largest organization of Project Management professionals in the world. (You can purchase it on Amazon for a lot less than their webpage, by the way.) This and other guides will prepare you to take the PMP® exam. The Guide contains standards and best practices for dealing with problems that you will probably encounter in every single project. Also, a webpage that I find useful and informative (and it’s free) is Max’s Project Management Wisdom, created by Max Wideman who was the author of the first PMBOX guide (check out for example its PM glossary and his PM 101 edutoon series).
I have created a section that includes these and a lot of interesting and useful resources on project management under my section “The How-To of Terminology Projects”. Check them out! I will be referring to many of these resources in future posts.
By the way, these resources were taken from this free course which I highly recommend: Principles of Project Management by Open2Study.
Have a great week!
One of the first questions I asked myself when I decided to look for training opportunities in terminology was “What does a terminologist do?” I wanted to know exactly what I was signing up for. The two sources that I found at the time are included in my section The Terminologist’s Job Description: One of them says terminologists are “specialists in compiling, describing, maintaining and propagation of monolingual and multilingual specialised vocabularies.” The other one describes them as “experts in formulating, describing, managing and distributing mono- and multi-lingual terminologies.”
But would a terminologist (or translator) be qualified to be a successful terminology project manager (TPM)? You do need to have at least some basic knowledge of the specialized area you will be working on to be a good project manager, but there is more to it than you might think. Many people think that you have to be an expert translator or terminologist to be a terminology project manager, but in most cases you just need to have a special mix of skills. Actually, some people say you even need to have a special type of personality to succeed as a project manager, which might be leaving some people out of the game before it starts!
You might not recall it but I had previously promised to talk about this subject before and created a section called “The how-to of Terminology Projects”. This is why in the following posts I would like to bring up this subject again and share some basic information that you should know if you ever decide to become a TPM. There are many aspects involved in PM such as defining goals, knowing your stakeholders, managing risks and conflicts, motivating people, knowing the project cycle, etc., and all of these topics (and more) are also part of being a TPM.
Obviously, I do not intend to prepare you to take up a new job as TPM, and just like the purpose of this blog, what I intend is to guide and provide information for beginners who are looking at this for the first time, and having some basic project management skills will come in handy in order to know exactly what you are signing up for. And if you want to be certified, you should look at my section Training and sign up for TermNet’s courses (which also include some basic information on PM) and other training opportunities. And, of course, there are lots of free courses on PM available online which I will be also sharing as we go along.
In the meantime, take a quick look at this two and a half minute cartoon on project management to get an idea of what’s to come ahead.
This is the first of a series of posts related to terminology project management. There are many aspects involved in terminology project planning and we need to talk about them in detail. This and future related posts will be organized under a separate page for ease of reference as they are published.
In order to better understand how a project is developed we have to explore the basics of project management. Every project, regardless of its nature (that is, whether it is a terminology or a construction project) shares essential characteristics and follow similar steps.
Our terminology project will be unique, that is, it will different from other projects, even other terminology projects. It will have specific objectives or goals to achieve, it will require resources (tools, money) and the preparation of budgets, it will be developed under a specific schedule, it will involve the participation of stakeholders (people who are affected by it) and, finally, it will include quality assessments.
In summary, a project is a process that includes a series of activities that will be carried out under a specific schedule to achieve an objective(s) taking into consideration time, costs, and resources.
There is certainly a risk involved because there will always be elements of uncertainty: We might start with a budget that could be reduced, we might have to work with people who are not fully committed to the project, or they might be issues that delay the original schedule. But a terminology project is an ongoing process, and we can always find ways to tackle these problems. You would probably reach your final goal, but that goal will also render a product: a termbase that will need constant updating and maintenance. That is why it is so important to start with the right foot and make sure that all steps are followed correctly.
A project is not the final destination, it is a journey. Your terminology project will probably be just one of many, but every one of them will be a continuous learning experience for which you will have to put in to practice your skills, apply the best methodology, and use the adequate tools (e.g. termbase) to plan, monitor, and deliver the expected benefits.
On a separate section in this blog I talk about the business case, that is, how to justify your terminology project, so I would suggest you check it out before we go any further. (Read it here)
So, hold on to your seats, as this will be a fun ride! And as you ride along, don’t forget that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that you can also deepen your knowledge by taking a MOOC (free online course) on project management which will give you a broader perspective of what to expect. Just go to http://www.mooc-list.com/, to search for your favorite MOOC.
Sources and further reading:
- Leadership Principles for Project Success by Thomas July. Read here.