TMS Challenges: Top 5 Reasons Why Companies Avoid TMS Migration Projects

5 April 2021

TMS migration challegnes

Report written by Yulia Akhulkova.

Evaluating and migrating between translation management systems (TMS) is a lot of work and there are always reasons not to do it. It might be the fear of moving away from a familiar TMS, even if it isn’t fit for purpose, the impact on other teams and external stakeholders, or the prospect of the time, technical work, and costs involved. The number of TMS solutions on the market can also make the decision far from simple and straightforward.

…But taking back control over a language tech stack is well worth the effort!

Why? Re-evaluating your TMS not only enables you to address functional limitations, but it also provides an opportunity to reconsider your entire localization process. Like software developers, localization teams need to “refactor” their TMS regularly to avoid falling behind the curve. 

Equally, it’s important not to be afraid of new TMS technology. The range of options means that there will certainly be a solution, or a combination of solutions, that will meet your needs — we really are spoiled for choice! 

tms migration

Source: Nimdzi Language Technology Atlas 2020

Often, companies acknowledge the need to upgrade their TMS, but that doesn’t necessarily make it happen any faster. 

Here are the top five reasons why TMS migrations are put on hold, and some advice on what to do to get them up and running again.

 1. I don’t have the in-house expertise

Even the most technically minded members of a localization team may feel that they’re not qualified enough to compare all of the different features, integrations, supported workflows, etc. available in a range of TMS solutions, let alone select the most suitable option. 

Some companies solve this by hiring a full-time engineer. But beyond just understanding TMS technology, does the new hire also understand the localization industry in general? Are they able to make the best decisions for the whole company and be trusted with implementing and optimizing one of the most expensive and important components of a globalization program?

As a general rule, it’s best that any TMS selection or migration project be a team activity, involving members who know the industry and have experience with similar projects. You may find that at least some of the necessary knowledge already exists within your internal localization team, so it becomes more a question of supporting them in sharing their expertise and opinions and carrying out additional research. 

With this internal team in place, you then have the option of contracting an engineer for the length of the project instead of hiring someone full time. And it’s okay, too, if none of this is feasible. There are TMS experts who can help. 

2. I don’t have time. There are too many competing priorities

We all have experience around big projects being put on hold when the benefits — especially in  terms of monetary value — aren’t clear. Estimating the positive financial impact of a TMS migration can prove challenging, and it’s not uncommon for this to be the reason why migration projects are put off for years. Everyone on the localization team may know the issue has to be dealt with, but without understanding the benefits, no one is really quite motivated enough to allocate the necessary internal resources.  

The key to overcoming this pain point is to carry out an in-depth analysis and understand the costs associated with the old system compared to the savings associated with a new solution. Typically, once the team sees how much the current TMS (or lack thereof) is really costing them, they’ll begin to understand the importance of the migration project.

3. It's too risky. I’ll get blamed if it fails

TMS selection and migration projects are risky business. One major concern for many leaders is reputational damage: this type of project can be controversial as there’s rarely a solution that satisfies the needs of all stakeholders involved. External vendors will also need to ensure that projects can continue to be processed in adherence with established KPIs/SLAs.

Of course, we should remember that the goal is not to make each individual stakeholder happy, but to find the best solution for the organization as a whole. Therefore, the key to a successful project is to prioritize results over office politics and people-pleasing. This isn’t easy and it’s the reason why many leaders choose to bring in outside help. 

By engaging with an external TMS expert, you increase your chances of success while reducing the risk of any backlash from stakeholders. 

4. What if I break the supply chain?

The prospect of rebuilding the web of integrations and patches that have grown around the familiar solution can be quite challenging for both internal and external stakeholders. The TMS migration gets more complicated when one vendor supplies both the TMS and linguistic services. And, then, the challenge becomes even more daunting if the majority of translation jobs are small such as, for example, in a continuous localization workflow.

Fortunately, most vendors will be happy to lend their expertise. But while supplier companies usually have qualified solution architects for you to learn from, they may not always be the most unbiased advisors. 

There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to consolidating the localization supply chain, but these need to be weighed within the unique context of each organization. So, a TMS migration project should be considered as an opportunity to consolidate and simplify the localization supply chain. 

5. It’s really difficult to get stakeholder buy-in

Technology is just the beginning. If you’re planning to select and deploy a new TMS, there will be cultural and organizational hurdles to overcome. This is why it’s important to identify and include all relevant stakeholders from the very beginning.

One effective strategy is to start by conducting interviews or organizing focus groups. This approach enables you to gather vital feedback for the project, while also introducing the change across the organization.

Preparing the team for change is just as important as defining the change, so don’t leave out this vital step.

Having read through these top five reasons, how many do you identify with? And don’t worry if it’s all five — you’re not alone!

Sometimes the time isn’t right for you to embark on such a demanding project or teams aren’t ready to invest in innovation. However, companies who have carried out successful TMS migration projects all say the same thing — they wish they had started sooner.

Yulia Akhulkova Data_Scientist Nimdzi Insights

This article was researched and written by Nimdzi's VP of Technology, Yulia Akhulkova. If you wish to learn more, reach out to Yulia at [email protected].

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