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The content management industry is going through a tough period of consolidation. For instance, what’s now known as the Microsoft Content Management Server was, in early 2001, known as NCompass Resolution, developed by NCompass Labs. Also that year, the content management firm Divine acquired two other content management firms: Eprise and Open Market. Many experts believe that consolidation will result in stronger companies offering better products, but for the time being, it can be frustrating for clients who find their products frequently changing owners. Before selecting a vendor, invest the time to talk with companies that are already using various packages; ask them the following questions:

  • How flexible is it? Can your IT department integrate the software into existing systems and customize it to your needs, or are you going to have to hire a consultant every month to make these changes?

  • Does the software support partial or subset localization? For example, you might not want to fully translate some web pages; the system should support this option and exempt designated text from the translation cycle. Or you might want to create subset sites, such as “Spanish_Mexico, Spanish_Argentina, Spanish_Spain” that share some Spanish text but also contain unique translations. A management system should be able to accommodate these complex but realistic scenarios.

  • Does the system detect changes to source or target content? You have to know when something has changed in any language, in any part of the site. You also need to know who changed it, at what time, and to what extent. If not, you’ll fail to build an effective translation memory, and errors will inevitably slip by.

  • How are files sent out for translation? Is this an automatic process? How prone to error is this process?

  • Can your translators use it? Too often, companies purchase systems that not all vendors are able to use because the system is not user friendly or requires a high-speed Internet connection, for example.

  • Can your translation agencies use it? If you’re outsourcing all translation, you’ll want to integrate the agency into the process, and this includes giving project managers some degree of access to the application. The ideal package allows multiple levels of access so that you can keep an eye on the outside project managers who are keeping an eye on the translators and editors.

  • Does the software allow for metadata? The software should provide a system for inserting comments and instructions to the translators and editors within the files. These notes are vital to ensuring quality throughout the process.

  • Does the software support standards? There is a standards group for nearly everything web related, including content management. The IETF World Wide Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) Working Group has published a number of standards at www1.ics.uci.edu/pub/ietf/webdav. Standards by themselves don’t guarantee better software, but they sometimes open the door to increased competition and compatibility among vendors and products.



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