Final sprint towards our transformation

2020 has been the second year of implementation of the Centre’s biennial Transformation Plan, following the recommendations adopted on the basis of the external ‘Study on the Translation Centre as the Shared Linguistic Service Provider for the EU Agencies and Bodies’ conducted in 2017/2018. As the year comes to an end and we look back on what has been achieved, we can consider that we are almost there!  In October, the Management Board’s working group overseeing the implementation of the plan already concluded: ‘[…], the progress achieved was really impressive, especially under the current circumstances. 98% of the Transformation Plan would be implemented by the end of the year […]’

The Transformation Plan 2019-2020 covers four areas (translation technology; human resources; quality and client orientation; and institutional aspects) as shown in the picture above. The main aims of the plan were to introduce structural changes, implement state-of-the-art translation technologies, including machine translation, and create new services for clients. The transformation process included a separate programme agreed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), covering a number of specific IT projects of strategic importance for both organisations.

What are the main achievements?

As a result of our intense cooperation with the EUIPO, we have:

  • developed new services for our clients, such as transcription based on automatic speech recognition, which was launched in June this year, and we have optimised some of our existing services, such as subtitling, language consultancy and translation. In January 2021, we will start offering new services in the areas of translation and transcription;
  • launched our first mobile application eCdT4me, available both on Google Play Store and Apple App Store, which allows our clients as well as our freelance and in-house translators to stay connected and interact with us on language service requests;
  • enhanced our workflows through the integration of relevant tools, thus yielding efficiency and quality gains for us and our clients: Euramis, eTranslation, the Centre’s own custom machine translation engines in the fields of public health and intellectual property, and IATE are now fully embedded in the Centre’s translation process and workflow management activities. Moreover, a new user-friendly translation feedback interface, based on the Corrected Version Request (CVR) and fully connected to the Centre’s Client Portal and workflow management system eCdT, has replaced the former Client Satisfaction Form (CSF) process;
  • come up with a new annual survey approach to measure client satisfaction, which will be put in place from Q1/2021. This will allow the Centre to better monitor the activity status and satisfaction level for each client and enhance client management.

In addition, the Centre invested in other enhancements aimed at facilitating our clients’ work, such as the budgetary forecast functionality now available on the Client Portal, or the web translation module for Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 based websites.

We have also established the Workflow Management Section as a single operational contact point for our clients. The Section is now managing all workflow steps, from the receipt of the request to the ‘after-sales’ service, as well as the Client Portal.

Moreover, the actions included in our transformation plan have enabled us to gain efficiency in the area of human resource management and to invest in specific training for our staff (e.g. post-editing of machine translation; transcription; optimised subtitling; management of translation memories).

At the start of 2021, as part of the implementation of Activity Based Management (ABM), Activity Based Budgeting (ABB) and Activity Based Costing (ABC) at the Centre, we will be using a new system for activity and resource allocation.

Finally, over the last two years we have fostered interinstitutional cooperation. It is well worth mentioning here that the progress achieved by the Centre in the field of machine translation and its close cooperation with the Commission’s DG Translation have recently made it possible for us to sign an agreement with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) on a service offer tailored to the Office’s needs.

It should also be noted that our eCdT workflow management system has obtained a lot of interest from the EU institutions’ translation services. Likewise, we are regularly sharing our experience in the areas of automatic speech recognition, transcription and subtitling with our institutional partners.

Most importantly, however, our transformation has helped us to consolidate the Centre as a modern EU language service provider and has opened up new business opportunities. More than ever, we are happy to see our clients turn to us for our expert advice in response to their specific multilingual needs, be it for website localisation, a review of their multilingual strategy, management of workflows and requests involving Member States, non-EU translations or transcription work.

The transformation plan has enabled us to move from a one-size-fits-all language service provider to a service provider with a richer, more diversified offer that responds to clients’ specific needs.