Never is the question “what on earth has translation got to do with project management?” so evident than when you are the only “non-engineer” walking into a PMP training room.
PMP® certification is widely recognised on the world market in the project management area. Its aim is to provide public recognition of certified professionals’ knowledge and solid experience in project management, according to the standards of the Project Management Institute.
But let’s go back to the question clearly seen on the faces of the engineers and economists. The answer is given throughout the training course, when project management processes in general are dealt with. Things like defining the scope, communication management, estimating resources, planning, risk control and cost monitoring make perfect sense when applied to a translation project. Then there are the terms that are so well-known, such as Root Cause Analysis and Quality Assurance. And ones that aren’t so well-known but, when you look closely at them, you realise they are very common in this area. Who has never found themselves faced with a job that started off as just a simple document translation, but suddenly increases in volume and, by the way, it needs DTP too. Or one that is constantly being changed and where the translation has to be reviewed as well in order to bring it into line with the new original. This is called “scope creep”, defined by the PMBOK Guide as “the uncontrolled expansion to product or project scope without adjustments to time, cost, and resources…” Sounds familiar after all, doesn’t it? And what about parametric estimating? It sounds like some engineering term and is explained as “… if the assigned resource is capable of installing 25 metres of cable per hour, the duration required to install 1,000 metres is 40 hours.” Something like: if X words = 1 hour ⇒ 1000 words = Y hours. “And what about risks? There are no risks in translation!” In an area that is generally associated with engineering or management, it’s only natural to immediately think of the risk of injury or material damage in a construction project or sizeable losses caused by the CFO’s lack of foresight. But if you work in translation project management, you know that there are some risks that are predictable and as many more that are unpredictable. Delays, technical problems, unforeseen circumstances, bad weather… there’s enough material here for another post.
In late 2015, armed with a decade’s experience as a translation project manager, I was able to get my PMP certification. The certification is, in fact, demanding, but it is also challenging and gratifying at the same time. Not to mention that it is quite expensive and the success rate is relatively low, which means you need to spend a lot of time studying and practising for the exam so that you can avoid the cost (and frustration) of having to do another exam! Before applying for certification, the PMI makes you take part in a training course at least 35 hours long given by an accredited body. I decided to do my training at Rumos, in Porto. Graduates also have to prove they have 4,500 hours of experience in project management. Then, all you have to do is have the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) on the tip of your tongue and pass an exam with 200 questions. The 4-hour exam is done in a Prometric centre near you.
Do you think all this hard work will be enough to convince the rest of the world that there are real project managers in translation too?