According to our research, 40% of small translation companies and up to 15% of midsize ones come to Smartcat after managing their translation projects in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Let’s see why they make the switch, and why you should, too.

How the story goes

We’ve all been there: You want to keep track of your translation projects, so you quickly create a spreadsheet in Excel. Let’s say it goes something like this:

So far so good, right?

But over time, you need to track more parameters…

… add more projects and customers…

… and more people to manage them…

Fast-forward a year, and you have an ugly mess of a spreadsheet that only a mother can love. What’s the big deal, you might ask? Why fix what’s not broken?

Well, we can’t answer for your specific situation, but here’s the kinds of inefficiencies we saw with our customers who switched to Smartcat from an “Excel TMS”.

Pains

Reinventing the wheel

You might argue that when you build your spreadsheet, you can fine-tune it to your own processes and make it just the way you want it. In reality, though, you’ll be facing a lot of design choices that many before you have already faced — and solved. Yes, it might take a while to get used to the way things work in “some tool”, but in return you’ll be using something that specialized developers have put a lot of time and effort into for the benefit of the whole industry.

Spreadsheets are not omnipotent

It might be tempting to think that you can do anything with a spreadsheet. But you really can’t. At some point you’re bound to run into something that cells and formulas can’t help with: For example, assigning linguists or issuing invoices. Unless your side gig is software engineering and you are willing to invest hundreds of hours writing add-ons that will make it work “just the way you need it.”

Versioning hell

When it’s just you, it’s easy to track everything in an Excel file. But as you grow, you inevitably need to exchange information with your colleagues. Sending over that Excel file and trying not to get a versioning mess is a challenge in itself, not to mention that such communication is way slower than what might be necessary in a modern setting.

Data corruption

Of course, you could use a shared online spreadsheet instead. But then you run into problems with access control. Project managers start seeing each other’s projects, which is inconvenient at best and insecure at worst. Someone can accidentally break a formula that you use to calculate returns without your even noticing, and your whole revenue report is suddenly a mess.

Low performance

Spreadsheets are not meant to be used for tracking thousands of projects. The more you enter and manage, the slower it will go. So you will be left with either the choice of deleting old lines, splitting the “database” into several spreadsheets, or just getting used to the low performance. Obviously, none of these options is really a solution to the problem.

The Solution

We get it: You have already put so much effort into it that you don’t even want to think about letting it go. It doesn’t help that most TMS tools cost an arm and a leg, so you might be tempted to keep doing things the “good old way”, even if you know it’s not that, well, good.

Luckily, there’s Smartcat, which is free to use with most of the features you might need in the beginning. And, as you grow, the subscription price starts at $249 as of this writing, and does not depend on the number of users you want to have in your account — the #NoLicense approach.

Smartcat is also arguably the most comprehensive TMS out there as it includes not just project management but also content synchronization, translation automation a.k.a. CAT tool, the largest industry marketplace, and automated invoicing and payments. You can even create ready-to-go projects and customer quotes using a website URL, which Smartcat will automagically turn into an XLIFF file.

If you’re already using another CAT tool, you can easily use it with Smartcat. The platform does not lock you in, and you can export all your projects, translation memories, glossaries, and whatnot in industry-standard formats and import them in the CAT tool of your choice. In short, this means you have complete CAT interoperability in Smartcat.

As for the “Excel TMS”, you know it’s not a great approach in 2020. It’s time to admit it’s holding you back. And now is your chance to move forward.