Content, however, is what brings people to your web site and your marketing. As a direct result, the legal translation of that content into as many languages as possible is going to increase in importance right alongside it, because your content will only be as powerful as the number of people who can read it. This means that the main thing every business in the world needs if they’re planning on being truly global is a Content Management System (CMS).
A CMS can be either a discrete system of software that you use to manage your content, or a combination of systems, both software and simply procedural. I think either approach works; the main advantage of buying a CMS ‘off the shelf’ is that the common problems of setting up a CMS are already solved for you, and you usually get support and customisation work included in the purchase price. But you can certainly use some tools you already have on hand and create your own. The CMS performs a few vital functions in regards to your content.
First and foremost, your CMS is where you content is created. A good CMS includes robust authoring tools, usually with industry-specific tools built in to make certain aspects of the creation easier. These can be simply widgets or macros created to automated repeated actions, or whole applications with specific purposes.
CMS systems normally include collaboration tools so a team of people can work on specific content simultaneously. The CMS keeps track of every access to the content and every change made, and so people can work at the same time without fouling up each other’s contributions. An ‘administrator’ can then go through all recorded changes and decide what to keep and what to reject, finally ending up with a final ‘master’ version.
A CMS system in the modern age has to be able to tag the content. This tagging can be very light and generic (say, simple HTML tagging) or it can be very deep and granular, capturing a lot of semantic detail about the content and formalising metadata. Almost every modern CMS system will offer basic XML tagging, which is usually flexible enough to be translated into a variety of other tagsets, HTML included.
A content managament system is critical for any business that wants to see its content all over the world. As a document translation pro, you’ve got to accept that you’ll be increasingly asked to work within the confines of a CMS in the coming years.