Risk management: the Blue Board

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The ProZ.com Blue Board is a searchable database of language job outsourcers with feedback from service providers. Paying members of ProZ.com have unlimited access to all records in the Blue Board. Non-members may gain permanent access to a single outsourcer's record by making a one-time payment of either $0.50 or 50 browniz points. The Blue Board is one of the options under the Jobs & directories tab in the main menu. The Blue Board is also accessible by typing this URL directly: http://www.proz.com/blueboard

Once you are at the Blue Board, you can search outsourcers by name and location and even save your search parameters for future reference. Members are also given the option to sort search results alphabetically or by LWA average.

The Blue Board can be used as an important risk management tool when evaluating working with new clients. It should be noted that many other risk management tools also exist, and translators are encouraged to combine these tools rather than rely solely on one in order to decrease risk.

Terms used in conjunction with the Blue Board

  • Outsourcer: An umbrella term that includes agencies, companies, clients and any other entity or person that buys translation services. The Blue Board is a database of outsourcers accompanied by service provider entries.
  • Entry, or LWA entry: A service provider makes an "entry" to a Blue Board record expressing his or her likelihood of working again with a given outsourcer. (Terms like "rating", "review", etc., are misleading and should be avoided.)
  • LWA: LWA is short for a service provider's self-expressed "Likelihood of Working Again" with a given outsourcer. It is a number from 1 (very unlikely to work again) to 5 (very likely to work again).
  • Comment: An entry consists of an LWA (required) and a comment (optional). Comments should be limited in scope to explanation/grounds for the LWA; they may not include general statements concerning an outsourcer.
  • Reply: When an entry is made, the corresponding outsourcer is given an opportunity to make a one-line "reply." Like comments by service providers, replies from outsourcers must be restricted to the independent experience. Personal remarks in comments or replies are not acceptable and will be removed by the site staff upon request.
  • Poster: A service provider or outsourcer who makes an entry or reply.
  • Average entry level: Aggregate figure representing the average LWA expressed for a single outsourcer by service providers
  • Record, or Blue Board record: A page of entries/LWA's made concerning a single outsourcer. Records are accessible using URLs of this format: http://www.proz.com/bb/#

General considerations when interpreting information posted on the Blue Board

  • Take into consideration the activity levels, identity verification status, membership levels, registration numbers and other characteristics of those providing feedback.
  • Take into consideration the numerical LWA entry (1-5), but also the comments entered for each entry (many find the comments as helpful or more so in evaluating a record)
  • If you feel the feedback posted to a given record is insufficient, you can use the "Call for entries" feature on the record to request that translators who have worked for that outsourcer provide feedback.
  • Do not rely solely on entries posted. You are encouraged to form your own opinions concerning outsourcers from your experiences in working with, or negotiating with, outsourcers personally.

Approaches used in managing risk with the Blue Board

Different translators report using different approaches or methods when it comes to interpreting the information on the Blue Board and in working it into their risk management in general. Some of these are listed here. Using a combination of these approaches may be more effective than using just one.

Quality and not quantity of entries

Some experienced professionals have pointed out that it is not necessarily the quantity of negative entries that matters in some cases, and that if a record contains generally good feedback but one or two credible negative LWA entries, these should be taken seriously and perhaps investigated further.

Contacting feedback providers for more information

Some have found it insightful to contact those who have provided feedback on a given record (most often in the case of negative feedback, but not always) to ask for more information on working with that outsourcer. In general translators contacted are willing and happy to share their experiences, and may be able to provide useful details not encompassed in the comment field of the entry itself.

Leaving your feedback will help others

Just as reviewing feedback left on a Blue Board record can help you to assess a potentially new client, your feedback once you have worked for an outsourcer will assist others in doing the same. Make sure you are familiar with the conditions to be met before making an entry and remember to provide feedback on the outsourcers with which you have worked. Don't leave feedback only when it is negative-- positive feedback and precise comments can be equally helpful.

Further reading

Discussion related to this article

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