Dr. Tom's Independent Software Reviews



Sandhills Software, Inc. was founded in 1999 to develop tools for the language translation industry. Sandhills Software has worked closely with leading translation organizations to develop the first Web based Intranet/Extranet application to manage all aspects of the document translation process. The so-called Language Translation Resource Automation Console (LTRAC) system combines a series of public and password protected Web pages to create an Intranet/Extranet environment for your company and customers. In addition to LTRAC, Sandhills Software has also developed PDFCount for Acrobat and the email automation application 4MailHandler.

Fig. 1: LTRAC Vendor Management: Selection and editing of Vendor information within the LTRAC system is very easy and effective
Please click on the image for a closer look!


LTRAC (Language Translation Resource Automation Console) is a complete 100% Web based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Project Management (PM) tool especially designed for language service providers of all sizes. LTRAC includes a central dynamic database of translation customers (Clients), in-house project managers (Employees), language professionals as subcontractors (Vendors), and individual project details with all related files. All information is contained in a single database. All users have real time access anytime and anywhere using their Web browser. Dependent of the role in the workflow, you can access different modules of the system.
Project managers can quickly locate the most qualified translators, generate project quotations, create project schedules, issue vendor purchase orders, deliver target language documents and create client invoices. In addition, the LTRAC vendor database allows you to easily expand and manage your worldwide translation vendors. Business owners assisted with a powerful job cost accounting along with accounts receivable, accounts payable and sales commission tracking. Standard reports include Receivables, Payables, Sales, Revenue, and Work In Progress. The LTRAC Document Management Module stores all project related electronic files. Clients, Vendors and Project Managers upload and download files from the Document Management Module as defined by the LTRAC workflow model.
Each LTRAC user has a unique login and interacts with LTRAC based on the role in the project workflow from their custom home page.
LTRAC covers every phase of your language services business. You can track each stage of the document translation process from initial client pricing to final invoice. LTRAC enables real time interaction with your clients, vendors and within your organization.
The standard LTRAC workflow provides your company with standard forms, and business procedures to simplify employee training.


Editions & Prices:

LTRACTM Turn-Key Program: Custom System Setup guided by Sandhills Software's expertise, guidance and best practices. All strategies come with a fixed-bid implementation guarantee.

LTRACTM Quick Start Program: Designed for companies who require little customization of the LTRAC workflow and are ready to start using LTRAC as is. The LTRAC Quick Start service includes a low-cost training program to jumpstart the implementation. Includes customization of LTRAC with your corporate logo, public, intranet and extranet pages as well as forms.

Various Support and Hosting Services. For additional information and pricing, please contact Sandhills Software

Fig. 2: LTRAC Project Management: The entry page of an Employee shows a well organized overview and allows fast access to all important aspects of projects
You may click on the image for a closer look!

Usage & Evaluation

LTRAC is a very powerful web application handling all aspects of the project management in small and medium translation businesses. Going through the test drive I received for this review, I observed only a few shortcomings of the system - most of them not even very serious:
A first irritation was the dependency of the web application on the Microsoft (MS) Internet Explorer (IE) although the advertisement promised platform and browser independence. However, the dependency on MS IE proofed to be more a recommendation than a real dependency as all functionality was also possible using Netscape (Mozilla) and Opera with a few minor design errors.
LTRAC is currently based on a MS Access database. I therefore feared that only a maximum of 100 user accounts could be handled. Sandhills Software explained that this limit is bypassed by the server architecture being based on Macromedia Cold Fusion Server. MS Access therefore only sees one user. Sandhills Software therefore estimates that this architecture allows between 1,000 and 1,500 virtual users. However, during a prolonged usage time, the number of records in the Access database will decrease performance. For larger cooperations, LTRAC will therefore provide migration to SQL with their Turn Key application.
Another minor inconvenience is the selection of multiple items within drop-down boxes which requires the continuous pressing of the Ctrl-key. It is quite easy to loose a large, time-consuming selection due to an accidental release of the Ctrl-key. In addition, I would have liked the option to display the progress and scheduling of my projects as a Gantt-Diagramm which is a standard display in most project management solutions. Furthermore, the planned multilingual interface is still missing.

Compared to the only serious shortcoming of LTRAC, the above are only peanuts: LTRAC lacks any secure server area. This is most disturbing when credit card details are transferred without SSL or any other security. I hope this dangerous practice will be soon fixed!

Fig. 3: LTRAC Vendor Bid Summary and Project Scheduling
You may click on the image for a closer look

But there are also more positive sides of LTRAC: you can easily import client and other previously established data and you will have the support of a competent and dedicated support team with a response time of less than 24 hours.

In the moment, LTRAC is a powerful but not cheap solution and therefore not suitable for freelancers and small agencies. In order to increase LTRAC's suitability for this clientele, Sandhills Software plans to release an ASP version later this year (LTRAC Express) featuring an initial set up fee with monthly user and hosting fees.

System Requirements:
Server: Microsoft Advanced Server, Cold Fusion 5.0
Client: Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher

Company Information:
Sandhills Software, Inc., 9220 Teddy Lane Suite 1100, Lone Tree, Colorado 80124, USA; Phone: +1 303-679-7321, Fax: +1 303-683-2874; E-Mail: sales@ltrac.com; URL: http://www.ltrac.com



© 2003 by Dr. Thomas Wassmer, e-mail: tom at softreviews.org

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