Defining and standardizing terminology across languages can become an efficient and rewarding process. Here are six ways to make terminology management more efficient and beneficial for your organization.
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When it comes to translating critical business terms, many see managing terminology in many languages as a costly distraction, and if multilingual terminology is mismanaged, this view is absolutely correct. It takes lots of time and effort to sort through and clarify the myriad terms involved in your business, and it can be a struggle to select terminology everyone agrees on – especially when translation is involved. However, terminology does not have to be a pain point. If managed properly, defining and standardizing terminology across languages can become an efficient and rewarding process.
Some companies may think they can control terminology without established processes or databases. This is not the case – terminology is an integral part of professional communication and it’s all too easy for terms to evolve and deviate when content is being created and translated. Therefore, to ensure your company’s terminology gets standardized, and remains that way throughout the translation process, you must actively manage it using the right guidelines, processes and technology.
Here are six ways to make terminology management more efficient and beneficial for your organization.
1. Increase visibility and accessibility of terminology
Provide a terminology lookup function via your company’s intranet to help employees quickly find a term, its meaning and equivalent terms in other languages. This is more efficient than asking around or sending clarification emails back and forth.
Benefit? Save time, improve transparency, increase the pace of communication and bolster understanding of critical business terms among employees.
2. Encourage your colleagues to contribute
Provide a means for all employees to add concepts or terms to a collective database. Anyone who researches a term or concept should be able to share the results so others can learn from it. The need to research a term is an indication that it is relatively unknown or ambiguous to many employees.
Benefit? Collaboration and knowledge sharing among global employees.
3. Make it easy
Establish a process to relieve your workforce of managing terminology, which can be tedious and detract from employees’ primary focus. Rather, provide a “let the terminologist sort it out” escape route. Leverage internal terminology specialists to manage terms and the process by which they are translated, standardized and controlled. Adding term-check processes / tools for user interfaces and software development can also eliminate inaccuracies that often become evident during later stages of the documentation and translation cycle. Terminology management may also be outsourced, allowing you to free up internal resources to focus on other core competencies.
Benefit? Increase productivity, streamline terminology management and enable internal resources to focus on core competencies, which saves time and money.
4. Manage terminology intelligently
Establish a process to check terminology accuracy in source content / during content creation (i.e., before translation begins). Many terminology errors in translation are due to mistakes or ambiguous phrasing in the original source text. Ensuring precise source text makes the entire translation process more efficient. Discovering terminology errors at the finish line – in translation review – is up to 10 times more expensive than finding and fixing them during source-text creation.
Benefit? Improve time-to-market, reduce frustrating rework and decrease costs.
5. Track root causes
A well-managed, corporate terminology database can uncover gaps or overlaps in products or supplier materials by looking for the meaning behind the words, drawing up conceptual relationships and standardizing the terms in several languages. For example, imagine a manufacturer sources a component called a “fitting nut” to produce widgets. The widget construction department enters the online stockpile-management system to find fitting nuts that will be used to create a new batch of widgets. When they enter the system, they see all of the following terms listed:
- Locking nut
- Fitting nut
- Prevailing torque nut
- Stiff nut
They all seem to be different components, when in fact they are identical. Furthermore, each fitting nut with a different name is sourced from a different supplier and thus prices for the same part vary depending on terminology. Thus, the company could be paying more for some fitting nuts than others. Now imagine how complex the situation gets when we layer in the different languages being used for component names.
If the manufacturer had proper terminology management in place, it would know the four different terms are all the same component and define a standardized term for it, such as “lock nut.” The lists of components in the stockpile-management system would then have fewer variants and the purchasing department would be able to order lock nuts from different suppliers while negotiating the best rates / bulk rebates. Ultimately, having the accurate, efficient terminology management in place would help the company reduce the number of materials to index, improve price negotiation and standardize use of the term enterprise-wide. Standardized content is also less expensive to generate and translate.
Benefit? Optimize purchasing, reduce variation in material stockpiles and reduce cost of content management and translation.
6. Share terminology information with your language solutions provider
Help your language solutions provider deliver high-quality, translated content on time by providing ready-to-use terminology data and guidelines. A solid term base with defined rules can reduce translation turnaround time by as much as 20 minutes per hour.
Benefit? Faster turnaround time, higher quality content, reduced cost and quicker market entry.
The hidden costs of poorly managed terminology are everywhere. They are hidden in meetings to clarify confusion over terms, rework to fix variants or errors, etc. Don’t “eat the cost” of badly managed terms and poorly translated content.
Contact us to learn more about taking control of terminology and establishing an efficient translation process that adds transparency and value to your business.
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About the author
Denis, a Terminology Consultant at AMPLEXOR, has been working in the localization industry with a focus on terminology topics for over 16 years and holds the ECQA Certificate for Terminology Management (advanced). In his career, Denis has covered a wide range of functions from terminology work proper and managing client term-bases, to training colleagues and clients in terminology work and tools, to consulting clients on implementing corporate terminology management. He has also aided in the development of AMPLEXOR’s terminology software applications. When not scrutinizing terms, Denis can often be found in his shed creating pretty or useful things out of wood.