Re: Translation of Op. Manuals

Subject: Re: Translation of Op. Manuals
From: Andres Heuberger <andresh -at- fxtrans -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2001 12:36:00 -0500


Your questions are right on the money. Here are some thoughts:

Who is typically responsible for translation of software? I can see reasons
why I'd want my department to handle these translations. It would be a
little easier to coordinate the translations (ensure same translation agency
is used, ensure consistency of translations between software and op.
manual). But on the other hand, it could lead to overload after a while if
all software comes through us to be translated.

As you might imagine, this differs from company to company. Many of client contacts are, in fact, technical writers. Others work in the regulatory/quality groups, while others work in the marketing organization.

A lot of it comes down to: a) which department pays for translations, b) who has prior experience managing translations (esp. in smaller companies), and c) who has a personal interest in this area.

How is the review of translated text handled? How much faith should you put
in the translation agency to effectively translate your software and text?

This is one of the most challenging parts of managing medical translation efforts. On one hand, most companies require reviewers to be in compliance with various standards. On the other hand, in-country reviews can become "black holes" -- translations enter but never come back.

The following review processes are common:
* full-service: the translation vendor manages the entire process, including scheduling, reviewer communications, and any reminders
* self-service: the translation vendor sends the translated documents to the client and the client handles the reviews (reviewed files may be returned to the vendor for finalizing or DTP work)
* no review: obvious enough...

Regarding your question of putting faith in your vendor's capabilities, you obviously need a certain amount of trust otherwise they are the wrong partner for you. Having said that, here are some items to consider:

* Make sure that you know who will do the actual translation work. What, if anything, do the translators know about devices in general and your company's devices in particular?
* Will a translation memory and/or glossary be developed? You should insist on both.
* What quality metrics will be defined and tracked? Without objective standards, linguistic quality is notoriously difficult to assess.
* Include a round of "in-country review analysis" . This extra service has the checkers being checked. In other words, the translation vendor reviews each change made by your reviewers and brings any red flags to your attention (significant changes to text, additions/deletions, etc.).

A recent issue of our newsletter (Multilingual Compliance News) dealt with this challenge. Please let me know off-list if you would like to receive this issue.

One agency we've spoken with will send translated text to the
representatives of our company in the respective countries for review and
then incorporate changes.

This is pretty standard. Most of our clients ask their reviewers to enter their changes directly into the provided translation files. This is usually easier for the reviewers too. In situations where reviewers make changes by hand, it is important that a native speaker enter the changes.

I'd appreciate any input or resources from people with experience handling

A couple of resources to look at:

* (to our Multilingual Compliance News newsletter)

Good luck,

ForeignExchange Translations, Inc.
Expert translations for medical device manufacturers

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