For life sciences companies expanding into new markets and conducting global clinical trials, accurate translation is critical for effectively communicating with patients. Companies are continually looking for ways to reduce costs and turnaround times of translating extensive clinical documentation, without losing quality.
Translation memory (TM) can be a great resource to help resolve these issues while maintaining consistency in translations. However, there are some important considerations companies should note when choosing their language services provider (LSP) as well as whether or not to utilize the technology.
What Is Translation Memory?
Translation memory is a database that stores previously translated content to help translators maintain consistency in their work. It stores the units (technical terms or phrases) that can be reused for future translations. Making these words easily accessible helps to speed up the translation process as well as make the translation consistent and accurate.
TM also helps reduce long-term translation costs for companies seeking global market access, as previously translated content can be used in future translations.
Utilizing Translation Memory in Life Sciences
Using TM brings undeniable benefits in particular industries. For example, in life sciences, every stage of the product life cycle is accompanied by documentation packages. In most cases, content within those documents can be highly repetitive (like brochures, protocols, and other materials).
Life sciences companies are often represented globally and conduct studies across different countries, which can require localization into multiple languages. Even when using TM, the beginning translation expenses may still be a challenge in low-cost markets. This is because local representative offices may be used to working with local language service providers.
Long-Term Benefits of Translation Memory
While there are challenges in using TM, in the long run it can definitely bring benefits outside of just cost-savings and scheduling efficiencies.
Global LSPs almost always stand out from local competitors in terms of pricing. However, TM gives local companies the ability to gain access to high quality standards, data security, technology, and innovations.
Translation Memory in Low-Cost Markets
Thanks to TM, translation becomes affordable to companies in low-cost markets. Businesses seeking access to new markets have an opportunity to optimize translation workflow with a global LSP for a slightly increased price. This saves companies time and enables them to utilize other LSPs who offer more complex services and capabilities.
In time, companies in low-cost markets realize the benefits of partnering with sustainable global LSPs. The guarantee of reliable, safe, and quality service outweighs the benefit of any early savings.
3 Main Concerns for TM
Across all industries, particularly highly technical ones like life sciences, there are three main pain points for global businesses seeking translation services:
While all three components are important, the level of importance depends on the organization’s individual needs and priorities. For example, for Latin American businesses, we’ve found that pricing was most important, then timeline, then quality.
Pricing is a key factor when presenting TM. It’s important to show the benefit of translation volume vs. cost efficiency over time.
Turnaround times are also a big concern for life sciences organizations, not only because of meeting project deadlines, but also due to strict regulatory timelines. Faster turnaround times can be expected with a more robust TM solution.
Regardless of the industry or use-case, global companies require the highest quality translation to effectively communicate with their target audience. Quality is especially important across life sciences, not only for the reasons listed above, but also because the content directly impacts patients’ lives. Clinical documentation like dosage instructions, questionnaires for clinical trial data collection, drug labels, adverse event reports, and more all require the utmost accuracy to gain regulatory approval and ensure patient safety. Inaccurate translation can cause, at best, delayed timelines and higher costs and, at worst, increased risk of errors in data collection and product communications.
Setting Translation Vendor Expectations
In addition to the three main points listed above, there are a few other things to consider when selecting an LSP partner. For one, make sure to consider whether the vendor has internal resources or technology such as translation memory. Building a long-term relationship with such a vendor will allow you to fulfill your goals.
It’s also important to understand the translation workflow and how that will be implemented into your processes. For example, in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, most of the businesses have in-country reviewers for the local language. So spending additional time for internal review after receiving a translation from a vendor is often a pain point for the organization. This is important for companies in the region to recognize when choosing their vendor and whether to leverage TM.
Lastly, if your organization handles bulk document submission requiring a short turnaround time (i.e., Common Technical Documents), you can better handle the high volume and ensure receptiveness by using TM. If you receive another submission for a new dossier, TM will provide lower costs, faster turnaround times, and greater consistency. When selecting your LSP, be sure that they have experience and expertise managing projects with many documents for fast and accurate translation.
TransPerfect has offices in over 100 cities and has successfully implemented the TM concept with businesses expanding into new markets around the world. If you’re interested in learning more about TM, contact us at today.