;   Medical Translation Insight: How to assemble an effective localization kit - ForeignExchange Translations

Effective localization kits for medical translationsMost people would agree that the successful communication of project expectations and deliverables significantly impacts the final quality of a localized product. Subject matter experts within drug and device companies have vast amounts of knowledge about their products that can easily get lost in the transfer to the translation supplier.

This loss of product knowledge reduces the efficiency of the medical localization effort by:

  • decreasing the accuracy of the vendor's quoting and scheduling process;
  • increasing the time spent by project managers and engineers; and
  • producing inaccurate deliverables.
A localization kit offers a relatively easy solution to these challenges. Created by the client's translation manager, the kit documents the project-specific requirements that otherwise may be lost during the transfer of information to the vendor.

Five tips for creating effective localization kits
1. Standardized content
Each person completing a localization kit will have different ideas as to what should be included, what is important, and how to communicate information to the supplier. Set standards for the types of information to include, what level of detail is appropriate, and general presentation guidelines.

2. Organization
Every product component should have its own localization kit or, at least, its own sections of the main localization kit. This may seem like overkill but it's obvious that software deliverables, web sites, and marketing collateral have expectations that are quite different from one another.

3. Reference external documents
Your organization's linguistic and formatting style guidelines do not need to be repeated in the localization kit. Reference the correct version of these documents in the localization kit, along with information on how to access them.

4. Client approval
All kits should be approved internally prior to handoff to the localization vendor. For example, if a technical writer is compiling the localization kit for printed documentation, the print manager (or print vendor) approves all deliverables listed in the kit.

5. Involve vendor
It is beneficial to have the localization vendor review draft versions of the kit so that they have a chance to ask questions and provide feedback before the final project handoff.

Suggested contents of a localization kit
Every client has unique requirements, timetables, deliverables, and constituencies. As a result, localization kits will vary from company to company, if not from project to project. Nonetheless, a number of components should be included in most kits:
  • Product, project, and component names.
  • Contact information for the localization project managers, engineers, etc.
  • Overview of the product and the target audience.
  • Leveraging information (What is the history of the product? Where can the vendor leverage past translations or glossaries?)
  • Source and target languages or locales.
  • Expectations for review and delivery dates (by component, if necessary).
  • Formatting or stylistic guidelines not included in a separate style guide or print specification.
  • A handoff checklist. (The localization kit may often be accompanied by all or some of the files to be localized, test plans or specifications, in-country review guidelines or contacts, a product specification, etc.)
  • File listings, including an indication of whether or not the files should be translated (this should include support files such as graphics)
  • Deliverables, including versions of applications to be used, part numbers, naming conventions, directory structures, and delivery method.
  • Quality expectations. (What is acceptable quality for this product? Is this a marketing brochure in which the localized content can be customized in order to sound better in the target market? Or is this a technical manual that must accurately reflect the English text?)
  • Specific localization instructions that, depending on the component type, may include information such as:
    - which terms to translate or leave in the source language;
    - which strings are concatenated and how to handle them;
    - which operating systems to test the product on;
    - which browsers to use;
    - build and resizing instructions and guidelines;
    - test plans or testing guidelines;
    - formatting guidelines;
    - print specifications.
Build a strong foundation
Localization kits are not silver bullets. Assembling a localization kit can be an involved process, and they cannot substitute for regular communication between clients and vendors.

However, the benefits far outweigh any negatives. Once designed, a localization kit may be reused for future projects, often with only minor changes. And a localization kit can help avoid the cost, frustration, and delays that result from not clearly stating expectations. A project handoff that is accompanied by a thorough localization kit and the initial source files provides a strong foundation for any medical translation project.

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