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Avoiding the pitfalls of XML implementation

Avoiding the pitfalls of XML implementation - medical translationSo you have done the math and decided that the answer to making your documentation processes more efficient) is Extensible Markup Language (XML). While the benefits of XML can be substantial, it is wise to be prepared for the problems which may arise during and after implementation.

XML implementations can fail for all kinds of reasons, from unrealistic overall goals to mishandled technical decisions. Interestingly, though, the most severe problems often stem from the interpersonal aspects of introducing and enforcing XML's controlled authoring model, rather than any technical problems with XML or a content management system.

Moving to XML means a significant change in the roles and interactions of staff members. As some medical device and pharmaceutical companies have found out, these fundamental changes are met with resistance or even hostility. Writers may find their work becomes less interesting, and some employees will be unwilling to accept the stringent controls that come with an XML system.

For all of these reasons, you may experience an increased turnover in staff during the transition. It is vital that you properly train and prepare staff for the coming changes. Make them part of the process and obtain buy-in by helping them understand the benefits that will come with XML.

It can be a daunting task to structure, index and tag with meta data all of your existing content. However, it is important to do so. If writers have problems quickly finding the text they need, chances are they will simply write a new version.

Perhaps the biggest challenge lay in choosing an XML-based messaging standard. Currently there are more than 100, and that number is growing. The standard you choose will determine how easily you can communicate, both within and outside of your company.

One solution is to define a message format that works well for your business and stick with it, translating in and out of that format as necessary. The alternative, trying to maintain a database of documents in dozens of other common formats, would represent a massive amount of work for a limited return on investment.

Whatever path you choose, embrace the XML world!


ForeignExchange Translations provides specialized medical translation services to the world's leading pharmaceutical and medical device companies.
 

1 Comment:

  1. Localization Localisation said...
    I completely agree with your analysis that the most daunting problems are more likely to come from the people or groups involved than the technology.
    Our experience is not in the medical field, but still a good example of what you're saying (http://localizationlocalisation.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/xml-in-localisation-what-can-it-really-do-for-us/).
    As often when you want to implement a process which improves localisation, you have to make changes beyond the area of creating localised content.
    XML is even more so and unless you have the political and diplomatic ability to influence the process from its source, namely authoring and possibly branding/marketing, you will run into potentially show-stopping issues.

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