Originally uttered by Don Draper in Mad Men, the sentiment sums up the feelings of many labeling, packaging, regulatory, and, yes, translation professionals. "Nobody reads the manual" is a frequently voiced concern and objection to spending money.
During our annual company meeting in Denver last week, we were reminded why this blasé attitude is off the mark.
Part of our company meeting is dedicated to a client panel. This year, three representatives from medical device companies participated in our get-together. The two-hour discussion between clients and ForeignExchange staff was tremendously inspiring.
Meg, Woody, and Tom made a compelling case for the importance of translation quality. While people tend to be dismissive of medical device labeling, the product doesn't ship without it. And if it's wrong, products get recalled and patients can die. When products get recalled, it has a tremendous impact on a device company's operation, processes, and staff.
Those sentiments extend to translation. "Nobody cares about translation" may be right most of the time - but clients and users sure do care when they find a mistake. Our client panel actually argued that quality is a powerful differentiator, especially in near-comoditized products and services - and that certainly applies to translation.
So what are medical translation providers to do?
First and foremost, translation companies need to build a culture of quality. This needs to extend from top to bottom of the organization. Everybody needs to realize the importance of their actions and feel empowered to contribute to quality.
Predictability of quality is of key importance to medical device companies. Translation services that are sometimes error-free and sometimes riddled with mistakes aren't good enough. Robust systems for risk management, QA, and overall project execution are needed to guarantee clients that their translations are correct - every time.
Organizations that have built a culture of quality realize that quality issues are to be embraced, not hidden. Viewed as positive opportunities for improvement, all employees will identify and solve problems. Repeatable quality doesn't happen without wide-spread ownership of problems.
And wide-spread ownership of problems doesn't happen without management support. Translation quality cannot be delegated to one or two people. Quality must be supported, funded, and rewarded at every level of the organization.
These concepts are deceptively simple. It has taken ForeignExchange years to get to where we are today, and there is always more to do. But last week, our clients provided the motivation and reinforcement for our team to stay committed to our company vision and to make sure that translation quality remains the most important thing for us.
ForeignExchange's METRiQ translation quality methodology provides medical device and pharmaceutical companies with measurable translation quality - every time.