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How to coordinate terminology

How to coordinate terminology (medical translation)There are many good reasons to manage terminology - improved branding, better quality, ability to enforce compliance, reduced costs, and faster time to market.

Despite all of these reason, few are the medical device and pharmaceutical companies that have in place terminology management strategies. Sometimes it's because the ROI is unclear - but there is now information to help with that. At other times it's because there are few role models - but some details are available on how Medtronic manages terminology.

The most common reason reason, however, is the absence of a terminology leader. Few are the folks within drug and device companies that have the skills to lead such an effort. And because management doesn't understand the benefits of terminology management, they usually don't go and hire somebody with the necessary expertise.

If there was such a person in your organization, the process of implementing and managing multilingual terminology is really rather straightforward. 20 years ago, this was difficult. But today, we have tools, best practices, and the Internet as a resource.

A recent issue of tcworld highlighted this fact rather nicely. Coordinating terminology shows how shared and coordinated work processes make terminology management a productive and scaleable undertaking.

But the article points out that appointing a terminology leader is critical, because:

"A terminology project will flounder without a person holding responsibility for it, one who takes care of the details, coordinates and is available as point of contact. The contact person should be from the company, because an external person usually has too little support and authority for decisions, too little knowledge of internal process flows and also cannot 'force' the individual members of the terminology group to an agreement.
Sure, every organization needs a different set of processes; there isn't a "one size fits all" solution. And you need tools and processes. But managing terminology doesn't have to be a huge undertaking. It can be done in simple and low cost ways.

Progress towards coordinated terminology management is slow at medical device and pharmaceutical companies. Authoring and translation managers should take a look at the tcworld article and think about whether the time has come to appoint a terminology leader and get serious about terminology management.

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


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