Will a Translation Management System (TMS) Alleviate Localization Headaches?

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I can’t help but notice the trend occurring in the translation and localization industry in which many Language Service Providers (LSP) are selling an ‘in-house’ enterprise Translation Management System (TMS) to life sciences organizations as a one size fits all magic bullet—and a necessity for any organization with continuous localization requirements.

TMS is being positioned as having the ability to solve any and all problems that an enterprise encounters in localization. Rarely, however, do clients get a view “behind the curtain” to understand the potential pitfalls of implementing a TMS before the investment has been made and the software implemented.

In certain instances, a TMS is the best path toward lowering costs and managing translation and review workflows across an enterprise. That being said, however, in many translation requirement scenarios, my take is that a TMS is not the ideal solution as it quite simply doesn’t return any significant ROI. At a time when life sciences companies operate in a ‘do more with less’ environment as they struggle to get drugs, diagnostics and devices to market faster and more economically, rapid ROI is a mandate.

Don’t get me wrong, with almost a decade of localization experience, I am a big proponent of technology utilization and the efficiencies that may be found in a proper TMS deployment. That enthusiasm does come with the caveat: that a TMS only adds value when implemented in the right environment.

The reasons behind whether an enterprise TMS may be the right fit for your organization are numerous, and are specific to each unique organization. While each case is different, there are some common pitfalls that any Localization Manager or buyer should be aware of before purchasing and implementing an enterprise TMS.

To help paint the picture, I’ve outlined some key factors as to why a TMS may not deliver the value that may have initially appeared on the surface. I’ve also provided a contrasting approach for an alternate consideration which illustrates the value that could be derived from a partnership with a managed services provider:

Resources: TMS systems must continuously be managed and maintained. Oftentimes, this is not made clear to the first time technology buyer. In order to have a fully functional deployment that maximizes all of the system’s capabilities, you would need a full-time (or almost full-time) localization expert to manage workflows, translation memories, glossaries, references, style guides, out of the box requests, and internal user requests and training.  Make no mistake, this is not a plug in and walk away model.  This is a hands-on effort that takes time and attention each day, every day.

Deployment and Maintenance Costs: Most buyers understand that a TMS typically requires an initial investment through either an upfront licensing or SAAS fees. Yet, what many buyers don’t realize is that following the software’s initial configuration to meet preferences and workflows, these workflows and requirements— just like enterprises themselves— evolve over time. Subsequently, workflows in the TMS must be updated to reflect these evolutions. Usually, these maintenance cycles can only be completed by the TMS provider, and they are charged as additional costs above and beyond the initial software license or SAAS fees. And the costs can be quite significant.

Ease of Use: Most Translation Management Systems are designed to incorporate robust features that are well-understood by a translation expert, but can be extremely confusing to the lay person. The result is that the feature-rich platforms can actually alienate the non-technical user with all of the extensive training required to ensure full utilization by requestors and business users.

These are just three examples of the potential pitfalls for organizations to consider when investing in an enterprise translation management system. And there are many more when you drill down to specific life science industry and client requirements. After a comprehensive review, a TMS may be the best solution for your organization having vetted any and all possible implementation hurdles. In contrast, however, I’d like to offer an alternative.

The managed services approach: A better way?

By approaching your enterprise translation requirements with a managed services partner, you gain the workflow automation provided by an enterprise TMS without the investments in license fees and maintenance, nor without the need for a dedicated in-house translation manager.

Lionbridge’s Managed Translation Services combine high-quality, in-country translation resources expert in life science content, with centralized management processes to deliver reliable, centrally-managed translation services around the world. We work with organizations to address the language, regulatory, compliance and culture issues to ensure that international audiences evaluate your content and perceive your products as you intend. Technology is seamlessly integrated into our approach free-of-charge via Freeway, our user-friendly, online submission and tracking portal which includes the project tracking and reporting metrics once only available through an enterprise TMS.

The end result? An approach that requires very little customer project management time and completely eliminates the need for any upfront investments.  Other benefits?  No need for an internal translation manager nor costly in-house TMS. The payoff? ROI goes up and internal resource requirements go down.

Our managed translation services allow you to:

  • Adapt products, packaging, content and websites to meet the diverse requirements of your global customer base
  • Lower your translation costs
  • Reduce client side project management significantly
  • Accelerate time-to-market
  • Leverage translation assets and technology across all projects
  • Gain  a project submission and tracking portal at no additional cost
  • Institute  a centralized process backed by local in-country expertise

Lionbridge translation teams include staff linguists, project managers, and life sciences subject matter experts in 27 countries, covering over 250 languages. Our teams understand how to optimize workloads, track individual capabilities and error rates, and assure consistency–not only between translators working in a single language, but also among multi-language teams. Our solution will result in program-level processes and oversight from a trusted partner who acts as an extension of your internal teams.

Providing cost reduction, robust features, and life sciences expertise you can count on, managed services from Lionbridge may be the best solution for your enterprise language requirements.

Is now the time to take a hard look at your organization’s requirements and capabilities and ask, ‘Do I really need a TMS, or will the right life sciences-experienced partner be the smart answer to my organization’s localization needs?’

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