Top Tips for Using Translation Memories and Terminology When Outsourcing Translation Work

As a Business Consultant within the Translation Productivity team at SDL, I spend my time speaking to corporations who already use, or are looking to work with, technology as part of their translation process.

Companies who outsource translation work, but that still use translation technology internally to help with project management or simply to retain control of their assets, often ask for advice on how best to use the technology. Whilst there is no one answer, there are a few simple tips to bear in mind.

Keep it simple

A common practice that I see in many companies is the storage of terminology in multiple termbases. Different termbases are created for each individual product, or each department, or for each different language they translate. And whilst you will hold multiple translation memories (TMs) according to specific language pairs, the same should not be true for termbases.

I find the best approach is to have one termbase and then use various definition entries or categories to compliment the term in question. This allows users to categorize terms according to product type, marketing campaign, department or by type of translation work for example. Using categories in this way not only makes it easier to filter for terms and manage the termbase, it could also prohibit certain categories being accessed by your translation vendor or various stakeholders, depending on job requirement and level of access. Maintaining only one termbase also means that it is easier to achieve global consistency because each term entry is compared across the supported languages within the termbase.

Keep it safe

Of course good translation vendors act responsibly with translation data but you may still want to put measures in place to protect your company’s precious translation assets even further. Think about making sure that only the people you want to access your TM have access by password protecting it and by working with project translation memories.

You can also manage who gets to access what when it comes to terminology. By not only assigning authentication privileges but also by using categories within your terms as described earlier in this blog. For example, you may not want your translation vendor to have access to your legal terminology for example, but you do want to share less sensitive terminology.

Ideally, termbases should be accessible to a wide range of users and not restricted to those within the translation cycle. Naturally this comes with a concern of policing the various inputs made by others. By setting privilege rights, it makes sure that any changes or additions added to the termbase have to be approved by the owner of a category or administrator before they are made.

Of course there are many different ways of working with translation memories and terminology, but I do hope that these tips will give you food for thought when it comes to your own work practices.