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Karolina Sarul
By
January 20, 2020
8 min read

What Does Translation Memory Technology Mean for Your Business

translation memory technology

Do you remember when your boss told you to talk to that localization company (“What is even localization?! GPS or something?” I thought, just to learn later on about the whole translation industry) because they have these magic tools that will help us save a substantial amount of money on our marketing and product-related content translation? Did it sound legit to you then? I do remember, in my first days as a BDR in the translation industry that I thought it is a costly business (or at least not a bang for the buck) and wondering how I am supposed to convince anybody that it pays off and also brings savings to the table.

And then I went through training on translation memory technology. That was a revelation, an eye-opener and I already imagined these heaps of US Dollars and Euros staying in my prospects’ pockets (well, to be honest, as every BDR in this world, I imagined money in my pocket as well slightly before that).

So what’s that gold? Translation memory (or a TM) saves you money by reusing your past translations stored in it. This technology also improves the translators' productivity (time = money), translation consistency (quality) and in turn cuts your current and future translation and localization costs. That’s why it’s a foundation for professional CATs (Computer-Aided Translation). Thanks to these tools you can leverage existing source and target content for future use. Here are some examples of leading CAT tools:

 

SDL Trados

memoQ

Memsource

Wordfast

Smartling

smartCAT

XTM

Déjà vu

MateCat

 

Even though most translation agencies use CAT tools, this is what you need to look at when choosing a localization company for your translation needs. There are, of course, other factors, too, that need to be taken into account when selecting your translation provider and some other important questions need to be asked as well.

ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

Now, let’s take a closer look at what translation memory means for your business and how to make sure you really benefit from it to the fullest of its potential.

 

Translation Memory, Your Content and Money

Some sources on translation memory claim that it is very important what content type you want to use the TM technology for. But it’s not true. Translation memory returns high ROI and generates huge savings no matter whether you localize a website, a traditional or technical marketing brochure, software/app, technical documentation/user manual or an e-learning course. It is good if a text is repetitive, especially if it’s your first translation project, but later on the rule is simple: MIMO – More (Content) In (TM), More (savings and ROI) Out (in your pocket). Your time-to-market is reduced and you can introduce your product and associated content to international markets faster, more efficiently and with better results.

 

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Speaking of being repetitive, the quality of the source matters. Saying exactly the same thing in 53 ways (yes, it’s a real-life case of some user’s manual) is both tough on your client and counter-productive. TM and CAT tools work this way: if you use “Don’t touch this button!” in your publication 53 times, you will pay the full rate for the first occurrence (this is called a “segment”, a meaningful portion of text, not only a sentence) and from 0 to 25% for the remaining 52. But if you try to be a poet rather than a conscious Simplified Technical English (ASD-STE100) technical writer, you pay 53 times the same rate. Huge $ difference, isn’t it? Now think about the case when this segment repeats in the documentation of your 15 products, 53 times in each. You got the whole thing now, don’t you?

Any new translations are added to the translation memory which grows bigger and bigger, just as your pile of saved money you can spend on something else, and segments from those translations can be recognized again in the future translation projects. The more you translate (with one translation partner), the more you save. MIMO, remember?

Let’s get back to money for a moment. What are the substantial savings you can have thanks to translation memory? Some say you can save up to 25% on your overall translation project, GALA mentions the average savings of 36%. How is it possible at all? When your currently translated segments ideally match segments translated in the past, you usually end up paying nothing or the price is really low, for instance, 10% of the usual rate. If the segments match only partially (fuzzy matches, where the similarity to the TM match is expressed as %), you will pay only for the parts that do not match, which still generates savings from 25% to even 50% per segment.

When it comes to paying your translation company, you are always provided with clear information about what you actually pay for in the form of an analysis that is ready to be used in the quote. You are provided with details of how many segments are full matches, fuzzy matches, repetitions and what is the actual number of words that you have to pay for in full (so-called “no matches”). This transparency works to your advantage. How? Let’s talk about the next condition.

 

Content Creation With Localization in Mind

Creating content with translation and localization in mind is crucial for the translation process to generate savings. Let’s look at it from the perspective of CAT tools and translation memory technology.

Referring back to what I said in the last paragraph: your localization company’s transparency about how much you pay and for what, allows you to reflect on the future content you will create or the content you are already creating. Knowing how much you can save and how it actually happens should inspire you to make sure your content, regardless of its type, is CAT-friendly. Regardless of whether it is technical documentation or marketing content, making sure certain information is repeatable where it can be is essential.

Consistency has to also be kept in mind when content is created. Changes made to segments of texts that have already been translated and put to use, affect the CAT tool’s recognition of these segments as matches or fuzzy matches or no matches at all. This impacts the final price you pay in the end. It seems obvious, and yet, situations happen when content that should seemingly contain repeatable segments was tweaked or completely reformatted, which resulted in surprising the customer with a price higher than they have estimated. Avoid that trap and temptation at any cost.

Keeping localization in mind, at the content creation stage you should also make sure that the language you use is appropriate (this also helps in machine translation, of course, but it's a different story). Avoiding unnecessary noise in the form of nuances, idioms, emotional language and culturally ambiguous expressions helps you to not only properly address your international audience, but also makes it possible for the translators’ tools to fully extract the repetitive parts of your content. Here’s where the knowledge of Simplified Technical English (STE) aspects comes in handy.

I strongly stress the fact that this all will support not only to highly repeatable content like technical or other text that is written in a simpler style and contains repeatable terminology, but it also refers to marketing collateral. After all, marketing means talking about the same subject in a different way, putting it in a different context while keeping a consistent style, voice and tone throughout the content. This means that some segments of every marketing content will be repeatable. Marketing translation does not necessarily have to mean spending enormous sums of money on it, as long as the marketing content is created with localization in mind and with knowledge about the mechanisms behind the process allowing you to save some money in your budget. You can do wonders with 0.5% of your annual revenue spent on translation.

Creating content with localization in mind helps to meet the next condition that also allows you to save a lot of money on your translations. Read on.

Don’t change the source content that has already been translated unless you really need to.

Once you have your content translated and you decide to implement significant changes to the source, when you send it to be translated again, you might end up feeling surprised by the price.

Take website localization, for instance. When you have a localized website and your team decides to change certain tags (XML, HTML and other formats) on it or any other aspect of the site’s formatting, this means the CAT tool may treat the segments in the newly sent source file as new ones. This is just a tool, it recognizes what it “knows and remembers” the way it was originally submitted. This means a lower number of segments that match the previously translated ones stored in the TM. So, again, when creating content with localization in mind, try to create the final version so that no significant changes have to be made.

Of course, sometimes those cannot be avoided and then just keep in mind that the savings might be lower than you thought. The good thing is that usually businesses that recognize the benefits of having their content translated into one language, tend to translate into more languages later in order to address more markets. This means that in the long run you will still save a considerable amount of money because the more you translate and the fewer changes you make in time, the more segments the CAT tools recognize as already translated. So, if any changes need to be implemented, it is important to remember that this will impact the translation process and its time efficiency and cost. Data is money. Don’t waste your money in vain, invest in translation memory.

 

Choosing the Right Localization Partner

As I previously mentioned, most translation companies use CAT tools now. And CAT tools provide a translation memory module. Most CAT tools worth their salt, anyway. And this is what you should be looking for. When you look to save time and money while having your content translated, you need to make sure you choose the localization company that works with the right tools.

What is also important is transparency. You need to know what you really pay for and how much you save, why and where. To feel secure, to be able to trust your localization partner but also to constantly learn how to create content for translation that will generate significant time and cost savings which will also be stable and long-term.

 

Having the right localization company for a partner means saving money thanks to the right tools that fit your content and your needs. It also means saving money and growing your revenue faster thanks to reducing the translation and localization process with the use of CAT tools, translation memory and fully dedicated and experienced production, project, vendor and quality management teams and a pool of translators, engineers and other specialists who know how to handle your content from A to Z. Because in the backstage of every international expansion in the world you witness there are professional language services, and behind every translation process stands a team of professionals fully equipped with proper tools and processes. The unknown heroes that make it happen and get things done for you. And all this results in accelerating your international business growth.

So, make sure you always know what to look for in a localization company. You now possess knowledge regarding the full potential that the language industry offers you and how to use it to your company’s benefit. First off, look for the CAT.

Cats and memories, after all, are not all just fuzzy (match) things. They mean money, real money. If you know how to use them for your growth. Do you?