8 Features of Terminology Management Systems We Really Love

Terminology Management Systems

Content flows around the world. How do you manage it all while honoring the “voice” that is your brand?

Robust translation technologies are must-have tools for multinational businesses serving a multilingual consumer base. A terminology management system is just one of those: you can store, manage, and access the key source terms and translations that describe your products and services — whether they are the approved terminology or the rejected.

Here are just some of the top characteristics of terminology management systems that make them beloved by the world’s best global companies (and Moravia!).

1. Consistency

Let’s place a critical switch on your product that controls one of its key functions. Imagine the confusion then that could result from every department of your company using different terminology to describe that same product part. The marketing team is calling it a thingamajig on the website sales page, the technical writers are calling it a doodad in the user manual, and the engineers placed doohickey on the label above the switch on the product itself. (By the way, those are all actual generic terms for the same thing: a whatchamacallit.)

The beauty of a terminology management system is that it helps your content creators — in whatever department they may be working in — understand that a common termbase is both right for product users and for the translation teams that would otherwise carry that confusion forward into the target language materials.

Confusion is one aspect, but extra costs another. Inconsistency in the terminology used decreases your potential re-use or leverage you could otherwise get from existing translations. Also, by and large, productivity of translations is up if translators can quickly and easily access approved terminology.

Many terminology management applications provide features to ensure that the consistency is maintained by making it possible to insert definitions, show proper usage, or otherwise share instructions that are specific to clients, products, and more.

2. Centralization

Of course, content creators, translators, and diverse internal departments have been used to operating in their silos — contributing to the inconsistency issue described above. Another benefit to terminology management is, therefore, that these diverse stakeholders can — with user rights/approvals — contribute to, connect with, and share the resources of a single, central terminology base.

When you are working with multiple translation teams, you recognize that centralization of terminology is your means of standardizing terminology usage (see 5 Things to Know About Creating a Multilingual Glossary [Cliff Notes]). Unsurprisingly, this contributes to cost and time efficiencies: no more time wasted in determining whether a term is approved for use or not and no costly error corrections to documents where outdated terminology had been used or where one translation team used a term different from another team’s choice.

3. Automation

Afraid that building a terminology database will be a painstaking, hair-pulling chore? Well don’t be! Thanks to automation features in terminology management systems, building a reliable termbase starts with your legacy materials. You do not start from scratch: you import your previously translated materials along with their source-language documents.

From your already developed resources you can — relatively painlessly — extract, search, index, group, and categorize terminology for use in new projects or, more generally, as an integrated part of translation management workflows that include glossaries, translation memories, and style guides.

In a similar vein, automation can help analyze the existing source language content and using frequency analysis identify repetitive source terms for potential inclusion in your termbase. When used with bilingual data, the same functionality may suggest potential candidate translations for any new terms.

4. Integration

The beauty of having your multilingual terminology in order comes from the ability of your terminology management system to maximize its value by integrating with other essential tools that are part of today’s translation workflows.

For instance, automatic checkers will verify the consistency of the terminology used in your translations with your termbase, and produce a report that can be used to easily pinpoint potential errors upfront. Similarly, your terminology system should allow for a smooth integration with your translation management system or your authoring tools.

5. Roles and Workflows

Having a large team of translators or editors accessing your termbase is great, but without some sound functionality that allows you to assign appropriate roles to individual users, things can easily fall into disarray. It should account for various roles such as content creators, those who can query, suggest, validate or update specific terminology, those who can provide context or definitions, import or export glossaries, as well as the wide range of potential users on the client as well as the LSP side.

Having a sound system of user roles is then essential for creating standardized workflows that account for individual scenarios, such as:

  • Terminology validation process for new terms identified by content creators or customers
  • Terminology validation process for new terms identified by translators during the translation process
  • Process for managing terminology changes, including managed changes to approved legacy terms

Last but not least, your terminology management system should support the two terminology-related ISO standards used — ISO 10241 (Terminological entries in standards) and ISO 704 (Terminology work - Principles and methods).

6. Metadata

Terms as such are effectively useless without context. So a good terminology management system should provide for an easy way of managing specific metadata that go with each term. These metadata — such as status, source, product, project, domain, date of entry, history and dates of changes as well as users — are critical for translators or terminology approvers. They enable them to understand the context and history of individual terms so they can make informed decisions about their use and to perform advanced termbase management operations.

7. Standards Support

Your terminology management system should not work in isolation. Terminology should easily flow in and out of your termbase as needed. For that, look to support for standards such as Term Base eXchange (TBX), the ISO-approved, open XML-based standard for exchanging structured terminological data. Further down the road, look for new exciting developments such as the potential interoperability with the XLIFF 2.0 Glossary Module (via TBX).

8. Future-Proofing

Let’s say that your company has grown from 10 products localized into 2 languages to 25 products localized into 15. Now imagine the amount of content that you would have to create for them all.

Today’s terminology management systems can grow with the content produced for your different needs. Moreover, the best systems help you track that content in whatever format it may be displayed in — whether for content headed to the print shop or content headed to your website.
Choosing the right terminology management system could be a daunting challenge, but we are here to help. Share your comments and questions in the section below.