Found in Translation - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Found in Translation
The language barrier is just one of the challenges to overcome in developing global teams.


Pharmaceutical Executive


4 Use compatible platforms Whenever possible, create files in Microsoft Word and/or PowerPoint. Although your LSP may be able to work with other software applications, they are not as popular, so it's safer to stick with Windows-based applications. Often, marketing and regulatory affairs departments provide files in formats that are not easily editable—or not editable at all. Some LSPs work closely with commercial printing services and design artists, so using software that is widely compatible is most likely to ensure the layout and image quality that you want.

5 Avoid format problems Documents should be designed using as few fonts as possible. Ideally, all fonts found in the document should be available on the user's PC. Otherwise, the pagination and layout may change or become corrupted when new fonts are introduced.

A properly internationalized graphic file has all text elements in separate layers from graphic elements so that text can be localized and replaced in the graphic without disturbing the original artwork. Try to avoid complex graphics with too many colors or lots of detail. If possible, insert text in graphics by using text boxes, which are easily editable. This, too, will save time and money.

In the same way that documents should be created with target languages in mind, extra space should be left in tables and other graphics.

6 Size does matter File sizes influence two basic procedures: delivery and translation. It is more difficult and time-consuming to upload and download large files, so we recommend keeping single files under 3 MB. The translation process slows down when large files have to be opened and saved. Similarly, the number and size of graphics should be kept to a minimum, and use black and white images whenever possible. If the file size is still large, consider separating a document into shorter chapters or a series format.

7 Consider cultural differences Language barriers not only mean that training programs, research papers, and marketing materials need translation, but also that cultural differences have to be taken into account. A drug's brand name may be appropriate in one country, but totally unacceptable in another. Even in countries that share the same language, there can be subtle variations that should be considered.

Some time ago, we translated the largest training program in Pharmacia's history into Spanish. We had to consider whether executives in Spain or Latin America were the target audience, and which country within Latin America was the most important market. One word that appeared throughout the training manuals was "coach." In Spanish, this word can be translated in different ways, depending on the country. In some areas, the word has the same meaning as it does in English, but in others, the direct translation is "animal trainer."

To solve the problem, wording was developed to satisfy the needs of the company's most important affiliate in Latin America.

8 Provide—and ask for—feedback Once you finalize objectives and prepare a first draft of the training program, the next step is to contact local affiliates for input. When all of the content is decided on centrally, you can miss many important local needs, and run the risk of the affiliates feeling as though the content is imposed on them from the top, which might make them less accepting of it.

Two quick ways to request feedback from your affiliates are: to provide them with a Word document asking basic questions about your program, or to create a web survey. Use Web tools for post-training evaluations. Survey questions can be translated online, and if you choose a multiple-choice survey, responses can be analyzed in any language, regardless of the language in which questions were originally posted.

It's helpful to incorporate feedback from your LSP about the way training materials are created. The best results are achieved when you consider local needs across different regions, as well as input from your LSP.

9 Translate centrally You have the option of having materials translated locally, at each affiliate, or centrally. Whenever possible, translations should be centralized because it avoids duplication of costs, not having all materials ready at the same time, and differences in format or layout.


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