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Gaining Management Support

Content management systems and translation memory: creating management buy-in

Peter Argondizzo
Argo Translation, Inc.

Your department is faced with tighter deadlines, more products in the pipeline, staff reductions, an expanded list of standard languages for a typical release as well as pressure from management to reduce your translation budget. Most of you have probably faced one or all of these challenges. 

A good place to start would be the thorough investigation of a Content Management System or CMS. This article will focus mainly on the benefits offered by a CMS relative to the translation effort. The principal goal of this article is to give you a strong case for the implementation of a CMS.

This article will cover four main advantages of using a CMS in your translation workflow.

1. Write once, translate once

The principal catalyst is the ability to reuse text or eliminate entire blocks of content from each translation project. A CMS will allow you to author content once and reuse it many times. Obviously this will save valuable writing time and dollars. Sounds appealing. Let's make it a bit more appealing.

Let's build a scenario as an example. This technical publications department publishes their documentation in a core set of 14 languages. We will also assume that the department authors about 3,000 English pages per year. Let's use the round number of 250 words per page totaling a word count of 750,000 total words. If you are publishing documentation for mature product lines, one could expect about 30% to 65% reuse or what is often called 100% or exact matches in the translation industry. Now let's further assume that all prices per language are equal and that 100% matches cost the department approximately $0.07/word for editing and final review. What could a CMS implementation save the company in this scenario?

Total words published per year 750,000 words

Cost for 100% matches: $0.07/word

Assumed % of words that would fall under 100% match criteria: 30, 40, 50, 65


Words eliminated

Dollars saved per language

Total (14 languages)

















Quite compelling isn't it? What if you could completely eliminate chunks of content across your standard language set? Every bit of reused content would be eliminated in terms of the cost of the translated text. Do you have data relative to how many 100% matches your documentation is generating per year? If not, try and gather this data from your translation vendor so you can perform a similar analysis relative to your group.

2. Reduce time to market

Reuse of your text will also shrink your timelines. The ability to reuse text will allow you to translate only new blocks of content reducing translation turnaround time. This will also allow you to get your product to market much faster. A good CMS workflow will reduce post-translation desktop publishing to almost nothing further reducing cost and reducing the timeline required to complete translations of your content.

Desktop publishing can be a large part of most translation budgets. The use of a CMS will reduce this effort dramatically. Building an example to illustrate savings from reduced desktop publishing is a bit more difficult. Desktop publishing rates vary depending on the complexity of the documents, the language, the program being used, and the number of graphics and how they are placed into the document, etc. These factors make building a generic example difficult. However, it might be best to take a look at your entire budget for desktop publishing of translated manuals and consult with your CMS vendor or consultant to come up with an appropriate discount factor. One of our clients has been able to reduce their desktop publishing budget by 87%.

Once a CMS is implemented a "push-pull" workflow can be created between your content authors and your translation vendor. A "push-pull" will allow your writers to "push" content in manageable blocks, perhaps by chapter or major topic, to your translation vendor. This will allow the vendor to begin the translation process before the actual completion of the entire document.

Upon completion of the translation and editing, the translation vendor can place the translated blocks back on your server. This workflow will allow for an earlier start to the process assisting in meeting tighter deadlines. This will also allow the project manager or lead writer to better track progress on the translation process.

Post completion processes like regulatory affairs approval and peer review can be simplified if only new text is required for review. This could be especially valuable in an environment with heavy regulatory demands.

3. Consistency

Not having to rewrite and retranslate identical sets of content will create greater consistency across your document set while further reducing the completion time of the final document. This consistency improves the quality of your documentation set.

4. Broader pipeline of documents/products

The benefits from having a CMS embedded in your translation workflow will allow you to translate or publish more documents. Perhaps there were never enough resources to devote to Service Manuals, On-Line Help or additional Quick Start documents. Having the ability to repurpose blocks of text from the principal or key documents related to a product into other ancillary documents with little impact to your timelines or budgets is a reality with a CMS.


These four advantages together should assist you in making a case for the investment in a CMS and the proper consulting. The implementation of a CMS is definitely a journey and not a quick fix. Please be sure to have all of your managers, writers, desktop publishers and translation vendors on board for testing and feedback during the implementation.

Copyright 2005, The Rockley Group, Inc.