Charles Dowdell is Senior Manager of Technical Information Development at Accuray. Charles has a diverse and extensive work experience in technical information development and management. Charles is currently working at Accuray overseeing the production and translation of instruction manuals and service content. He also leads content development for radio surgery devices and software, while simultaneously spearheading the organization’s digitalization efforts.
Charles, tell us why a life-science company like Accuray requires a localization program?
We make complex radiation therapy systems, very large, complex equipment, and we commonly ship our product into markets that need our therapies around the world. And of course, with our delivery localization is required.
What does that program look like?
Multiple vendors, over 30 language pairs, one-stop-shop for bids, quotes, translation, memories, glossaries… Before we implemented XTM as our translation management system, we did a deep clean of our translation memories, which is probably recommended for everybody as well, as it helped streamline things and give us the good data that we obviously need.
What were some of the pain points for your company that made you consider making changes to your localization program to make it more effective and productive?
We’ve had lots of pain points with translations here and other places. We had a large volume of documents that had to be in each appropriate language as fast and efficiently as possible – it can never be fast enough, which is why we’re always looking for efficiencies. Quality is paramount in this industry, so we needed maximum reuse of our content.
How did you achieve that?
Translation-memory management saved a lot of time for translation and decreased turnaround times across products, documents, and languages. We want the terminology to be consistent—it just has to be—and we don’t have a team to support this overall effort. So we need tools that helped us in this process to help reduce the risk or significantly reduce the risk of manually exchanging files and keeping them straight. We want to get things done as fast as possible, but we also have to increase accuracy along with speed.
What are the challenges of doing that in the life-science industry?
We’re in a regulated industry, so, the quality absolutely has to be there, as do our quality processes between our organization and our language service providers (LSPs). We need to have these two teams firmly connected, so if there is a problem, we can take corrective action quickly if needed.
Without automation, we wouldn’t have the confidence that we’re not making mistakes. This makes it a lot easier for us, and effectively proves our ability to decrease time-to-market.
Senior Manager of Technical Information Development
Having been in the industry for for quite some time, why is localization paramount for any life-science company?
There’s legal reasons, compliance reasons that mean we have to supply localized content to particular markets. It’s not a maybe — we have to do it to be compliant and illegal. We can’t even ship our equipment if we don’t have a localized document. And then you have to do it correctly. Accuracy is incredibly important. We’re talking about medical devices here, and any mistake could potentially endanger patient safety if something goes wrong. We have to have the standards and the processes in place to support that drive for accuracy of the content in the manuals that are used to operate our systems. Not only does the hardware software have to be accurate, but you also need the info layer for it, which has to be of the same quality as any other pillar in the delivery of the system.
What are the ramifications of getting something wrong?
Consequences of inaccurate translations can be extremely severe. It’s super important in that regard to catch these mistakes and to have systems that prevent errors like that as much as possible, as well as having quality safety notes in place at the same time. You also have to keep in mind that this is damaging to your business.
What has a successful localization program enabled your company to do and what have been the benefits you’ve seen?
The list is it’s actually can get quite long when you start looking at it. The ability to manage more and more simultaneous translation jobs thanks to automation. If we were doing this with manual file transfer and shuttling back and forth or with a system that that is a little bit harder to use, we wouldn’t have the confidence that we’re not making mistakes. And this makes it a lot easier for us, and effectively proves our ability to decrease time-to-market.
And has implementing this technology enabled you do things that you couldn’t do earlier?
We have a great platform in place to be much more data-driven thanks to our powerful language metrics. And we’re using some great data to make more meaningful decisions as we move forward, which is something that I am really looking forward to doing more and more of.