How terminology management ensures a competitive advantage for organisations
Every organisation has its own language and vocabulary and strives for successful communication with its customers, especially in today’s globalized world. Clear, homogeneous and professional communication through a consistent and company-specific database of terminology promotes cost reduction, avoidance of misunderstandings and a faster work process, which ultimately leads to success in the market for your company. All this can be made possible by the implementation of terminology management.
What is the significance of language for an organisation?
Language (written and spoken) is essential for organisations and humans in general. Constantly being surrounded by and using it naturally, we take it for granted and do not really think about its importance and power. In the corporate world, however, its role cannot be neglected. It is an important pillar of a company’s identity, consisting of three different elements:
- Corporate design includes the logo, font and name of the company. Even though it is only one piece of the corporate identity, these two concepts are often mixed up and falsely used as synonyms.
- Corporate behaviour describes the actions of an organisation and defines its ethical strategies and image.
- Corporate language is the language that the organisation uses in its internal and external communications. It is (or should be) standardised, homogeneous and specific to each organisation.
Many organisations put a lot of thought and effort into their corporate language since it can drastically improve the quality of product descriptions, simplify manufacturing and distribution processes and is an important pillar in building a strong corporate identity. One key to boost this language is terminology management.
What does terminology mean and why is it important to manage it properly?
Terminology can be described as a vocabulary of words, terms and phrases that are used for a specific industry, organisation, or field of study.
In the corporate world, for example, terminology helps to build a strong organisation identity and guarantees clear communication with the organisation’s customers all over the world. It includes technical terms, brand names, trademarks and the like. A proper management of its terminology makes an organisation more successful by providing the following benefits:
- Strategic advantages in globalised, multilingual markets
- Better compliance with legal requirements and standards
- Avoidance of problems with export goods at customs
- Clear message and terminology for staff and customers
- Easier understanding of documentation and collaterals
- Faster and easier reuse and retrieval of information
- Reduced translation costs
- Promotion of brand and corporate identity both inside and outside the organisation
Organisations with a well-thought-out terminology database and a consistent corporate language have less problems translating their texts into other languages. As many terms are already known and do not have to be looked up or described, the process is less time-consuming, and texts will contain less mistakes and are more comprehensible for workers and customers alike. Such organisations are therefore more likely to succeed in the global market.
How do you initiate your own terminology management process?
Setting up a terminology management process within your organisation should be split up into several smaller steps. It is important to know that it may be a long project and that some guidelines can help to keep it as simple as possible.
- One of the first considerations to be made is the composition of the project team. The more people from various departments collaborate, the more versatile the terminology management system is going to be.
- The goals and objectives should be clear for everyone, divided into short and long term goals and ought to lead to an increase in quality, time-efficiency and simplicity. In order to improve the goal setting, the SMART method (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound) can be introduced.
- The next step is to start a pilot project. A rather small product or service is a good point to begin with and terminology should be introduced as soon as possible in this process.
- Make sure to follow basic rules of terminology work like concept orientation and term autonomy.
- Decide what information content is relevant to you in your terminology collection (definition, subject area, business sector, source, illustration etc.).
- Check whether glossaries, lists etc. already exist and in which formats, volumes, sources, languages, and quality they are available.
- If possible, integrate tools and systems available to you and also incorporate already existing databases. During this process, it is important to keep in mind the short and long term goals and not to lose the overview.
- Keep in mind that continuity trumps perfection and consider that terminology management is an ongoing process.
If you realise that setting up a terminology management process in your organisation may be too time-consuming, it is possible to get external help in form of sessions, seminars, advisory services or collaboration with expert terminology management providers such as CB Multilingual.
Cerrella Bauer, S. & Brändle, D. (2013). The importance of corporate terminology management. Why terminology is key for today’s global business. In: SDL Because Business is Global – Ebook.
Cerrella Bauer, S. & Brändle, D. (2013). Grundlagen: Tipps von den Profis. Terminologiearbeit von Anfang an richtig aufsetzen. In: SDL Because Business is Global – Ebook.
If you are interested in knowing more about CB Multilingual’s terminology management services, please do not hesitate to contact us. Get in touch; we are looking forward to hearing from you.