The Effects of Globalization on Technical Communication and Training


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By Christie Fidura, SDL -- Presented at DocTrain East 2007. Globalization’ is the new buzz word, but what does this mean for a technical writer in the production of user documentation? In possession of specific skills, natural curiosity, and design abilities, technical writers are in a unique position to ensure their organization delivers information to a global audience that is accurate, consistent, and appropriate for local audiences. The efficient delivery of documentation is not the issue; instead, it is the efficient delivery of correct information across all content creators within the organization that is at stake. Technical writers are part of a larger organization due to hierarchical reporting structure. This silo approach does not encourage interactivity with other departments, leaving technical writers to wonder who is reviewing information that Marketing, Customer Support or Sales content. How can a technical writer affect change across the organization?

Published in: Business, Technology

The Effects of Globalization on Technical Communication and Training

  1. 2. Christie Fidura Senior Product Marketing Manager for Terminology Solutions The Effects of Globalization on Technical Communication and Training
  2. 3. The SDL Mission We help corporations drive global brand consistency and accelerate time-to-market by providing software and services to manage the delivery of all corporate information into different languages We call this Global Information Management (GIM)
  3. 4. How many of you… <ul><li>Know how many languages your company translates into today? </li></ul><ul><li>Are aware of your company’s growth/expansion/future plans? </li></ul><ul><li>Know exactly what happens to your content after it’s published? </li></ul><ul><li>Have recently read your company’s website? </li></ul><ul><li>Stumble across paragraphs you’ve written in other collateral? </li></ul><ul><li>Understand the translation process? </li></ul>
  4. 5. Globalization in the Corporate World <ul><li>It impacts everything you do as a company </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Your market presence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your target audience identification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your brand </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tone of voice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer Support interaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The delivered product or service </li></ul></ul>
  5. 6. Brand Penetration We communicate with customers over multiple channels and in multiple languages Inconsistencies are easy to see from one channel to another
  6. 7. Today’s Communication Challenges <ul><li>Increasing delivery channels </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Too much work to deliver/track </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increases risk of errors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decreases content effectiveness </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Increasing content volumes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does ‘write once, reuse many times’ ever work? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Higher translation costs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Time-to-market pressures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Production cycles are shortening </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Squeezes development & localization effort </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Source issues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t have access to all content sources required </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dependency on subject matter experts – busy and/or located elsewhere </li></ul></ul>
  7. 8. Today’s Communication Challenges <ul><li>Content ownership </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lost after publication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leaves content vulnerable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pressure to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Improve customer satisfaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improve quality and consistency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accelerate time-to-market </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do more with less resource </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Business silos of content creation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Geographically separated resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No ability to share information or leverage other work </li></ul></ul>
  8. 9. Geographically Distributed Resources Content Transactional Relationship EMEA Content Transactional Relationship Canada Content Transactional Relationship APJ Content Analytics Content Content Content Transactional Relationship Latin America Content Content Transactional Relationship US Content Transactional Relationship Product Group Authoring Authoring Illustration Illustration India Development
  9. 10. Development Silos Prevent Collaboration Initiatives Dev Areas Types of Docs Multiple Development Areas XML GMS Increase Productivity Version Control Reduce Costs Home Software Small Bus Large Bus Medium Bus Services Quick Install Guides Owner’s Manuals Installation & Service Guides Product Info. Guides Program Strings Getting Started Guides Improve Customer Exp. User Guides Tech. Sheets Read Me & Help Files Placemats Reference Manuals CD Artwork, Graphics, Icons
  10. 11. So what does ‘going global’ mean? Writing Content for a Global Audience
  11. 12. Writing with a Global Audience in Mind NOT…. Writing ..and then thinking of the rest of the world and different languages
  12. 13. Writing with a Global Audience in Mind … thinking of the rest of the world and different languages while writing, planning, etc. BUT…. The Bottom Line: Write for the Greatest Understanding
  13. 14. How Hard Can it Be? <ul><li>International Council for Technical Communication (INTECOM): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>US thinks UK spelling is ‘quaint, strange or just spelled wrong’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>UK thinks US spelling is recognizable but strange – and slightly irritating!! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No cultural, regional or local references </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ batting 1000” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ on the fly” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ the bottom line” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Choose a password which is easily memorable, such as your mother’s maiden name ” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Simple, clean, concise sentence structure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Other languages do not understand the combination of multiple nouns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Application Integration Software Development Toolkit” = “Toolkit for the Development of the Software which allows the Integration of Applications” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider “text creep” when translation occurs </li></ul></ul>
  14. 16. Global Content is Usable Content <ul><li>Write for the broadest spectrum of users </li></ul><ul><li>Easily consumable content is the goal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Think of Ikea! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The easier it is, the more translatable it is </li></ul><ul><li>Usable content employs good style </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tone, language structure, syntax </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tense, punctuation, grammar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Formatting and layout </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Customer-friendly and unambiguous </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complies with legal regulations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uses accurate, approved and consistent corporate terminology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not regional or cultural specific </li></ul></ul>
  15. 17. We’re Not Global, so I Don’t Have to Worry, Right? <ul><li>CEOs are naturally ambitious </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Could market abroad later, requiring content localization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content could be re-purposed for a website that is localized </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ Internationalized’ content is easier to comprehend in English </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Readers who speak English as a 2 nd , 3 rd , 4 th language </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Especially important when you outsource (development) or publish information for companies who sub-contract (aerospace/defense) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Modular content can be used by other internal departments </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content can be lifted and then changed to suit new audience, medium, style guide </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Is the style guide future-proof? Can the same content apply to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiple formats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiple delivery channels </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What about…? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Different ways of saying things </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inflexible rules </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Heading 2’s must be less than 6 words – does this rule work for other mediums? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 18. A Helpful Translation Glossary <ul><li>CAT: Computer Aided Translation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technology solutions for the translation process </li></ul></ul><ul><li>CAT technology provides translation memories and terminology management </li></ul><ul><li>Translation memory: a database consisting of translation units </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Translation unit: source and translated sentence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>During translation, the technology searches for exact or similar matches to the current source sentence for translation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Matches found can be reused or edited </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Termbase: multilingual database of all approved translated terms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Term entries: terms, synonyms, acronyms, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Additional data: definition, part of speech, gender, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Translators work with a translation memory and termbase to reuse previous translations and ensure consistency of terminology during translation </li></ul><ul><li>Result = More consistent translations, lowered translation costs </li></ul>
  17. 19. OK, OK, I’m Global Already! Wait… what about everyone else in my company?
  18. 20. Consistency is Key <ul><li>Using consistent terms, style, formatting, and layout makes content more usable </li></ul><ul><li>Readers can apply existing familiarity to new content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Makes them more comfortable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces learning curve </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Happier customers think your product is better </li></ul><ul><li>Less Support queries </li></ul><ul><li>Internal perception = Great documentation! </li></ul>
  19. 21. The Impact of Inconsistency for Global Content
  20. 22. <ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Product code name – internal name vs. marketing name </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Longhorn” vs. Microsoft Windows Server? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Feature names </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Risks to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Proprietary terms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The business – mission statements, elevator pitches, boilerplate text </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The technology – business applications, internal processes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Editorial guidelines, which build the brand </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Established/preferred nouns </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>SDL Knowledge-based Translation System™ – Established </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>SDL KbTS – Alternative/Preferred </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Images </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Colours </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Email Addresses </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regulatory compliance </li></ul></ul>Inconsistency Examples & Risks
  21. 23. The Real Impact of Inconsistency <ul><li>Inconsistencies cause: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inability to reuse content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inability to leverage other internal knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inability to leverage existing translations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inability to Simship across all markets </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Frustrated customers </li></ul><ul><li>Increased Support issues </li></ul><ul><li>Internal and External Perception = Bad documentation </li></ul>
  22. 24. The 3 C’s of Globalization Centralization Collaboration Celebration!
  23. 25. What did we call this last time? Didn’t I just research this? I don’t like this translation. There are four different translations for this! What does this mean? Let’s just call it this for now. marketers engineers authors editors translators reviewers customers
  24. 26. Centralized Content Assets Web content, Online Help, User Guides, Marketing, Specs, etc. Translation memory Terminology QA Local Regional Offices Training and Education Sales Engineers Documentation Translators Corporate Marketing
  25. 27. Centralization Enables Collaboration <ul><li>Centralize all content assets </li></ul><ul><li>Apply assets to the entire content lifecycle </li></ul><ul><li>Optimize efficiency of the communication process </li></ul><ul><li>Improve quality of customer experience (deliveries and interactions) </li></ul><ul><li>Protect and enhance brand quality and value </li></ul><ul><li>Accelerate product and message “time-to-market” </li></ul><ul><li>Simship </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate with relevance and consistency to local markets </li></ul><ul><li>Drive out unnecessary process costs and delays </li></ul>
  26. 28. Managing Terminology Delivers… <ul><li>The Right Term to the Right Author at the Right Time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Delivers accurate and effective communications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rapid time-to-market </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consistent information, communications, global branding and messaging </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Right Term to the Right Translator at the Right Time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Delivers true translation efficiency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces translation costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces the review cycle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consistent translations, higher quality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More reuse </li></ul></ul>
  27. 29. Summary <ul><li>Globalization requires Information Foundation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Increases efficiency, collaboration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduces effort and inconsistencies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Style, terminology, tone, structure, syntax </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge sharing -- Enables collaboration without hassle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Standards can be more easily adhered to </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Write for a global audience </li></ul><ul><li>Be aware of publication media type </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content may be published on the internet, and therefore localized </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Further reference: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  28. 30. Thank you Christie Fidura [email_address] Copyright © 2007 SDL PLC. All rights reserved. SDL and the SDL Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of SDL PLC or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries.  Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners. This document is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as advertising.  All warranties relating to the information in this document, either express or implied, are disclaimed to the maximum extent allowed by law.  The information in this document is subject to change without notice.