Most companies maintain company-approved glossaries, also referred to as terminology or lexicons in authoring tools. They are usually hidden to most internal groups and partners. These glossaries are industry and company specific terms intended for use throughout the company’s products.
Glossaries are the Tech Pubs Group’s Responsibility
The Tech Pubs group is usually responsible for the task of building and maintaining these glossaries in English (or whatever the source language may be). They typically do a good job of remaining consistent with it while undertaking the authoring of product manuals and help.
But rarely do we see their effort being effectively proliferated to other groups throughout the company. Local and off-shore software development groups seldom coordinate the use of common terminology in their code. As a result, over time, severe inconsistencies can develop. We know this, since our translators spend endless hours reporting such problems back to our clients on a regular basis.
Marketing’s Role in Promoting Glossaries
Marketing professionals are usually so busy with their daily tasks that they too are often unaware of the terminology decisions taken by other groups. They have little control over how these groups indirectly define or influence the image and brand of their products. When developing marketing literature and websites, they rarely coordinate with development and Tech Pubs to ensure consistent use of terminology uniformly throughout their practice.
Institute a Glossary Repository
Companies who localize their products or websites have an additional responsibility to maintain their terminology in all the languages that they localize to. Here, further effort is required to maintain parallel approved glossaries for each language and keep them updated and synchronized with their proper source-language terminology. The complexity of the task increases proportionally with the number of languages supported, and geometrically when simultaneous international product releases are planned. Many companies depend on their localization vendors to handle this effort and rarely use the developed terminology beyond localization tasks.
Glossary’s Impact on Consistency, Accuracy and Brand
Experienced companies like Apple, Microsoft and others understand the importance of proper use of terminology and regularly publish their latest glossaries on FTP servers for all interested users to download and use freely. Here are some of the dividends of an open glossary policy:
With consistent terminology used across products, literature and website, you can attain higher clarity in your communications with your prospects, clients and users. To reach maximum impact, consistency should be applied at multiple levels.
- Within company products: All products developed or acquired should conform to the approved terminology.
- With 3rd party partners: Companies that decide to integrate their products with yours should be consistent with your terminology, not only for the source-language product, but also for all its localized versions.
- Industry as a whole: Companies should strive to conform to industry standard terminology to further improve communications with clients.
By opening your glossaries you expose your terminology to the scrutiny of others. Inaccurate, inconsistent or unpopular terms can be identified and corrected before they become entrenched in products and documentation.
Making your terminology available to your marketing and sales groups helps to elicit their input, which leads to a more polished image and a more focused brand.
Given the importance of consistent, accurate and polished terminology, it puzzles us why only so very few companies actually do take advantage of the enterprise technology available today to make their terminology more widely available and open.
The more open your terminology is, the better your communications with your clients and your brand image will be. With enterprise web technology, any company can have its terminology posted securely online for all appropriate parties to search, review, edit, correct, add or improve. This can be not only for just your source language, but also for all your target (localized) languages (see the above image).
If you want to make a difference in the accuracy and consistency of your terminology, contact us at GlobalVision and let us give you a quick demo of our online terminology portal, which is available free of charge to all our clients. All you need is a web browser and a list of your terms and you will be on the fast track to an open terminology policy!