As an export-oriented manufacturer, you know the problem: the more successful your company, the higher the costs for translation. Not only because of liability concerns, but also to foster customer relationships, foregoing translation into a given country’s languages isn’t an option.

Translation effort grows exponentially with each language: project management, time and quality effort explode. Is there no way out of this “spiral of death?” Let’s have a closer look at two possible solutions.

The Problem: Cost, Time, Quality
How big is the problem actually? Is that little bit of translation really of such great consequence? Let’s look at a typical company that provides documents in 15 languages – a good average for export-oriented companies. Let’s also assume that the company produces 25 translation-relevant product documents and manuals, each with 100 pages. That doesn’t sound too dramatic. With 200 words per page and translation costs of about 0.2 euros per word, this means an overall translation cost of 1.5M euros and an additional 375K euros layout costs. The effort is quite considerable – and the search for savings potentials should be worthwhile.

Solution Option 1: Translation Memory Systems
Many companies have already identified this optimization potential and are using Translation Memory Systems. For all of you who don’t know TM Systems yet: They are a central, multilingual sentence database which continuously learns from the translator by saving translated texts. For later translations, the system remembers and identifies repetitions, similarities and changes.

Indeed, with TM Systems, you can attain significant gains in efficiency. This can be clearly seen with our example above. In this constellation, around 30% identical text and an additional 30% of similarities can be expected. Translation costs are reduced to 900K euros; layout costs to around 190K euros.

This represents a significant cost savings of about 40%. But still you ask yourself: “Isn’t more possible?”

Solution Option 2: CMS with Translation Workflow
Indeed, more is possible. The main problem of translation memory systems lies in the fact that identical sounding source sentences sometimes need to be translated differently depending on the target language. Here’s a little example to show what I mean:

  • The young couple, entangled in each other’s arms, wandered half the night through the city.
    Then he took the last train (German: Zug).
  • The notorious chain smoker decided to give up smoking forever.
    Then he took a last drag (German: Zug).

This context dependency exists in technical texts as well. The German “Schraube” is a “screw” in English if it drives directly into the material, but a “bolt” if it’s secured with a nut. Depending on the context, the translator therefore must use a different term. Which means that even for identical source and target sentences, the translator needs to check the context (and invoice the effort accordingly).

A CMS or component content management system offers a way out of this dilemma. Already translated modules are automatically reused in new projects. Single sourcing guarantees a finer more granular degree and tracking of changes. Current document modules are identified and are not sent for translation. In addition, the layout in the system can be adapted to language variants and automatically matched to a language with Layout Recall.

How does this affect our example? In addition to the 30% exact matches and 30% similarities from the TMS scenario, we can expect a reuse quota of about 25%. The translation costs are reduced to about 560K euros (about a third of the original 1.5M euros), and the layout costs with the help of Layout Recall are reduced to a tenth of the original, 37 500 euros.


This shows that by themselves TM Systems can’t unfold their full potential. Only in combination with a single source-enabled component content management system with Layout Recall can excessive translation costs be gotten under control. This is a real miracle of efficiency for global companies.

With Kaleidoscope Communications Solutions GmbH, founded by him in 1996, Klaus Fleischmann helps international companies create and manage high-quality multilingual product information quickly, cost-effectively. He and his team offer both the leading industry-specific solutions as a reseller and also his own software tools which help to increase quality and speed for many tasks. At the same time, Klaus Fleischmann is also CEO of eurocom Translation Services, the leading Austrian translation service provider. Klaus Fleischmann studied translation in Vienna, and has Master’s degrees in conference interpretation from Monterey, California, and in technical documentation.