I answered a question recently:
What IF you were CEO of a (i) big pharma, (ii) medical device and (iii) health service organization (hospital, HMO, etc.)? What changes would you have made and why?
There is no question lots of companies in the pharma., medical device and health service (hospital, HMO, etc.) industries are struggling to survive and/or prosper in today's fast changing global business environment where laser-beam decision making accuracy and speed, flexibility, agility, business model rethinking are core requirements.
Given the above reality that all of us experience first hand, what changes YOU would implement IF you were CEO of a (i) big pharma., (ii) medical device and (iii) health service organization (hospital, HMO, etc.)? Why?
What do you think the above industry sectors need but no one has offered yet?
What does the future hold? Where are we going?
I would pursue a move to automated publishing like other Life Science companies have.
If you're looking to sell more by going to European markets, then you're looking at translation costs that can be sky high if you're tired to traditional desktop publishing tools (Word, FrameMaker). You want to sell more but not also spend more. That's not what you want. You want to sell more while spending less. How do you do that when you faced with translation, a new and added cost of moving into new markets? Can you skip it? Should you?
For Med and Pharma companies, translation is a requirement. Products are health-related and users must be able to make informed decisions, understand side-effects and usage requirements. This means the documentation surrounding the product (labeling, usage manuals, repair manuals, product inserts) are all tightly controlled and must be in the native language of the person taking the medication or using the product. The liability otherwise, if they do the wrong thing, is just far too high.
If you're authoring using traditional tools, a change that cascades changes to the following pages looks to a translator like all the following pages have changed because, indeed, they have! And you are charged for every single page that the translator has to verify. Not just the changed bits you'd prefer to pay for.
Benefits of automated publishing systems
With an automated authoring and publishing system, layout is automated. There are no costly verification of pages that only changed because of cascaded layout differences or reformatting necessary in the final, translated document.
Second, if you're using monolithic, proprietary systems like FrameMaker or Word, what you have is an isolated silo of information. You can't have plug and play modules that contain boilerplate information, and you can't reuse information for common components across product lines. Each page is hand-authored, copied and pasted, and stored in the silo document.
In an automated authoring and publishing environment, you can gather fragments together, reuse at will, mix and match your bits of documentation just like you mix and match parts in your products.
The first time you translate, you translate everything, but after that, because you're reusing information components, you only have to translate new components or changed components. You can track, measure, and verify that other components are guaranteed not to have changed, and then automatically merge and create the product documentation after having only the new/changed information translated.
Again, costs are far, far less because you have the ability to mix and match at a smaller than document level in a nontraditional authoring and publishing environment that is built to leverage reusable components, to automate layout, and minimize impact of changes to every product in your portfolio.
Essentially: you can sell more, to more countries, and you won't spend a fortune to do it.
Let me say one more thing...
One of our customers was offered a discount by their translation vendor to get out of Frame and move to an automated publishing system. A discount in this economy is hard—and great—to find.