Buying translations

Interview with MED-EL: the challenges posed by the MDR, translation management, and how MEINRAD has helped

MED-EL company building

International medical business MED-EL’s relationship with MEINRAD goes back more than a decade: MEINRAD has been MED-EL’s translation partner since 2013. The Labelling department is one of many MED-EL departments where translations are part of their everyday work. We spoke to them to find out more about life in the Labelling department and the challenges of translation management, particularly with regard to the MDR. Here’s what they had to say! 

Please tell us about the work you do in the Labelling department every day. What’s a typical working day like for you? 

We start the day by checking our e-mails to see if there are new translation requests or queries about ongoing projects, and responding to them. Depending on which queries have come in, we then request translation files from the graphic designers and create and prepare new projects in memoQ.  

If German is one of the required languages, our in-house translation team produces the German translation before we send the project to MEINRAD – this translation can flag up any areas which are unclear for the translators, and they can either be resolved immediately or explained when ordering the translation from MEINRAD. 

Once all the translations have been sent back to us, we do our own QA check to see if we have any queries for MEINRAD. After we get the answers to any queries that we had, we send the translations on to the Graphics team, who produce a layout, print out the booklets and proofread everything again on paper. It’s very important at this stage that we follow the four-eye principle and get another colleague to do the proofreading. 

Finally, we upload the translations to our quality management software. Not forgetting the obligatory coffee and lunch breaks, of course – they’re important so that we can clear our heads in order to properly refocus on the projects we’re working on! 

Let’s talk about quality management: do you think anything about your work has changed since the MDR was introduced in 2022? 

Nothing has changed in terms of the actual work we do or our approach. But we’ve had to go to enormous efforts to ensure all our products and the accompanying documentation comply with the MDR. For each product, along with its technical documentation and its translations, the switchover to the MDR had to be carefully planned and coordinated between departments. We had to (and still have to) meet strict deadlines to make sure our products can remain on the market, which as you can imagine has put everyone involved under some pressure – to put it mildly. 

What challenges does the MDR pose for you when it comes to managing translations? 

One of the biggest challenges posed by the MDR is complying with the strict deadlines required for translating all the texts. The amount of texts to be translated has increased, and at the same time translations are now needed in more languages than before the MDR was introduced. Texts that are considered part of “Labelling” now have to be translated into all EU languages, which means the range of languages has grown for lots of products, and there’s more work for us to do.  

Delivering these projects on time hasn’t been easy, so it’s essential to have outstanding communication within our team and with the MEINRAD project managers. 

What role do price and time play when you order translations? 

Like with any product or service, price and time are key factors. But the quality of the end product – in our case the completed translations – is non-negotiable. We expect high-quality translations, and we believe that people who do good work should be well paid. MEINRAD’s transparent pricing and easy-to-use job portal means we always know what’s happening with our projects. With a steadily growing number of languages – over 30 now – needed for our projects, lots of language service providers and project managers are involved, and we’ve been able to rely on their expertise and fast collaboration for more than a decade. We can set generous deadlines for some projects, but in other cases we need translations to be delivered quickly. And when that happens, the MEINRAD team has always come up with the perfect solutions for everyone involved. 

What are the specific challenges of labelling translations, and what do you need to pay particular attention to? 

One challenge is consistency – it’s extremely important to translate specialist terminology the same way at all times. And that’s where term bases are very helpful! Then there’s compliance with the regulations: in some countries, the language used means we need to be very careful to ensure that the translated product names match the name on the approval certificate. 

Why is getting all your translations from one service provider important for you? 

Sending all our translations to one service provider has the clear benefit of giving us core translators, who over time become very familiar with our products. It also reduces the project management workload, as in most cases we as the client only have to deal with one service provider rather than 30!   

Another benefit is that it helps ensure consistent translations: linguistic and stylistic consistency improve the overall quality, and there’s no real alternative if we want to supply high-quality products. But it isn’t just translations where consistency matters – consistent workflows are also helpful. The core translators know how we work, what they need to look out for and what they’re supposed to do with our terminology and the comments we leave for them – and they also know if there are any specific requirements for the respective languages.  

The MEINRAD project managers also know how we work, and we’re very happy with their communication. We trust that they’ll deliver high-quality results, and as part of a mutually beneficial partnership we meet in person, discuss various issues and give each other feedback. MEINRAD can handle all our translation projects, so there’s simply no need for a second service provider. 

What do you think are the benefits of in-country reviews of translations produced by MEINRAD? 

The main benefit is that particular terms can be checked based on how they’re actually used in the respective country. But given the time pressures we face, we don’t do in-country reviews very often – though if we get feedback from particular places, we pass it on to MEINRAD and they discuss it with their translators and reviewers. The terminology we’ve agreed on is saved in our term base, along with a comment. That means translators/reviewers can immediately see that a term has already been discussed and should be used as indicated. 

How do you benefit from working with a CAT tool (memoQ)? 

In every possible way! Our work wouldn’t be possible without a CAT tool. We manage all our translation projects centrally, and everyone in the team has access to every project so they can step in if needed to pick up another colleague’s project. We send projects to MEINRAD in memoQ itself, and the finished translations are “delivered” there as well – only in exceptional circumstances are files sent by other means, e.g. with OneDrive. Another key benefit is access to term bases and translation memories, which are used for each new project across all our departments. 

Speaking of term bases, to what extent is terminology management an essential element in high-quality translations for you? 

If you don’t have a terminology management system in place, you get to a point where it’s basically impossible to guarantee consistent translations across a company. So the variety of products we offer and media we use, combined with the number of staff we have, poses a major challenge. Terminology management is a crucial issue which has to be handled with due care and attention. 

Sounds like a lot of work: how did you approach it? 

First of all, it was (and is) about making people aware that this is a problem that needs to be addressed. Establishing a cross-department terminology team was a major step in the right direction, with assistance from MEINRAD, who also helped to plan our next steps. We already had lots of translations, so we extracted the existing terminology, added missing terms and created a term base – and in turn, this term base has helped us “tidy up” existing translation memories. 

Lastly, do you have any feedback for MEINRAD? 

We have a great relationship with MEINRAD, based on fantastic communication with you! Your project managers always react very quickly to queries, and MEINRAD’s expertise in terminology management and the technical questions that sometimes crop up has often been extremely helpful – overall we feel that we and our translation projects are in very good hands. Our partnership has been highly productive over the years, and we can say with no hesitation that we have full confidence in MEINRAD’s work and that you’re fantastic partners. 

Thank you for talking to us!




Main image © Adobe Stock