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The hidden costs of poor translation

How to ensure that outsourcing really adds up to cost-saving

Dr Mark HooperThere are many challenges in organising clinical trials - translation should not be one of them!

Many CRO project managers complain that their current translation supplier gives them low quality translations and poor service. Examples quoted include inconsistent translation of the same phrase through a set of documents (probably due to multiple translators being used and the proofreader not ensuring consistency), and documents being returned as stand-alone translations rather than translation tables, meaning that the CRO project managers (PMs) have to align source and target to work out which sentence equates to which. However, there is often a different view expressed from the procurement management who observe no significant increase in complaints about poor quality translation in the final clinical trial documents, and are happy about reduction in headline 'out-sourced' costs, and impressive 'on-time delivery' metrics. So where does this contradiction come from?

Well, each CRO has a strong Quality Management System that is set up to make sure that poor translations are corrected, and poor service is mitigated. Most standard operating procedures have two extra steps after the initial translations - a 'second revision' by in-house linguists, and also the ethics committee/IRB review. The CROs also have a team of brilliant hard-working project managers who will make sure that any lack of service and quality in the initial translation is covered by their extra effort. However, this use of the in-house review and extra resource in project management is a significant extra 'hidden' cost for the CROs. It also raises quality concerns, as the 'safety-net' should not routinely be used to make up for lower quality input and potential time-delays to your trials. 

So what's the solution? Firstly get your translation suppliers to deliver what you need, not what they want to deliver. This includes them having dedicated PMs to cope with the complexity of clinical trial documentation. Secondly, monitor the real cost in-house by assessing the 'right first time' quality of the translated media and 'all-in' costs of the related processing (including change orders, rush charges and the extra time taken by your in-house resources). 

In association with Conversis Medical

19th February 2016

From: Research

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