How to cope with the lack of resources for terminology management? – Part II

In this second part, Gabriele talks about approaches for left- and right- brainers and gives useful statistics that you can use in your own business case. She explains how a “positive deviance” approach helped TermNet thrive in the face of challenges.

Terminology is everywhere. Therefore, Terminology is important.

Make sure to explain that terminology covers all the specific corporate language: abbreviations and acronyms, brand names and trademarks, concepts and terms of your industry or subject field, job titles and descriptions, legal relevant data, product description and number, including the nonverbal such as drawings, labels, signs, etc. When you talk to stakeholders to explain this, avoid scornful or insolent attitudes; be respectful to gain their trust.

Approaches for left-brainers. Left-brainers are more logical. They rely on calculations and figures, so your approach should be to talk about the lack of policy, the lack of guidelines and goals, and lack of trust in the validation of data. This approach is a bit on the negative side, thus the best strategy is to mix it with the right-brainers approach. Ask them, “In an ideal world, what do you wish to see or have?” They always want to follow clear rules and guidelines, have access to a unique and reliable source, and reduce search and validation times.

The four steps to implement TM are an analysis of the status-quo, preparation of a terminology policy, standardization of the terminology process, and integration of the process into the product lifecycle. While implementing these steps, people always come before the process applied and the tools used. This means that you need to get the commitment of the people who are creating and using terminology or are directly impacted by terminology.

Gabriele showed some statistics on the savings achieved by managing terminology using the return on investment (ROI) calculation, as follows:

  • “If only 50% of all employees save 10% of their productive time per day, with an average hourly wage of 30.00 EUR/USD, this amounts to 1,312,500 EUR/USD per year.
  • 1,750 * 3 EUR/USD * 250 working days on average, worldwide.
  • In the next 3 to 5 years, the savings would amount to 6,562,500 EUR/USD.”

In some cases, the savings in production are up to 40%-50%. This is why Gabriele pointed out that we should never exaggerate when presenting the ROI to stakeholders because it could backfire. The data that you collect will be impressive enough, and you don’t want your project to sink by presenting inaccurate data. Gabriele explained that the three points above are real, accurate, and state-of-the-art. The ROI is used to calculate cost savings and leans towards the conservative side, bust just to be safe, don’t embellish it.

Even this type of conservative estimate justifies your investment, but you can imagine that any cost savings larger than that will have an exponential effect on your bottom line: costs related to customs, delayed payments, penalties, returned shipping, customers not finding products on time, costs to translation providers, among others. Quantifying these costs are usually elusive in a business, and the cost savings argument is still the most popular one for terminology management.

Gabriele introduced to us the term “positive deviance” coined by Dr. Kim Cameron of the University of Michigan, which talks about how organizations can be on the “negative deviance” side (illness, unethical, harmful, unprofitable), or in the status quo (normal levels of health, profitability, etc.). Being on the positive deviance side makes an organization vital, generous, excellent, benevolent, flourishing… TermNet has managed to stay on the positive deviance side with great success.

As was mentioned before, TermNet stopped receiving public resources three years ago. Thanks to this positive deviance approach, they were able not only to survive but also to flourish, in the words of Gabriele. Her core team never gave up; they set up “Everest goals*”. They wanted to excel, do things differently. They always believed in themselves and the value of TM, because it’s an important contribution to “the bigger picture” and to society, quality, safety, and security, to global communication and understanding, as well as to sustainable businesses and societies.

TermNet managed to become independent on public funding by focusing on the terminology community and its needs and wishes and trying to achieve them through challenging goals. The Terminology community needs are highly-renowned qualification and certification, sharing and meeting with peers, and positivity and confidence in our profession and ourselves.

*  “An Everest goal goes beyond normal goal setting. It represents an ultimate achievement or an extraordinary accomplishment. Achieving it requires everything one can give, and that is exactly how and why it increases our personal power.” –Shauna Chymboryk


Read the first part here. Read the third part here.

You can download the PowerPoint presentation and check the last slides for information on TermNet discounts for their courses by clicking on this link:

You can also watch the full webinar here:

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