ROI and benefits of terminology

roi imageROI stands for “return on investment” and it refers to the profit or cost savings that a company makes for the money it invests in any given endeavor (e.g. terminology project).

In simple terms, the ROI is a formula that measures the profitability of an investment by which we divide the benefit (also called return or net gain) by the cost of the investment. In other words, it gives an estimation of the potential benefits that the investment could bring. If the result of the ROI is positive, then the investment can be made; if it’s negative, then the company should not invest. Read a detailed explanation here and don’t forget to also check out my section on the business case for additional information.

Some people advice that the simplicity of this measurement can be manipulated and therefore you should be careful and make sure that you understand all the elements involved to obtain an accurate result that does not leave room for doubts or come back to bite you! There is a book by Robin Lombard called “Perspectives on Localization” and on page 163 “Return on Investment” he mentions this risk in more detail. The book is partially available in google books and you can read this section.

In any case, knowing your ROI is important in terminology, as this short note from TermStar explains. Understanding this concept is key when defending your business case and it is therefore mentioned in most training courses. You should analyze questions related to the benefits that managing terminology will provide to the company to justify the investment. Some of these benefits (or returns) are, for example, savings in production and translation costs, higher customer satisfaction (i.e., less customer complaints), reuse of information (from glossaries for example), improved content quality, increased productivity, duplicate work is reduced, fewer errors and inconsistencies, and less time spent fixing those errors.

JR Language sums up some of the benefits of managing terminology, as follows:

  • “Reduces time to market. It reduces translation time. All terms, even internal terminology of the company, forbidden terms, acronyms and accepted translation are approved and ready to be used in the term base and in the translation glossary.
  • Facilitates edition and revision of documents.
  • Translation will become more and more consistent with time even if multiple translators are involved.
  • By eliminating ambiguity in the terminology your message will always be clear for your reader.
  • Share knowledge of your business domain with the staff of your company and with outside organizations among them, your translation agency.
  • Use of the same terms consistently across the different content and  communication process that support your product or services.”

EVS Translations also gives its own list:

  • “Better internal and external communication, less misunderstandings, less complaints
  • Better customer experience
  • Easier adaptation of products and services to global markets
  • Time-to-market delivery of global content
  • Legal and standards compliance
  • Brand consistency
  • Enhanced content quality
  • Decrease of the cost for translation and localisation services
  • Increase in efficiency and error reduction
  • Increase of the value of the brand”

The Terminology Starter’s Guide by TerminOrgs, also mentioned in my section “Resources”, explains major important benefits: (i) reducing costs and time to market; (ii) improving quality; (iii) strengthening brands and protecting intellectual property; and (iv) preserving know-how. You will probably find more lists of benefits if you google it, but this is basically to give you an idea that you have a lot of reasons to present your plan.

Last but not least, Barbara Inge Karsch published an articled called “Terminology Survey Results” in Multilingual magazine. The section titled Terminology Issues refers of the problems of not managing terminology (pages 47-49).






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  1. Pingback: Terminology Project Stakeholders: Be Aware and Beware! | In My Own Terms

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