Life Science organizations know and appreciate the critical importance of distributing error-free documentation.

As a project manager in charge of translations, you may be required to help your organization produce written communications for patients, colleagues, partner organizations, and/or recruitment material for the general public. This might extend to hiring a medical translation agency to translate your document(s) into one or more languages.

Understandably, there needs to be a high level of trust and confidence that you have with your language provider. So, how can you ensure that your medical document translations will be accurately and properly formatted?

1. Share Your Formatting Guidelines

If you have any translation guidelines or previously-formatted documents to which you would like to maintain adherence, share these with your medical translation company as part of the intake procedures. Does your printer have hi-res PDF crop or bleed settings requirements? Does your design area use a document coding system? Share all of this information ahead of time.

Special formatting needs can be addressed ahead of time (such as working with right-to-left languages—for example, Arabic or Urdu). How are special font requirements going to be handled? Now is the time to talk about these issues in order to avoid formatting problems and critical delays from happening later.

Even though the translation agency will likely have their own formatting guidelines in place, giving them as much additional information as possible at the onset will help ensure that your project is delivered in print-ready condition, accurately, correctly, and on time.

2. Check the Agency’s Quality Processes

The majority of medical translation services will provide online information about their quality processes that you can share with sponsors or other parties. But why not also include your translation partner in kick-off calls that you have with your team, clients, or other stakeholders, especially for new, multi-country or multi-site studies?

Always ask about translation processes, QA standards (translation/editing/archiving), back translations, Translation Certification, and in-country review guidelines. Establish agreed upon deadlines and milestones to make sure that your timing needs will be met.

3. Be Clear on the Scope of Your Project

As early as possible, it’s crucial that you establish the scope of your project with the translation company with which you are working. This will ultimately help ensure a successful translation outcome because everyone will understand what the overall objectives are and how they need to be achieved. Understanding the full scope of your project, including possible regulatory compliance requirements, can reduce potential problems from arising further down the line.

Include open discussions about the potential budget and cost-related issues (for example, scenarios for possible rush translation needs and availability). Where are your sites? Are there countries which share the same languages (Canada and France; Portugal and Brazil; Egypt and Saudi Arabia)? It is imperative to discuss these situations up front with your translation company.

4. Provide Roles and Contact Details

The art of achieving accurate medical document translation each and every time is to set up clear and reliable communication practices. Questions may arise when your translations are being performed. Always make sure the company you’re using has the full contact details of the staff and personnel who are responsible for communicating preferences, answering technical questions, or making a call about a content question that a translator cannot. Translation providers understand some clients travel frequently and may prefer different means of communication, so letting them know your preferred method of communication up front will ensure timely communication.

Establishing good communication channels between yourself and your medical translation company will build a positive working relationship of trust on which you can rely. This will allow you to smoothly deal with complications or formatting issues and avoid delays and costly errors, thus ensuring the on-time delivery of your translations projects.