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Centralized vs. Decentralized Translation: Which Approach Suits the Life Science Industry?

In today's global marketplace, the life science industry is no stranger to the complexities of managing translations across multiple languages. As these companies expand their reach into diverse markets, they face a crucial decision – should they centralize their translation efforts at their headquarters or decentralize the process to their local offices in target markets? In this article, we'll delve into these two models and compare their advantages and disadvantages, helping life science companies make informed decisions when it comes to managing their translation needs.

Centralized Translation Management

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In a centralized model, all translation activities are coordinated and managed by the corporate headquarters. When a local office, such as a pharmaceutical or medical device registration applicant, needs translation services, they submit their request to the globalization team at the headquarters.


Upon receiving the request, the globalization team checks its existing vendor network to identify suppliers capable of meeting the demand. If no suitable vendor is available, the vendor management team at the headquarters initiates a request for proposal (RFP) process to find new suppliers. Once a suitable vendor is identified, the vendor management team recommends them to the globalization team. Typically, these selected suppliers offer multilingual translation services, often referred to as Multilingual Language Vendors (MLVs).


The globalization team then contacts the supplier's project management team to allocate the translation project. The supplier's project management team undertakes the translation, completes the project, and delivers it to the globalization team. The globalization team reviews the final translation before submitting it to the requester.


Regarding the financial process, when assigning projects to suppliers, the supplier quotes for the work based on the project's scope. Once the globalization team approves the quote, a Purchase Order (PO) is issued to the supplier. After project completion, the supplier's financial team submits an invoice, and the corporate finance department at the headquarters processes the payment. Post-project completion, the corporate finance department reconciles the accounts with the local office's finance team.


In this model, it's important to note that all translation workflow and vendor management responsibilities are centralized at the corporate headquarters. Local offices are primarily responsible for submitting translation requests and making payments. This is known as centralized translation management.


Decentralized Translation Management


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In contrast, decentralized translation management omits the central headquarters from the equation. When a translation need arises, the requester directly communicates with the local supplier management department or, if they already have established suppliers, contacts these vendors. Typically, these suppliers primarily provide single-language translation services, known as Single Language Vendors (SLVs).


Suppliers quote for the work based on the requester's job requirements. Upon approval, the requester issues a PO. After project completion, the supplier team submits the translation to the requester for inspection. The requester checks the work, decides whether to accept it, and the supplier submits an invoice. Payment is then processed by the local office's finance department. In a decentralized model, each local office independently manages its translation requirements, relying on local supplier relationships to fulfill its needs.

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