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04/02/2021 - Quality

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The language industry continues to enjoy positive growth, which also increases the international competition between translation service providers. As a customer, how can you separate the wheat from the chaff when choosing a language services partner? Our tip: Ensure they have ISO certifications. This crucial factor should always be on your decision-making checklist. Our blog post will tell you everything you need to know about the relevant ISO standards, what you need to keep uppermost in your mind, and the long-term advantages you can expect.

ISO standards: Avoiding a pig in a poke

If you buy a proverbial pig in a poke, it means you don't know what you're actually getting. ISO standards provide a clear and transparent explanation of the work and quality to be provided for specific services and processes. This means you can avoid buying a pig in a poke and rely on well-established norms. These standards are developed by international ISO committees created specifically for this purpose, are applicable worldwide, and take into account the needs of all stakeholders (such as suppliers, customers and certification authorities). At the same time, they must be effective in all languages, markets and company sizes.


As a customer, you will enjoy long-term benefits when the standards are accepted, put into practice and applied concretely in existing processes. You will also receive the service quality you expect – and on a consistent basis. All of the standards are revised at regular intervals to ensure that the quality remains uniform in the long term as well. This is particularly important in the language industry, since the very nature of languages and the ongoing development of language technologies mean that the industry undergoes constant change.

ISO standards in the language industry

ISO standards are steadily gaining popularity within the language industry. The ISO (International Organization for Standardization), with headquarters in Geneva, has published 16 relevant standards in the field of translation and interpreting.


The following three standards are designed specifically for translations:


- ISO 17100:2015 (Translation services) standardises the competences and qualifications of translators, revisers and project managers as well as their further training and the translation process.
ISO 18587:2017 (Post-editing) standardises the competences and qualifications of post-editors and their further training as well as the post-editing process.
ISO 20771:2020 (Legal translation) standardises the competences and qualifications of legal translators and revisers as well as their further training, the translation process and confidentiality aspects for legal translations.


Furthermore, standards ISO 9001 (Quality management, QMS) and ISO 27001 (Information security management) contribute significantly to ensuring the quality and security of translations. These are certainly aspects that clients find important, since according to a survey conducted by SDL in 2017, 89% of participants indicated that they place a higher priority on the quality of a translation than on the price.

3 reasons why your translations will benefit from ISO certifications

 

An ISO certification is more than just a framed decoration for your office wall. ISO standards lay the foundation for premium-quality translations in the language industry. It's not only the certified company that profits thanks to optimised processes and lower costs; as the client, you reap the most benefits because you receive translations from SwissGlobal, for example, that are produced in accordance with the requirements of ISO 9001:2015, ISO 17100:2015 and ISO 27001:2013. But what does that actually mean in practical terms? The following are the three most important benefits of ISO certifications:

1.    ISO means certified quality

SwissGlobal is ISO-certified and operates in accordance with the specified standards. But here’s something to keep in mind: ISO does not always stand for the real ISO – there is a significant difference between registering with ISO and actually being certified. For example, any translation agency can register for a small fee, i.e. by buying a one-off logo indicating that its services conform to a certain ISO standard. However, this compliance is neither tested nor verified by independent experts.


On the other hand, an actual ISO certification indicates verification by an official certification company (e.g. SGS) that the systems, processes, products and employees of a company comply with the requirements of the corresponding ISO standard. To accomplish this, the certification company carries out an initial certification, annual surveillance audits, and a comprehensive recertification audit after three years. This is the only way to ensure that your translations benefit from certified quality.


A certified quality management system must also be checked regularly in order to guarantee not only consistent quality but also ongoing process optimisation.

2.    ISO means qualified and competent resources

A primary requirement for ISO 17100 certification is that both internal and external linguists (translators, revisers, proofreaders, etc.) are audited regarding their quality and qualifications and possess verifiable, well-defined competences. In addition, linguists and project managers need to maintain and continue to develop their skills through steady work and ongoing further training.
As a client, you can take advantage of our carefully selected human resources, because even a professional translator cannot simply translate every text that comes their way.

 

For example, translating a Swiss rental agreement into British English and translating a German-language Swiss corporate contract into US English are two very different kettles of fish. Terminology and orthography differ from country to country, not to mention laws and legal systems. For this reason, the linguists we employ for our translation and quality assurance processes are not only linguistically qualified but also possess the required cultural and technical expertise.

3.     ISO means absolute security when handling your data

Two further essential standards are ISO 9001 (Quality management systems, QMS) and ISO 27001 (Information security management).


- ISO 9001 also ensures process quality in the context of risk management; this means that the language services provider determines the risks relevant to its services and develops appropriate measures to contain or avoid them. This includes such areas as cyber crime, the handling of confidential data, and IT disruptions. 
-  The ISO 27001 standard guarantees information security by specifying the requirements for the development, implementation, maintenance and continuous improvement of information security management systems.

 

In summary

Our ISO certifications send a clear signal to our clients, partners and competition: SwissGlobal places a top priority on premium quality. Our certificates are not just something to hang on the office wall but rather proof of the ongoing commitment of all our employees to deliver the quality you expect as our client. In the end, you enjoy long-term benefits from the high quality standards we adhere to at SwissGlobal, as well as from our data security that includes servers located in Switzerland.