All About Quality: Making Sense of ISO Certification in Translation

  |  August 1, 2018

ISO certification in translation means quality.

Quality is defined as “a measure of excellence or a state of being free from defects, deficiencies, and significant variations.” This can apply to personnel, processes, customer service, and a host of other factors, including the product or services produced by a business.

Measuring, verifying, and even maintaining a high standard of excellence is the purpose of ISO certification. When considering professional document translation services for your business, you want that guaranteed level of quality.

With ISO-certified quality processes in place, your translation services partner will produce only the most accurate translations of your important inward- and outward-facing communications. This level of quality begins at the top and filters throughout the entire organization.

“It has been my experience, with several companies, that the culture change associated with ISO implementation is multilayered,” ASQ senior member Bud Salsbury writes on ASQ’s Ask the Experts blog. “The first and most obvious benefit is quality awareness. Even those who exhibit strong resistance to change learn to respect and very much appreciate all the practical value in a good quality management system.”

This sense of quality awareness—and the resulting relentless pursuit of quality processes and services—means good news for clients. That’s the culture you want to see in your translation services provider.

Is It Important for Your Translation Provider to Hold ISO Certification?

The short answer? Absolutely!

Certified translation services successfully capture and convey the information and intent of source materials. This kind of translation quality is essential in highly technical realms where such pinpoint accuracy prevents a loss of reputation or even loss of life.

When searching for a document translation service, you want your products or services represented by the highest possible quality translation. A translation services partner possessing ISO 9001:2015 accreditation has proven that their process and standards will produce high-quality translations.

ISO certification demonstrates that your document translation partner follows organizational measures to ensure quality. This may also be important if your own internal quality procedures require you to document that all the vendors in your supply chain adhere to ISO certification requirements.

For example, some federally funded or regulated operations require ISO certification requirements to be met by any entity connected with the end product or service.

Does your #translation provider have the latest ISO certification? Click To Tweet

A Broad Look at the ISO Certification Process

As part of the ISO certification process, a translation services provider must implement and monitor documented quality measures. Specific sections of those requirements that fall under ISO 9001:2015 include:

  • A defined quality management system, including specific documentation for information, planning, and determining process interactions
  • Responsibilities of management
  • Management of resources, including human resources and an organization’s work environment  
  • Product realization, including the steps from design to delivery
  • Measurement, analysis, and continuous improvement of the quality management system through activities like internal audits and corrective and preventive action

Current ISO 9001 certification requirements, including the ISO 9001:2015 standard, follow the “plan-do-check-act” methodology. They provide a process-oriented approach to documenting and reviewing the structure, responsibilities, and procedures required to achieve the most effective quality management in any organization.

Companies must demonstrate a complete implementation of these measures within a given amount of time to a certified ISO 9001 consultant. Once any audit findings are resolved and a sufficient amount of system records exist to verify that your QMS is working effectively, a company may file for official ISO 9001 certification.

Understanding the Latest ISO Certification Standards

The ISO 9001:2015 version of the standard brings a number of benefits that affect  translation services. How is it different from the previous standard, ISO 9001:2008? The ISO 9001:2015 standard:

  • Demands a greater level of leadership engagement
  • Addresses organizational opportunities and risks in a structured manner
  • Adopts a simplified language with a common structure and terms  
  • Addresses more effective supply chain management  
  • Is more user-friendly for service and knowledge-based organizations

The 2015 version of the ISO 9001 standard increases the focus on risks and opportunities, especially when identifying potential problems and opportunities for improvement in quality management system processes.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the people and the processes employed by your translation services provider. ISO certification means more than systems and documentation; it means quality people on your team.

At ILS, that includes highly experienced native language translators who are also subject matter experts. It means a dedicated project manager whose sole responsibility is your satisfaction and an editing, proofing, and formatting team who are dedicated to getting the smallest details correct.