ISO Certification
Thread poster: Cecilia Falk

Cecilia Falk  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:54
English to Swedish
Mar 4, 2005

Hello,
I would be interested to hear views on ISO Certification of translation companies.

ISO Certification is presumed to ensure quality through the implementation of documented routines. This seems relevant for e.g. the manufacturing industry, but when it comes to translation I don’t think that the *content* of a translation can be ensured only through following a documented work flow. For example, this means that the flexibility necessary for creative work partly is made impossible: In a small project I might use one approach, in a larger project maybe a totally different. My impression is that translation companies that are ISO Certified has not taken into account the differences in how various projects should be handled for best result.
To put it bluntly I in fact think that an ISO Certification in our business rather indicates a "dinosaur syndrome" with a bureaucratic organization,
which does not promote the linguistic quality in any way.
To count misspellings and grammatical errors in a translation can indeed give an indication of a certain lack of quality, but a document with no such errors can still not be guaranteed to be of good quality.
As I have understood it a company documents its routines and then guarantees that they are adhered to. The problem with certification of translations companies is maybe that the documentation of the routines are just not of good quality, and that they have not catered for alternative scenarios, etc?

It would be very interesting to hear how other translators feel about this, and also to hear from any agency that is ISO certified.

Best regards,
Cecilia


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Russell Gillis  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:54
Spanish to English
Useful for manufacturers, pointless for agencies Mar 4, 2005

I totally agree with you on the usefulness of ISO Certification. All it does it certify that certain quality procedures are followed in the office. It can't measure the actual quality of a translation.

For manufacturing companies, having this certification is a huge marketing boost. However, for translation agencies, it doesn't have any bearing on what kind of translators/proofreaders are used. Of course, most clients don't know this and may favour an agency with ISO Certification.

I believe I have only encountered one agency that touted its ISO Certification, so I think most agencies understand that this certification is really pointless in this line of business.

I remember working in the Marketing department of a manufacturer that was undergoing its ISO audit. Never at any time did it affect my work, since Marketing material (just like translations) cannot be run through quality checks like a manufactured product.


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Paula Dana Szabados  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 07:54
Member (2005)
English to Romanian
+ ...
ISO 9001:2000 Mar 4, 2005

Quality management, as it is “officially”, can be applied both by the manufacturing and the service industry. Correctly applied, it is a very useful and powerful way of doing business, I mean useful for all parts involved: the company itself, its customers and suppliers. I am sure it can be successfully applied in translation and as far as I could see many translation agencies are ISO 9001:2000 certified. Certification may not be necessary as the implementation is important, but following the implementation, the company is able to find many corrective or preventive actions to be done and the result is continual improvement. I would recommend the implementation of ISO 9001:2000 for the translation companies and I try to use quality principles as much as I can in my activity.
Don’t you apply the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle in your everyday activity? If you do, you started to use Deming’s cycle and ISO 9001:2000 is based on it. I would like to write more but I’m in the middle of “Do” step.

Dana Szabados
Head of the Quality Management Deaprtment of a large chemical plant in Romania

[Edited at 2005-03-05 05:09]


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:54
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
ISO 900x doesn't guarantee quality translated text Mar 4, 2005

ISO 900x certification doesn't dictate how you do anything. As already mentioned above, it focuses on total quality management with a number of key points as the impetus for doing so, one of these being customer satisfaction.
ISO won't guarantee that the end resulting product will be high quality or not. What it does do is help provide a framework for you to show that you know what you are doing, that you know how you do it, and that you know how to deliver it in a way that demonstrates a good and improvable process.
How you specifically guarantee the quality of the final product is your own doing. ISO 900x simply allow you to show that to yourself, to internal and external partner team members, and to your customers.
For example, Translation/Edit/Proof (TEP) is a standard translation workflow process. ISO 900x allows you to show that you know the one or several ways that the requests come in for the job, that you document the request with job numbers, that you store the originals in an organized place, that you go through the TEP process in a way that can be reproduced by any new employee with the necessary skill set, and that your delivery method and invoicing methods are sound.
The quality of the translated text through the TEP workflow depends on your own methods. ISO just demonstrates that you know how you apply them.

I am currently helping my company achieve ISO 9000:2001 and CMMI certification, and we are trying to do it as electronically as possible to keep it from becoming to paperwork heavy.

Jeff
Quality Management Program Manager, Mycom France
http://www.geocities.com/jeffallenpubs/


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:54
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
ISO 900x doesn't prohibit alternative workflows Mar 4, 2005

Cecilia Falk wrote:
....but when it comes to translation I don’t think that the *content* of a translation can be ensured only through following a documented work flow. For example, this means that the flexibility necessary for creative work partly is made impossible: ....
As I have understood it a company documents its routines and then guarantees that they are adhered to. The problem with certification of translations companies is maybe that the documentation of the routines are just not of good quality, and that they have not catered for alternative scenarios, etc?


Nothing in the ISO 900x framework restricts you from having multiple documentation workflows. At Caterpillar 10 years ago, we had 7 different translation workflows depending on the language pair, available tools, available internal or external resources, etc.
At my current job, we have multiple workflows depending on whether customers are direct vs through channel partnerships, and due to a few other factors. It is only necessary to document each one with separate work instructions for each one, or provide a common core procedure, and alternatives for anything that deviates from the core.

Jeff
http://www.geocities.com/jeffallenpubs/


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Paula Dana Szabados  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 07:54
Member (2005)
English to Romanian
+ ...
one standard Mar 5, 2005

That's the purpose of having only one standard, as ISO 9001:2001 took the place of the old versions: ISO 9001, 9002, 9003.
Having a certified quality management system does not give a "quality certificate" for your product or for the service you provide, it only shows that the product is made or the service is delivered in a way that you wanted it to be done. You have to decide the way you're doing it. It's a very flexible standard.


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:54
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
Difference between Quality Management standards and Translation Quality Assessment metrics Aug 29, 2005

Paula Dana Szabados wrote:
That's the purpose of having only one standard, as ISO 9001:2001 took the place of the old versions: ISO 9001, 9002, 9003.
Having a certified quality management system does not give a "quality certificate" for your product or for the service you provide, it only shows that the product is made or the service is delivered in a way that you wanted it to be done. You have to decide the way you're doing it. It's a very flexible standard.


As mentioned above, certification on these ISO standards for Total Quality Management only shows that the processes used for the system are reliable, but not that the translaiton product itself is excellent quality.

For Translation Quality Assessment metrics to measure the quality of the translated product, a list is below:

Helen Eckersley. 2002. Systems for evaluating translation quality: SAE J2450 and ITR Blackjack offer two approaches to ensuring translation consistency. Multilingual Computing & Technology, #47 Volume 13 Issue 3

Rick Woyde. 2002. Translation needs in auto manufacturing. Multilingual Computing & Technology, #46 Volume 13 Issue 2

Also, one of the first discussions about the SAEJ2450 translation quality metric was published in:

Translation Quality Evaluation. In International Journal for Language and Documentation (IJLD), Issue 3, January 2000, pp. 24-25.

also:

Translation Quality Assessment: An Overview
by Geoffrey Kingscott
http://www.lisa.org/archive_domain/newsletters/prologin.html?
refer=http://www.lisa.org/archive_domain/newsletters/2003/2.4/kingscott.html
(Geoff makes a very good and clear distinction between different levels of translation assessment in the big fuzzy category of what so many people simply call translation quality. WARNING: this is Premium content of the LISA newsletter, so you need to be a LISA member to access the page. Geoff can be contacted at: geoffrey.kingscott@btopenworld.com )

Also:
Getting the Original Right
by Geoffrey Kingscott
http://www.lisa.org/archive_domain/newsletters/2003/4.5/kingscott.html
(Not necessary to be a LISA member to access this article)

go to:
[MT-List] updated links: articles in MLCT on MT, TM, postediting
http://www.mail-archive.com/mt-list@eamt.org/msg00549.html

Jeff
http://www.geocities.com/jeffallenpubs/about-jeffallen.htm


[Edited at 2005-08-29 21:42]


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