International standards issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have long been recognized and accepted in the manufacturing world, but have been less widely applied to services like the translation industry. Yet ISO certification can be equally beneficial when selecting and working with language service suppliers.
What are ISO 9001 and the translation-specific ISO 17100 all about and how can they benefit your company?
ISO 9001 is the international standard that specifies criteria for a quality management system: the collection of policies, processes, and records that define how your company creates and delivers your product or service to your customers. It covers the responsibilities of management, the steps of product realization from design to delivery, measurement, and analysis of process outputs, and management of resources and the workplace. It was first published in 1987 and has been approved by more than 160 countries. The current version of ISO 9001 was released in September 2015.
This standard applies to all organizations, regardless of industry or size. Certified organizations
use the standard to demonstrate their ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer requirements and to demonstrate their commitment to continuous improvement. More than 875,000 organizations in more than 190 countries were certified to this standard in 2018.
This is a relatively new official global standard, which as of November 2015 supersedes the old European standard EN 15038. Whereas ISO 9001 is very general and applies to all industries regardless of product or service, ISO 17100 is specific to the translation industry. It outlines the requirements for the core processes and resources necessary for the delivery of a quality translation service that meets client specifications, industry codes, and best-practice guides or legislation. It also defines the minimum qualification requirements for human resources (translators, revisers/editors, reviewers, proofreaders, project managers, IT and technology resources) and mandates the safe and confidential handling of data.
Certification to both of these standards is issued by independent bodies based on extensive on-site audits by professional auditors. Annual surveillance audits ensure continuing compliance with the latest updates to the standard.
WHY ARE THESE STANDARDS IMPORTANT?
The benefits of ISO standards have been experienced by companies of all sizes operating all over the globe.
- Implementation of ISO standards leads to higher operational efficiency and greater quality and consistency of outputs. This leads to cost savings, more on-time deliveries and fewer complaints over time.
- Certification to these standards simplifies the selection and ongoing qualification of new suppliers. They provide black/white proof of a supplier’s continuing commitment to quality and continuous improvement. Your own ISO audits are easier and faster when you can show that your suppliers are also certified.
- ISO certification differentiates professional organizations invested in their long-term development and their customers’ needs from fly-by-night companies interested in short-term gains. You will be able to rely on and build long-term relationships with ISO-certified suppliers.
- The process definition and documentation required by these ISO standards opens up the black box and allows transparency into a supplier’s processes, communication structures and responsibilities. This can simplify the integration of supplier processes into your internal workflow.
- Process measurement and analysis are required by these standards: an ISO-certified supplier should be able to show you data on the quality of their outputs. This allows you to understand the suppliers’ inputs into your system and make evidence-based decisions.
ISO CERTIFICATION IN PRACTICE
OmniLingua has been focused on high-quality processes and outputs since the mid-1990s and was first certified to ISO 9001 in 2009. Since then, OmniLingua has been audited annually by the well-respected global certifying body TÜV SÜD and is certified to both ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 17100:2015. To address the specific needs of our clients in the Medical Devices industry, OmniLingua is also certified to ISO 13485:2016, which we’ll write about in our next blog.