Guaranteed translation quality: How standards help to ensure the highest levels of quality

Language service providers promise their customers a high-quality and professional service everywhere and at all times. This is not at all easy in the age of digital transformation, which brings continuous change and constant new demands. For this very reason, standards help to maintain a high level and to design processes so that the best quality levels can always be achieved. Eva-Maria Tillmann, Head of Quality Management at oneword and expert in efficient processes, explained in a recent publication by the German Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (BDÜ) why certification is a good basis for the highest possible quality levels, but why service providers also shouldn’t rest on their laurels.

Translation quality in the digital age

Quality is a catchword for which the definition is not clear. It’s promised on flyers, websites or in quotes. And, as is common knowledge, promises shouldn’t be broken.

But how can high-quality translations be guaranteed in our fast-moving and digital age? The German Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (BDÜ) has used this question as an opportunity to hear from experts in the industry in the “Translation Quality in the Age of Digital Transformation” anthology. The result: A substantial guide, which reflects insights, tips, strategies and suggestions from their daily work, as well as dealing with theoretical principles and offers a reflected and multi-faceted introduction to the subject of translation quality.

One of the topics covered in this guide is standards, as a benchmark for the highest possible quality in the translation industry, and certifications, as proof of the company’s continual compliance. It’s explained using oneword’s own various facets of experience, itself certified to DIN EN ISO 17100 and one of only a few language service providers also certified to DIN ISO 18587. In her contribution, our expert for quality management, Eva-Maria Tillmann, focuses on the definitive connection between specifications and achieving the highest possible quality.

Certifications as the basis of quality management

The key to successful cooperation is to deliver high quality levels all the time. This means that measures have to be taken, skills have to be established, and guidelines have to be defined and regularly reviewed. Every language service provider has to actively pursue quality management and never accept the status quo as sufficient at any time.

Quality management is not a dead-end street that ends at the customer’s doorstep. The expert also sees the client as being responsible for ensuring high quality levels. It’s key that the customer communicates their aims clearly as this allows service providers to start in the right place and deliver high-quality results. The process standard therefore also requires intensive consultation with the client, complete documentation and adequate information management.

Certifications such as DIN EN ISO 17100 therefore provide important and relevant momentum for service providers to put a great deal of effort into their own processes, selecting suppliers, optimising processes, and constantly achieving defined quality objectives. However, precisely because the standard itself can’t define translation as an end product or translation quality in general terms, the customer’s input is an important and central component of the ISO 17100 process standard: quality management must be understood as an ongoing, interactive and reciprocal process, which can only respond to the highly changing needs, challenges and quality objectives in translation management and ensure the best-possible quality if communication between contractor and client is constantly maintained.

The “Translation Quality in the Age of Digital Transformation” anthology brings together high-quality contributions and valuable insights across 550 pages and can be ordered here.

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