Updated standard ISO 11669: Planning and commissioning translation projects

The updated standard ISO 11669 “Translation Projects – General Guidance” was published in March. It supports clients in specifying requirements for translation projects and has been expanded to include current and important topics such as machine translation and translation risks. We have taken a look at the update and classify why and how it takes different contexts into account and meets requirements.

Texts must meet requirements. Instructions for commissioning a system, for example, have a different purpose, a different risk level and correspondingly different content requirements than a marketing flyer or software interface texts. These different requirements essentially determine what needs to be taken into account during translation in order to deliver quality – in terms of meeting all requirements.
Even more importantly, requirements have a direct impact on the translation process itself. You determine which steps need to be taken or which technology is used. It is therefore essential that customers identify their requirements in order to commission translation projects on a meaningful basis. Translation service providers are on hand to provide advice, so the standard is also helpful to them. And if you are still looking for a suitable service provider, the standard will assist you too. This makes the ISO 11669 standard a useful toolbox full of helpful tips and checklists for many involved participants in the process.

The ISO 11669 standard has been around since 2012, but so far has received little attention in Germany. In 2020, the revision of the standard by the ISO committee for translation services began under the project management of Angelika Vaasa (European Commission) and Ingemar Strandvik (European Parliament). Our Head of Quality Management, Eva-Maria Tillmann, also contributed to this as one of the DIN representatives. The content of the standard has been significantly adapted and updated, and new and important topics, such as machine translation and translation risks, have been added. So if you already have the old version, purchasing the updated version is essential. If you don’t yet have either of them, don’t delay in registering your interest now!

The German version is currently being translated by DIN. We will inform you when it is available for public comment. The final German version is expected to be published in 2025.

A new planning aid for quality

Quality always needs an understandable benchmark and can only be considered in connection with set requirements, regardless of the topic and context. After all, quality is then always achieved when all requirements for a product or service are met.

The standards ISO 17100 for human translations, ISO 18587 for the post-editing of machine translation and, last but not least, ISO 9001 oblige translation service providers to identify and document customer requirements and to design processes leading to the translation product as well as quality assurance measures and checks in such a way that, ideally, all requirements are met upon delivery to the customer.

Systematic approach

Translations must therefore be considered as products that must meet requirements. As mentioned at the outset, different requirements apply to translations depending on the client, department, text type or product. To be able to deliver quality, the translation service provider must be aware of these requirements. If this is not the case, texts can only be translated to the best of translators’ knowledge and belief.

Clients must therefore specify their requirements for translation projects so that the right translation partners with the appropriate qualifications can be used and the service provider receives all the necessary information to provide the translation service.

Planning and commissioning translations

The updated ISO 11669 standard contains a lot of useful information on individual steps in the translation project, types of translation services, quality assurance, project communication and all the important issues regarding the use of non-post-edited machine translation. Above all, however, it enables readers to develop structured specifications for their own translation projects. Starting with the analysis of the basic requirements (text type, purpose, languages), risk assessment (with regard to translation errors and their effects) right through to the concrete definition of specifications based on multiple parameters, the standard serves as a guide for defining requirements. It also contains numerous appendices with checklists and questions to help you select a translation service provider, request a quote or decide whether terminology work would be useful.

This makes the ISO 11669 standard an important tool for anyone wanting to identify, define or scrutinise their requirements for translations and translation projects.

Would you like to find out more about identifying translation project specifications and translation risks, translation quality or the updated standard? Then get in touch with our Head of Quality Management at e.tillmann@oneword.de.

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