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Purchasing high-quality translations (1/2)

Purchasing high-quality translations

Purchasing high-quality translations (1/2)


If you are thinking of purchasing a product or service from a company, there are a series of standards that you should take into account that guarantee their quality. National and international bodies create these standards for almost all products, services and processes. Below, we will explain a series of basic concepts that will help you to understand the importance of these standards.

What is a quality standard?

A standard is a document that contains a series of technical specifications and other guidelines on a product or service. The main aim of these standards is to serve as an example to be followed in order to ensure the quality of the products or services. It is not mandatory to apply these standards, which is why they are referred to as standards or recommendations.

Who creates quality standards?

There are numerous international, national and regional bodies that create and approve the standards. On an international level, three of the most renowned bodies are the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

On a European level, three independent bodies are officially recognised: the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

In Spain the standardization body that creates standards is the Spanish Association for Standardization and Certification (AENOR).

How are quality standards created?

Standards are created at the core of a standardization body. Committees and working groups are formed by all parties interested in the process or product that is the subject of the standard. The committee members discuss the content of the standard until they reach an agreement and then they vote to approve it.

How is it guaranteed that a product or service complies with a standard?

In order to guarantee that a product or service complies with a specific standard, a certification process must be carried out. This process is supervised by a body that assesses whether the products or services comply with specific standards. This assessment is carried out through various audits. If the process or service meets the specifications included in the standard, the certifying body will award a certificate that is valid for three years.

Which standards apply to the translation sector?

There are two standards that companies must comply with in order to ensure the quality of translation services. They are the ISO 9001 and the ISO 17100 (formerly the UNE-EN 15038). The ISO 9001 is a general standard that can be applied to any organization, regardless of its type, size or product. The ISO 17100 standard is specific to translation services and defines the requirements that a translation agency must comply with.

Both standards were amended in 2015. In the case of the ISO 9001 standard, a new version was approved in September 2015: the ISO 9001-2015. This change means that certified companies must adapt their systems and documentation to the requirements of the new version by September 2018. In terms of the ISO 17100 standard, the ISO body published the new version in English in May 2015, thereby replacing the UNE 15038. The Spanish version was published in November of the same year. In upcoming posts, we will go into more detail regarding the content of these two standards and the changes introduced by the new versions, so that you can get to know the requirements that a translation service with certified quality should meet.

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