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The ISO 17100 standard: What is it?

Standards play an all-important role and provide a universal framework for guaranteeing the quality, security and efficacy of both products and processes. Amongst the multitude of standards out there, ISO standards stand out as the unrivaled global reference when it comes to quality and excellence. The International Organization for Standardization sets out rigorous criteria and strict procedural requirements to offer a robust framework for assessing and improving performances in various fields.

In the field of translation, the quest for quality and accuracy is equal parts constant and paramount. ISO 17100 has therefore become an essential reference, establishing international standards for translation services. This standard is now a cornerstone for quality, guaranteeing high and consistent performance levels in a field where reliability and coherence are critical.

In this article, we'll take a deep dive into ISO 17100, taking an in-depth look at both its scope and its importance.

Definition of the ISO 17100 standard

Published in 2015, ISO 17100 is an international standard specifically for translation services. It's taken over from the European EN ISO 15038 standard, which became obsolete as it no longer met client requirements.

This new standard steps up to fill an expanding gap in the translation agency: Establishing a universal framework for consistently managing translation and assessing quality. Created at the outcome of an audit organized by an independent body, the ISO 17100 standard is valid for a 3-year period. This means that linguistic service providers (LSPs) need to constantly be able to prove that they're meeting the specifications and complying with the rules established in order to renew their certified status.

Taking up the baton from its 2006 predecessor, ISO 17100 goes one step further to propose more precise guidelines for quality management in the translation process. It highlights relations between service providers and their clients. It clearly lays out the steps for the project, from the signing of the contract right up to completion. In particular, it introduces the notion of a "four-eyes" process, whereby each translation undergoes a control step carried out by a second professional translator. Plus, the ISO 17100 standard insists on the necessity for translators and editors alike to continuously update and upgrade their skills.

Beyond its basic requirements, ISO 17100 covers various aspects of translation services, such as project management, the qualifications required for those involved, the management of technical and human resources, and matters of data protection and confidentiality. It aims to guarantee that translations meet clients' specific requirements while also ensuring optimal translation project management.

Often a key requirement in calls for tenders, since its publication, ISO 17100 has become an essential benchmark in the translation industry. LSPs can use this certification to demonstrate their commitment to delivering quality and compliance to their clients. On top of this, given the standard's renown not only within the European sector but also internationally, ISO 17100 offers a sound framework for comparing translation agencies, no matter where they're based.

ISO 17100: The requirements and the process

With ISO 17100, the terminology used throughout the translation process can be standardized, which not only facilitates communication with ISO-certified service providers, but also enables comparison based on uniform criteria. The utility of this standardization becomes all the more evident for those who aren't familiar with the industry.

This standard sheds light on the pre-production, production, and post-production processes that go into a translation project. Each step is described to a high degree of detail, along with the appropriate resources, such as computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, specialist glossaries to guarantee the quality and consistency of translations, and further information and materials. It covers diverse concepts and methods specific to translation, including aspects ranging from administration, technology and techniques to quality control, project management, and reporting.

This means that, as we've already mentioned, ISO 17100 sets rigorous requirements for linguistic service providers. The overarching aim is to guarantee a high level of quality and professionalism at every step of the translation process.

Below, we've put together a quick overview of the main requirements set by the standard, for each part of the translation process from resource management to post-production:

  1. Resources: LSPs need to work exclusively with qualified reviewers/proofreaders. When upholding this standard, each person involved in the translation process needs to have established and verifiable skills, whether they're the translator, the reviewer, or the project manager. Translators in particular need to have a recognized higher-education qualification in translation, along with at least 5 years of experience in professional translation. The ISO 17100 standard also requires translation agencies to keep an up-to-date record of the necessary skills.
  2. Pre-production: This involves managing requests for quotes, establishing agreements with clients on project specifications, completing feasibility assessments, and handling administrative and technical aspects of projects.
  3. Production process: This phase reviews how the translation is managed, with an expert translator drafting and checking the text, followed by a second linguist who carries out a specialist review of the text — these two sets of eyes leading to the concept being christened as the "four-eyes principle". A project manager is in charge of overseeing the delivery of the translation.
  4. Post-production: ISO 17100 insists on the interaction with clients throughout the entire process, particularly when it comes to handling amendments, complaints, and assessing client satisfaction. Client complaint documentation must be put in place, along with procedures for assessing client satisfaction and administrative closing.

ISO 17100: The advantages

For LSPs

Complying with ISO 17100 offers multiple advantages to linguistic service providers. First of all, it boosts their credibility and company reputation by demonstrating their commitment to quality. This in turn elevates their competitive edge, increasing their chances of success in calls for tenders, and also adds transparency to their processes (which tends to be seen as an asset). Moreover, it allows LSPs to guarantee consistency and reliability with their translation services: two essential factors for both generating loyalty among existing clients and attracting new clients. Lastly, it guarantees improved management of translation processes, which in turn translates into (pardon the pun) enhanced efficiency, making sure that deadlines are respected.

For clients

For clients, working with a linguistic service provider that has ISO 17100 certification offers peace of mind. It means that they can expect high-quality translations produced by qualified and experienced translators. In addition, they're also getting the assurance that the translation projects will be overseen by project managers who ensure that orders are delivered in compliance with the established rules. This way, by working with certified LSPs, clients can be sure that their translation projects are being managed efficiently and with clear, specific processes. On top of this, there's the fact that they can also rest assured that the teams dedicated to their projects are committed to constantly improving their performance and skills, both in technical and technological terms.

Data is protected, so files can't just disappear into the ether and will be kept protected from unauthorized, prying eyes should they contain sensitive or confidential information.

Lastly, using the services of certified LSPs also allows clients to benefit from a higher level of terminology consistency, which is essential to maintaining the integrity of their content across different languages and markets.

Powerling and ISO 17100

Here at Powerling, we're proud to meet and uphold the highest standards in the translation industry, including ISO 17100. As a multilingual agency specializing in managing multilingual content, we're committed to delivering translation services of the highest quality to our clients around the world. To do this, we work with highly qualified and experienced hand-selected linguists, using rigorous quality management processes and investing in leading-edge technologies to enable us to guarantee an extremely high degree of accuracy and consistency in the translations that we deliver.

Plus, here at Powerling, ISO 17100 is incorporated into every aspect of our translation processes. We start by carefully choosing the right translators for each project, based on their linguistic skills, their expertise in the specific domains at hand, and their professional experience. Next, we deploy structured translation processes and quality control checkpoints to guarantee the precision and coherence of the translations. Our project management team also ensures that translation projects are completed within the agreed time frames and in line with clients' specific requirements.

What's more, we strongly believe in the importance of continuous learning to maintain our high quality standards. We make sure that our teams stay up to date with the latest industry developments and continue to provide translations of exceptional quality for our clients.

To conclude, ISO 17100 plays a central role in quality assurance and consistency in translation services. For linguistic service providers like Powerling, complying with this standard is non-negotiable when it comes to guaranteeing client satisfaction and upholding a reputation for excellence in the industry. When they choose to work with an ISO 17100-certified LSP, clients can have total trust in the quality and reliability of the translations they receive, which is essential in today's world where globalization and interconnected business reign.

Have you got a translation project on the cards? Do you have multilingual content to translate? Get in touch with our teams today!

NEWS : Powerling has recently acquired WCS group.

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