Quality Standards in Translation Services

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img 1555q 2By Letícia Pasqualotto
Originally, quality standards were developed for manufacturing business, most related to industrial production. The creation of standardized machinery would increase the productivity, avoiding errors and maintaining a specific line of design for the product. That way, saving time and money for the clients and guaranteeing a higher level of quality.
With globalization and its enormous technological advances, which are increasing every year exponentially, this expression is recently being related to the translation business. We experienced a shift in the customer’s requirements and expectations in relation to the translation service. Translators are required to work more efficiently and standardized not only in the linguistic and terminological field but also in the translation company’s organization.
However, standardizing companies that deals with different linguistic pairs is a very subjective process since each country has its own standardization organization in order to deal with processes and services. Therefore, translation companies are applying the International Standardization Organization. The ISO 9001 handles how to treat your employees and organize them accordingly to the client’s necessity. An ISO system takes into account the client experience as much as the industry expectations, using this system the company can better identify problems regarding its management and increase efficiency and productivity lowering the costs for both clients and service providers.  
Now, specifically for the translation services providers, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) published the EN: 15038, which is the European equivalent of ISO. It is a deeply thorough standard, which is divided in three major sections. The first one being basic requirements, this section summarizes the competences that is required for the translator, as in the technological and communication equipment necessary for the use of each type of job (technical, commercial, legal translation).
In the sequence, we have the standard steps for the client and translation service provider (TSP) relationship. The consultation of the client with the TSP and viability of the project, quotation rules, and the agreement of both parts regarding what will be done and who will do it, and handling the client information, meaning the glossaries and translation memories handed over by the client and that the translator is required to use for determined project. The third section is subdivided in three parts, the Project Management part that deals with the properly documented procedures and agreements when handling all translation process involved in a project. The Preparation for the job which include all the necessary things to start the project such as project registration, project assignment, technical resources, pre-translating process, source text analysis, terminology work and the style guide. Finally, the translation itself with the following steps: checking, revision, review, proofreading and final verification.

All of these processes can be useful for the translation business; however, it is more suitable for a specific area of translation. Like legal translations, regarding passport issues, immigration issues, visa issues, or commercial and technical translations that have a more specific terminology as these areas deals with documents that are already standardized in each country by their own rules. By standardizing an industry that deals with foreign matters, even though these areas require a specific terminology, we have to be careful not to limit the linguistic aspects and end up stagnating the language.
Despite being useful for the translation business, the quality standards systems proved effective only to translation companies, the freelance business still suffers with some of the meticulous processes of the EN: 15038. For translators working from home it would be impossible to complete some of the client – professional “requirements”. Besides, along with the ISO 9001, these two systems seems more focused on the quality management of the company instead of the translation itself, by prioritizing the relationship with clients and the organization features of translation projects.
The systems cited have a clear view of the importance of the quality control in each step of the production process, with supervisions and regular contact with clients. Nonetheless, it cannot forget the essentials for the translation quality such as translation tools and research through various informational sources. It is understandable that these systems have yet a long way to improve in order to supply a full quality standard for the translation industry.
In the end, the translation companies willing to adapt to the use of quality standards systems are more likely to have a more functional quality management than those who do not, and that along with freelancers would tend to have a weaker margin of clientele. Managing the company to keep the best interest of the client and find the best translator for the kind of job the customer needs, showing them that it is a serious and respected company. Doing so increases the chance to retaining clients and having a long and continuous relationship with them hence the need for the adaptation of the translation industry into a networking business. Yet it does not guarantee a high-level quality translation.
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