How to manage the quality of translation business

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By Ana Teresa Gaspar
As previously stated in the article How to Make New Clients as a Freelance Translator, doing great quality jobs, among other essential requirements, is crucial to succeeding in the translation market. Linguistic and cultural competencies in the translation business are necessary but not sufficient. Other criteria are often necessary to be met to satisfy the needs of the client.
According to Kumar (2017), along with the explosive growth of translation services in the 1990s, clients’ requirements and expectations also changed at a fast pace. From then on, the lack of client-oriented guidelines lead to a conflict between assumptions and goals of clients and suppliers, therefore affecting, the project quality and reflecting a special need for setting up quality standards to address the concerns of clients and language service providers.
One question that may arise concerning translation services is how their quality and performance should be measured. First of all, as pointed out by Kumar (2017) there is no agreement on the universal concept of quality. This implies that a multitude of ways of evaluating the quality of products or services exists. In view of this, we can state categorically that standards in translation are necessary due to the difficulty to measure quality as well as to provide guidance and ensure quality itself, safety, reliability, confidentiality, and efficiency of products and services.
This way, with such standards, developed for setting a reference guide to assure quality to the end user as wells as establishing the terms and conditions for agreement on some rights and responsibilities between the client and translator, not only client’s or end-user's expectations would be met, but they would also contribute to the professional development and continuous improvement of the translator.
Inspired to some extent by the quality standards developed by a number of standardizing bodies for different types of business, some standards were formulated by professional associations and organizations around the world specifically for translation business. The application of these systems enables that some criteria of quality be met.
The quality control has been object of attention of various quality standards. For a full understanding of each existing quality standard, the reader is referred to the bibliography of the relevant standardization bodies in order to comprehend how they evolved and what are the responsibilities of each party involved before starting a translation work.
Examples of the most widespread quality standards, developed in different countries, that set the general guidelines for Quality Management in translation business include: Italy’s UNI 10574 standard, Germany’s DIN 2345 standard, Austria’s Önorm D 1200 and Önorm D 1201 standards, China’s GBIT 1965 standard, USA’s ASTM 2576, European Quality Standards for Translation Services - EN 15038, Canada’s standards.  
However, these standards, formulated to increase efficiency, were developed at a national level in a number of countries, resulting in a lack of consensus and implying in a need to adapting all national standards universally. As a consequence, companies started to adopt the International Standardization Organization, more specifically, the ISO 9001. However, since it can be applied to any type of organization, it did not become widely accepted for not addressing specific processes for translation. And more recently, the new version of ISO series, ISO17100, came into force, replacing the European EN 15038, covering requirements for the provision of translation services, and other related services as editing and proofreading.
A quality standard certification can be granted to a translation service provider committed to quality management systems, be it a company or an individual, through an accreditation body. The certification can be used as a tool to add credibility to the service provider. A client is able to identify those service providers who apply the standards of quality of determined association to their work.
Although, a certification provides benefits for both, the translator provider and the client, regarding better working practices, assuring quality and guarantee of the reliability of products and services, in case of impossibility of applying for certification, since it is a complicated, lengthy and costly process, the translator must do the best possible to use a consist process to meet the requirements of high quality standards. The adherence to such standard procedures can aid the translation service provider honoring the commitment to quality, bringing down costs and meeting deadlines.
Aiming to improve quality, its control should be adopted since the beginning, passing through all the phases of the translation process. Quality control in the translation process is not limited to just checking grammar and spelling. Not only the linguistic aspects but non-linguistic aspects, i.e., technical aspects, must be managed from beginning to end of the translation process for maintaining compliance with the various types of quality standards aforementioned.
Linguistic and non-linguistic aspects to be covered in quality control include omissions, spelling, grammar, untranslatables, letter case, punctuation and spacing, quotes and apostrophes, measurement, tags, numbers and ranges, repeated words, consistency, terminology.
And last, but not least, technology is an important ally to aid reaching quality standards. The use of Computer Assisted Tools, or CAT Tools, plays a valuable role in the linguistic and non-linguistic aspects, aiding to optimize the productivity and guarantee the quality of the translation work.  Translations can be made at a faster pace with quality and consistency while style and terminology are maintained over time.
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