by Reinhild Möller
Translation as a profession is not regulated, meaning anybody with some level of language skills can offer translation services. Added to this is increasing price pressure, which makes discount suppliers from countries with low price levels attractive to clients. How can translators who have gained their qualifications through many years of study and work as full-time professionals set themselves apart from the crowd? The key word is quality – at competitive prices.
But what does “quality” mean? Quality is not an absolute value. It has to be defined. According to ISO 9000:2015 Quality management systems - Fundamentals and vocabulary, quality is the “degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of an object fulfils requirements”.
Therefore the quality of a translation depends on the standards set for it. As well as the service provider’s own quality standard, it is the customer’s requirements that are decisive. In other words whoever satisfies the customer delivers quality. Thus the customer base that a translation services provider wishes to address plays a crucial role. Many clients view the translations of their source texts as a showcase for their own company. Thus the demands placed on translations are correspondingly high. These discerning customers are the target audience of exact!. We speak our customers’ language and it is important to us that our translations can be used immediately.
But how do we achieve quality that meets both our customers’ and our own demands? Through comprehensive quality management that covers all areas and processes in our company. Through quality management that is continuously monitored and adapted to new circumstances. Through quality management that has become second nature for all our employees.
exact!’s quality management system is put to the test twice. In the scope of our certification in accordance with ISO 17100, the entire translation procedure is regularly subjected to thorough testing by an external auditor. In addition, we have already been certified in accordance with ISO 9001 since 2013 and respond to questioning by a second external auditor every year.
Our quality assurance aims to make certain that fixed quality requirements are met. It therefore includes all measures that are used to analyse, monitor and ensure that a specified quality level is achieved and maintained. With this in mind, the quality assurance is proactive and preventative and aims to help stop errors from occurring and avoid customer complaints.
For this reason, exact! records relevant information on every customer in a file that is continuously updated. With this, every translator has access to specific guidelines, instructions and specifications for the customer in question in a clear format. We also maintain customer-specific translation and terminology databases. exact!’s internal style guidelines apply if no information from the customer is available.
Before and during the translation, the project manager or the translator at exact! clarifies general or project-related questions with our customer’s contact person. Working and control check lists ensure that specifications and established procedures are adhered to. A standardised procedure ensures a smooth work flow even for larger projects and when several translators are involved.
Every translator independently performs quality assurance during the translation by complying with all terminological, customer-specific and project-specific requirements. In addition, every translation is revised and checked to ensure that the language, terminology and content are correct and that the translation is complete. Furthermore, after completing a translation, every translator performs a spell check and adjusts the formatting of the translation to that of the source text (if necessary).
The bilingual revision is performed in accordance with either the single control principle or the dual control principle, depending on the customer’s wishes.
Project post-processing ensures that all reference material is updated and made available to all those involved in future projects. If our customers make any terminological or translation-related requests, we subsequently incorporate these into the translation database and terminology database.
Our quality controls are performed by an exact! translator for internal and external translators at specified intervals. This involves a third translator checking either an entire translation or random sections based on specific criteria and procedures. The results of quality controls are recorded in evaluation sheets and assessed. The translators concerned then receive feedback regarding the quality of their translation. Quality controls are used to rank the status of translators and as evidence of the quality of translations produced by exact!.
With our quality management system, we aim to guarantee excellent translations in predictable and reproducible quality, in keeping with our customers’ wishes. We achieve this by covering all company areas and processes. Quality management is a team effort. We ensure that every single employee at exact! is aware of their contribution and responsibility.
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