EN15038 is a quality standard developed and implemented in 2006 specifically for certified translation services in European countries. It was established by the European Committee for Standardization or CEN, in response to the request for a trusty method to demonstrate the quality of services of providers of translation services in the EU. EN15038 is a translation-industry specific standard with various criteria that benefit not only the providers of translation services but the clients they serve, since this is an assurance of the high quality of service from certified members.
Reliable method of quality assurance
Language services providers in Europe had been looking for a trusty method to show the quality of their translation services and thought that ISO 9001 would be the right solution. However, they found out that the ISO 9001 certification did not cover the specific processes involved in translation, the very thing that the industry was after. The establishment of EN15038 demonstrated the industry-wide commitment of language services providers to certify that the quality of their translation services is of the highest level. Member companies undergo regular on-site independent audits done by distinguished certification groups. There is already worldwide acceptance of the standard and the EU has already started including it as a benchmark when requesting and submitting translation project bid specifications.
The industry-specific standard has several characteristics, including the following:
- Determination of the essentials for the professional competencies of each person working on the translation;
- Determination of the requisites for the process to employed in the translation services and client-supplier relationship; and
- Establishment of the translation plan, such as management of the project, translation plan and actual translation.
Obtaining the certification
A translation company must submit itself to an audit by a third-party certifying body before certification could be issued. The certifying body must be licensed by a registrar to issue the certificate.
The audit involves an intensive appraisal of the quality control system of the language services provider. A provider is required to prove the following through documentation and monitoring:
- Client inquiry management;
- Project feasibility determination, quotation preparation and client agreements;
- Preparation of terms and conditions of the project contract;
- Establishment of the competencies of all people involved in the translation work;
- Technical resources availability and project assignment;
- Pre-translation process flow (style guides, determination of terminologies, analysis of source texts);
- Project management team and quality assurance team;
- Proposal for related services;
- Documentation of the work flow processes;
- Final verification of the translation work; and
- Project conclusion and delivery
An EN15038 certification is continuous as long as the certified translation company submits to regular audits to ensure that the level of their services are within the levels set by the CEN. The certification is subject to immediate revocation once a discrepancy is detected.
Service provider benefits
Although obtaining the EN15038 Certification is quite rigid, it does provide many benefits to translation companies who are serving European clients and markets. It provides the company with a strict set of guidelines to follow, improves technical and human resources, and helps improve the company's image and market position. It likewise helps the company achieve efficiency and cost-effectiveness, improve internal communication, and improve key business processes and the satisfaction of customers.
An EN15038-certified company assures clients that their translation project will be handled in conformance with the exacting international standards of quality. It guarantees that the technical and human resources of the translation provider conform to the given standards. The client is assured that the supplier has strict quality assurance and project management in place; that their project would be handled safely and confidentially; and that there is continuous company monitoring and improvement, thus providing clients with very high-quality translation work.