Language Industry Standards
With thousands of translation and localization companies in the world, each company has its own way of doing things. For an outsider, it can be hard to evaluate whether a potential partner is following best practices and using efficient processes. How good is a supplier’s quality? Will I get professional service? Do they have a procedure in place for when something goes wrong? When faced with these and other questions, industry standards can be useful to differentiate companies and make decisions about suppliers.
Demonstrating professionalism to customers is an important reason why translation companies adhere to and become certified in standards. Moreover, preparing for certification and audit helps organize, document, and improve internal processes. Finally, some RFPs require participants to be certified, particularly when working in regulated sectors.
Translation and localization industry standards are not static; they change and develop over time. There are dozens of parallel standards from organizations around the world, and only a few of them are broadly popular (see lists below). Standards certifications are only one measure of a company's maturity and competence. If you're evaluating a service provider, be sure to look beyond the certification at other criteria to ensure a proper fit with your projects and goals.
The most popular certifications in the language industry are issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
- ISO 9001:2015 quality management systems
- ISO 17100:2015 translation services
- ISO 18587:2017 post editing of machine translation output
- ISO 13485:2016 medical devices quality management systems
ASTM International is another standards body serving translation and localization sector.
- ASTM F3130-18 Standard Practice for Language Service Companies
- ASTM F2575-14 Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation
- ASTM 2089-15 Standard Practice for Language Interpreting
GALA encourages language services companies to consider the benefits and costs of certification carefully, but it is not engaged in the certification process.
GALA's standards work is driven by the GALA Standards Committee which has ongoing projects creating educational and reference materials, providing analysis and recommendations, and advocating for standardization in the areas where it is most needed.
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