EN15038 Quality Standard

EN15038 is a quality standard developed especially for translation services providers. The EN15038 standard ensures the consistent quality of the service. It requires regular audits by the certification body, and if any discrepancy is found, the certification shall be revoked.
Many European translation companies have long felt the need for a reliable method of demonstrating the quality of the services they provide to their customers. Many sought ISO 9001 certification as a demonstration of their commitment to quality management systems. However, as the ISO 9001 standard does not address the sort of translation-specific processes, which many translators consider important in determining quality outcomes, this standard did not become widely accepted as a "guarantee of quality" in the industry. In 2006, a quality standard, specifically written for the translation industry, EN 15038, was published by CEN, the European Committee for Standardization. This was a serious attempt to provide certification of translation-specific quality management using independent, on-site audits by recognized certification bodies. This standard is gaining acceptance worldwide and the European Union has begun including it as a benchmark in its tender specifications.

Scope and Definition

An area not covered by EN15038 is the interpreting and service matrix. While the committee developing the standard recognized the value of including Interpretation within the scope of the standard, it was felt that managing interpreting quality would make developing the standard more difficult and it would extend the process.
Within the translation industry many words are used to describe different processes from one company to another. It is very important for anyone who intends to implement EN 15038 that they understand the meaning of the terms and definitions used in the standard. The standard also uses the terms ‘should’ and ‘shall’. When the word ‘shall’ is used, it is obligatory while ‘should’ is used for recommended.

The following are some of the terms, which are defined in the standard:

  • Translation Service Provider (TSP) – An organization or person who supplies translation services. Also known as Language Service Provider (LSP).
  • Added value service – Services which can be provided by a TSP in addition to translation.
  • Competence – Demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skill
  • Interpreting – Rendering of spoken information in the source language into the target language in spoken form.
  • Translation – Rendering of written text in the source language into the target language.
  • Translator – Person who translates.
  • Source text – The original text. The text, which is being translated.
  • Target text – The translated text.
  • Locale – The linguistic, cultural, technical and geographical conventions of the target audience
  • Revise – Examine a translation for its suitability for the agreed purpose, compare the source and target texts, and recommend corrective measures.
  • Reviser – Person who revises.
  • Review – Examine a target text for its suitability for the agreed purpose and respect for the conventions of the domain to which it belongs and recommend corrective measures.
  • Reviewer – Person who reviews. Proofreading – Checking of proofs before publication.

Main Provisions

The EN15038 standard set out the:

  • Basic requirements for the human resources and process used in the provision of translation services.
  • Client – TSP relationship.
  • Procedures for translation services.

The appendices provide additional information on project registration, technical pre-translation process, source text analysis, style guides and a non exhaustive list of added value services.