ISO STANDARDS and What They Mean for LSPs

If you’re a newcomer to the language services industry — or even if you’re not — you may find it tricky to sort through all the weeds of ISO standards and certifications. After all, the names of each certification can sound like a somewhat cryptic mishmash of numbers and letters.

When clients search for a language service provider, they’ll likely want to check that a given company is qualified to complete the job they need done — ISO standards provide an objective way to measure a given company’s capacity to complete a job while complying with any relevant regulations.

So how’s someone supposed to know their ISO 9001 from their ISO 17100 from their ISO 20228? We’ve created the following guide to some of the main ISO standards LSPs should look into. 

While it’s far from comprehensive — there are enough ISO standards across different fields and specialties to fill the pages of an entire issue of this very magazine — we’ll break down eight of the most important standards for LSPs to look into, depending upon their specialties.

ISO 9001

First thing’s first: This is a more general standard that outlines the criteria for quality management systems (QMS). This certification is one of the most widely used and shows that a company meets the requirements to provide services and products that consistently meet the needs and expectations of their clients.

ISO 17100

This is one of the most common standards you’ll come across in the language services industry, as it specifically applies to the field of translation. It essentially sets the framework for all of the qualifications and competencies of translators, revisers, and anybody else involved in the translation process.

ISO 18587

Another common standard in the field of language services, this one ensures that companies are qualified to adequately post-edit the output of translations created by machine translation (MT) systems.

ISO/ TS 11669

This standard is used to provide guidance for the various phases within a given translation project, specifically regarding the ways in which a client and company communicate with each other during the process of requesting and developing a translation project.

ISO 20109

This is the first standard on our list having to do with interpreting services, rather than translation services. This standard outlines the requirements for companies that provide simultaneous interpreting.

ISO 27001

This is another more general standard relating to information security — specifically, companies that meet this standard are equipped to establish and implement mechanisms that protect clients’ information data. This is particularly important to protect a company from cyber risks.

ISO 13485

This standard is particularly important for LSPs that provide services in the medical field — specifically, companies that are involved in the localization and manufacturing of medical devices. 

ISO 20228

Companies that provide interpreting services in a courtroom or legal setting will want to look into this standard, as it specifies the requirements and competencies of legal interpreters and ensures that they are familiar with the basic principles of providing interpreting services in a legal setting.   

Andrew Warner is a staff writer for MultiLingual.