ISO 17100: Certified translation service

Apostroph Group gained its industry standard EN 15038 quality certification back in October 2013. May 2017 saw this European standard replaced by one with an international scope, ISO 17100. This defines key quality criteria which are specific to the translation services industry worldwide, including the vocational training and skills of translators, training of project managers, and provisions regarding data and information security.

International criteria promote high quality

Although the minimum requirements for gaining ISO 17100 certification might sound rather dry, they not only impact our way of working and our day-to-day tasks, but also give you the assurance that we as an accredited translation agency will deliver a top quality service.

Apostroph Group gained certification to ISO 9001 way back in 1996, thus laying the cornerstone for its current accreditation. The company’s key processes were documented in writing and made available to staff in electronic form – a considerable achievement back in 1996 and wise forward planning in the light of digitalisation and the need to reduce paper consumption.

Key processes were put in place shortly after the company’s founding; here are some of them:

- Offer preparation (with follow-ups by telephone): quotes issued for services are binding and based on an analysis of the text and the size of the order.

- Contract agreement: once the customer agrees to the quote and delivery terms, we confirm the scope of the order, its price and deadlines in writing. Everything must be comprehensively documented.

- Order entry; analysis and processing: we use clear guidelines to carry out an in-depth analysis of incoming orders for their size, degree of difficulty and time required. 

- Project feasibility: is the customer’s preferred deadline realistic, and is a suitable language professional (or regular translator) available? Only once these points have been clarified do we proceed to the next step in the process – the quote.

- Project traceability: it pays to be systematic – if questions regarding an order arise weeks or even months after its completion, our systematic procedures allow us to trace its workflow from its administration to the degree of customer satisfaction with the translation. The entire process is, of course, paperless.

- Follow-up and rating of customer satisfaction: we are keen to ensure our customers’ satisfaction, which is why we ask for feedback on each translation or linguistic service delivered, our adherence to the deadline and other quality-related criteria. 

- Contact with the customer during the translation process: as you would expect, we allocate personal project managers to oversee all aspects of the customer experience – after all, talking to someone is often the quickest way to sort things out. 

- Internal quality assurance and preparation, checking and approval of instructions: to keep our procedural documentation up to date and meet the quality criteria specified by the norm, we subject our documentation to regular scrutiny and adapt it to actual circumstances. 

- Complaints: our professional, standardised complaints procedure comes into play should you be dissatisfied with an aspect of our service. Neutral appraisals by native-speaking professionals take place at key stages of the process.

- Billing and receivables: we issue invoices in line with your wishes – as digital PDFs or printed on paper, after each order or on a monthly or project basis with details of purchase orders and cost centres.

As a result of our EN 15038 and now ISO 17100 certifications, we have expanded our documentation and process descriptions. They now include the following processes, amongst others:

- Professional vendor management: structured, simplified processes for the recruitment of new language professionals.

- Appraisal of translators’ training and skills: standard process for checking application dossiers, test phase, test appraisals, and regular sampling and inspection.

- Management of personnel resources: our easy-to-use technology-enabled personnel planning system informs us which of our translation and other language professionals are available at any given moment. 

- Experience as a translator: anyone wishing to work for Apostroph Group must be able to provide evidence of at least five years’ experience in a similar role. References are subjected to spot checks.

- Processes relating to the continuous professional development of translators, editors, appraisers and proofreaders.

- Another new feature is the data security requirement: Apostroph Group ensures the confidentiality of the information passing through its hands by way of non-disclosure agreements and service-level agreements, which all project manager employees and service-providing freelancers are required to sign. Moreover, we never store data in the cloud, but guarantee that your data is kept securely on our own servers in Switzerland. And just so you know, all the information that passes between us and our freelancers is transmitted via our self-developed encrypted portal, myFREELANCE.

Your added value thanks to our ISO 17100 certification

In sum, the aforementioned “dry” criteria mean the following in practice: Apostroph appraises every single translation job, conducts regular spot checks using neutral assessors, and takes steps to ascertain customer satisfaction. All the results are recorded on a daily basis in the company’s own ERP system. Meanwhile each freelancer receives a biannual report on his/her performance alongside news of Apostroph Group.

New freelancers are recruited in accordance with clear procedures based on set evaluation standards. Apostroph Group’s professional vendor management programme is, for example, responsible for scrutinising all incoming application dossiers for such aspects as missing documentation. Academic qualifications and CVs are checked for authenticity, and personal references followed up. After this comes a test phase involving a minimum of three trial texts appraised by a neutral assessor paid for by Apostroph Group.

Introduced when the company was founded to provide an excellent quality-assurance framework for our translations, our self-developed and quality-certified APOS (APostroph Order System) ERP and order-fulfilment application is maintained and upgraded on a regular basis.

More certifications: ISO 9001

Want to know more about our accreditations and high quality standards? As a Swiss company, we aim to deliver uncompromising quality. Our heads of operations at our offices in Bern, Lausanne, Lucerne and Zurich can tell you more.

And, naturally enough, our project managers look forward to receiving your orders and offering advice. Are you “lost in translation”? If so, do contact us – or send us your order using the myAPOSTROPH encrypted ordering portal.