“Sorry – you’re what?”
Ah – OK… perhaps “Certified” works better!
ISO – the International Standards Organisation – issues standards that govern the essential requirements to be met for – well, lots of things. Among the best known are ISO 9001, which governs Quality Management Systems, and ISO 14001, for Environmental Management Systems.
Achieving ISO certification is a Pretty Big Deal. It’s big for you, because it helps to reassure you that what you’ll receive from us will meet the key requirements of the applicable ISOs.
And it’s big for us because it means that all the work we’ve put in to ensuring we are REALLY good at what we do has been formally recognised.In the language industry there are two ISOs that really matter: ISO 17100 and ISO 18841.
We’re delighted to announce that we’ve just been accredited to both – you can check the official record here.
Let’s take a look at them.
BS EN ISO 17100:2015 – Translation Services
“BS, EN, ISO – that’s a lot of letters…?”
Well, ISO is covered above. Then as a UK company, we need to be certified to the British Standard (BS), which is the UK implementation of EN ISO 17100:2015. The “EN” means European Standard, derived from the German “Europäische Norm” which embodies ISO standards into the EU. This one – BS EN ISO 17100 – “specifies requirements for all aspects of the translation process directly affecting the quality and delivery of translation services.”
Put another way, accreditation to BS EN ISO 17100 means that the essential requirements for performing translation services here in Lifeline Language Services have been audited, and are being met. So you can trust our work.
What ISO accreditation doesn’t tell you is the extra ways Lifeline assures you of great translation. Think of an ISO as a recipe to follow; do these things, and the dish will turn out OK. But beyond the recipe, good cooks add expertise and skills and ingredients to make that dish excellent – and that is what we aim for here. That’s why our people aren’t like those you’ll find in most language providers, nor are our unique systems or trusted partners. Which all helps to bring us great feedback and returning clients.
Naturally we’re delighted to be accredited to ISO 17100. But will it change us? No – because we’ve always worked this way, to ensure you of the best, most cost-effective translation, and the least possible hassle.
One thing ISO 17100 requires is a Complaints System, to ensure that should issues arise, they are properly handled so the customer is looked after. And of course we have such a system. But when it came to demonstrating that to the assessor we had a problem – because – since we never actually get complaints – there was only one record in it, and that for a minor issue on an interpreting job… Still, should it ever be required we do indeed have a system. And one the assessor was happy with, too.
BS EN ISO 18841:2015 – Interpreting Services
Similarly to ISO 17100, accreditation to ISO 18841 means that the essential requirements for delivering interpreting services here have been audited, and are being met.
But again, that only tells half the story. What it doesn’t tell you is that we don’t have impersonal unfriendly booking portals, or disinterested “project managers” emailing unhappy and tired interpreters who are forced to work long hours for a pittance, often having to pay for their own fuel or travel. Nor do we have “interpreters” with no qualifications and minimal experience.
Because over and above the ISO requirements we have friendly, personable, real and experienced project managers you can actually speak to, who know most of our interpreters well, and make every appointment in person, actually talking to the interpreters to ensure they’re comfortable with the assignment and aren’t over-stretched. All our interpreters are well-qualified, experienced, and carefully selected for your assignment. We also pay them properly – including fuel and other travel costs. So you can be sure your interpreter is professional, unrushed, friendly and supportive, which means that you and your service user are assured of the best experience.
So again, of course we’re delighted to be accredited to ISO 18841. But again, it won’t change us – because in our interpreting, as in our translation, we’ve always worked this way to assure you of the best, most cost-effective interpreting, and least hassle, possible.
Several years ago, one of our PMs attended an industry conference. At coffee, she was chatting to a high-calibre London interpreter and asked her if she’d like to work with us. “Oh, I never work with agencies, can’t trust them.” came the brusque response. “Who did you say you worked for?” “Lifeline Languages”, replied our PM. “Oh, Lifeline! That’s different – I’d LOVE to work with you!”
And she still is. Reputation matters. And as a sidenote, the PM concerned is herself now a well-respected conference interpreter – one of a number of our staff we’re proud to have set on a successful career in language!
“Hang on – these ISOs have been around since 2015. Why are you only now getting accredited?”
Time. One side effect of running a successful language company is that there’s never any time to spare.
In our case, it took COVID to quieten things down enough for us to take a step back and assemble the documentation needed for ISO assessment. And now, here we are.
Our team – especially Fiona – have worked brilliantly to achieve this, and have earned a big Thank You – hopefully the celebratory Prosecco and snacks went down well!