management and quality

Certification

As was mentioned in the section on standardisation, the ultimate objective of standards is certification. The EN-15038 categorically defines this as its objective in its scope.

Nevertheless, there is a certain amount of confusion regarding certification, as some companies declare that they are certified even though they are not. In reality, all they are doing is just a self-declaration. This can be misleading to customers, who may interpret such a declaration as real certification, which could not be further from the reality. The following text explains all the possibilities and will clarify any doubts you may have:

Certification:also known as third party certification. This involves a certification organisation recognised by an accredited organisation – such as the Entidad Nacional de Acreditación y Certificación (ENAC) in Spain and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) in the UK – carrying out a documentary audit on the applicant’s premises. The organisation must verify that the company is applying the standard correctly: the company must have procedures that comply with the standard and must keep and show the records to prove that this is the case. Certified companies that use this system of certification may use the relevant marks of conformity and receive a certification registration number. This is the form of certification that provides most value, since it means that the company is certified by an accredited – and more importantly, independent – organisation.

Evaluation of acceptance: this is when a translation company is obliged to apply the evaluation process of one of its regular customers or prospects (for example, a government body or a department of a large multinational), which then awards the translation company the status of accepted provider. In this case, there is no audit by a certified organisation. There may be an audit by the customer, but normally the customer is not an accredited organisation.

Self-declaration: in this case, the company simply states that its procedures comply with the standard. No audit takes place, except any audit the company might carry out internally. The company may use some kind of mark of declaration, but this mark must be different to the mark of certification, with no possibility for confusion. But this is where confusion arises, because self-declared companies often sell their mark as if it were real certification, whereas the differences between self-declaration and certification, in terms of verified compliance, are obvious. The underlying reason behind this confusion is that the general public is normally unaware of the difference, as they usually see a seal and assume that it is a form of certification and that everything is in order.

More information on this topic. For more information on certification, see The Translation Service Provider’s Guide to BS EN-15038 (Chris Cox, 2006, BSI; ISBN num. 0 580 49074 2).