Stopping at baseline compliance with ISO quality standards is a missed opportunity for both the localization provider and its customers.
The expectations from life sciences customers of their language service providers (LSPs) go beyond mere certification to ISO standards. A supplier is seen as a partner in managing quality and risk, and their quality management system is considered an extension of their own.
- Elements or procedures that may seem secondary from a language service provider’s point of view have crucial relevance to the customer’s own management system, and therefore, understandably need to be respected and incorporated.
- It is not surprising that the importance of the broader business context of the organization, the customer, and other interested parties, as well as the need for a comprehensive approach to risk is being recognized in the new, updated version of the 9001 standard (ISO 9001:2015).
Commitment and discipline essential
Maintaining an effective Quality Management System is not a trivial job. It requires commitment from management, dedication of qualified resources, and operational discipline. Efficiency is key to feasibility through the proper use of existing tools, materials, and practices to achieve full compliance. Therefore, these additional expectations from customers may at first seem an extra hurdle, but in reality can offer both the customer and the LSP many incremental benefits:
- An increased focus on training has a direct impact on improved employee performance
- Further standardization of procedures promotes consistent results
- Traceability and record keeping drive accountability in a field where human error can play a big role
- Disciplined risk assessment and review minimize potential pitfalls in the fast-paced environment of translation services
- An enhanced quality system gives the organization the tools to correct procedures when failure occurs and the framework to continually improve the processes
A stronger partnership
However, the ultimate benefit is when the localization provider’s quality management system evolves to more closely resemble that of its customer, it builds up an understanding of the customer’s business environment and gives both customer and supplier a common platform to collaborate toward improved product quality and an even stronger partnership.
A strategic quality system does not reflect a theoretical standard, but becomes the standard between supplier and customer, which they can in turn use to align common goals and avoid shared risks.
What strategies do you have to ensure evolving quality standards align with your language service provider’s standards?
For more information, email Marcio Correa at email@example.com.
Marcio Correa is Manager, Global Quality and Process for Lionbridge Life Sciences, serving as ISO Management Representative and Certified Lead Auditor, and holds a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.