The Translation Centre strongly believes that sustained quality requires planning and organisation at management level, and has therefore adopted a set of actions to be implemented before, during and after translation.

All actions come under four pillars:

1.    quality prerequisites: preliminary actions enabling the creation of the right conditions for effective and efficient translation;
2.    quality control and quality evaluation: actions taken during the translation process itself and ex-post actions;
3.    client engagement: actions focusing on the clients’ needs and expectations;
4.    quality metrics: actions enabling the Centre to take stock of its performance and improve its outputs.

Quality prerequisites

The key aspect in this area is the rigorous selection of in-house translators. The Centre recruits its staff on the basis of two General Implementing Provisions on the recruitment of temporary agents and contract staff.

Another important aspect under this pillar is the linguistic quality of original texts for which the Centre offers editing services to its clients. In this respect, the Centre has drafted a booklet entitled Writing for translation / Écrire pour être traduit which is part of the information package given to all new clients. In addition, the Centre has implemented a modern workflow management system, eCdT, which integrates state‑of‑the‑art CAT tools.

The Centre also carefully defines the public procurement criteria for the selection of external service providers, so that translation framework contracts are awarded to the best external contractors.

Quality control and quality evaluation

Our linguists systematically check and revise the work completed by external contractors. As well as ensuring the quality of texts before delivery to clients, this process also steadily increases the quality of freelance work throughout the duration of framework contracts. A reranking procedure is used to move external contractors upwards or downwards in the ranking according to the quality of their work, so that those with the best ratings eventually progress towards the top of the external contractors’ list. An assessment sheet is filled in for each external job, which contains not only an overall assessment of the translation quality but also, where necessary, detailed information on the types of errors encountered. In-house revisers may also draft feedback for freelance translators and, where appropriate, the corrected work will be sent to external service providers for future reference. In the first half of 2018, the Centre integrated machine translation output into its pre-processing stage as suggestions which could be used during translation. The quality control of machine translation output is called post-editing.

All in-house translations are cross-checked by a colleague of the same language group, in line with the four-eyes principle and with the criteria defined in the Translation Quality Assurance Manual.

Alongside these pre-delivery checks, in 2010 the Centre introduced ex-post quality checks performed on a random sample basis, whereby in-house translations are assessed by external experts.

Client engagement

In order to meet one of the most frequently expressed needs of its clients, the Centre has established a single operational point of contact responsible for dealing with matters raised by clients or by translators in relation to translation requests submitted by clients. The Workflow Management Section is the single point of contact for all client requests, from job reception to delivery, including after-sales services.

The Centre uses a number of tools to assess and ensure quality and client satisfaction, in particular the Corrected Version Request (CVR). This allows clients who use the Centre’s Client Portal to request a corrected version and provide positive or negative feedback on any document delivered, thereby enabling the Centre to take note of client preferences and address any recurring issues at the same time. In addition to replying to feedback received on a case-by-case basis, client comments are reviewed at an operational level to assess whether more wide-ranging quality measures can be undertaken to meet client requirements.

The Centre also conducts periodic client surveys to measure long-term user satisfaction and identify areas for improvement in terms of linguistic quality and the quality of its services as a whole. Such surveys are useful to identify client perceptions of the Centre’s strengths and weaknesses and to take stock of how well the Centre is performing generally as regards compliance with deadlines, quality, its responsiveness to issues and its understanding of client-specific needs and business environments.

Quality metrics

The assessment of translation quality involves the definition and measurement of quality metrics in order to generate improvements. The effectiveness of the Centre’s translation quality approach is therefore ensured through a coordinated and balanced implementation of all these components. The Centre is making use of several data sources (internal reports, CVRs, surveys, audits and client visits, ex-post quality checks, etc.) to feed its translation quality process. The purpose is to quantify the current performance of translation and service levels against established quality objectives and client requirements so as to bring about further improvements.

The Centre has a quality management model in place to enable it to continually improve its service level and the quality of translation. The quality management model is based on a process approach which involves: 

a) identifying the Centre’s macro processes,
b) identifying the key management, business and support processes that contribute most to the implementation of the Centre’s Strategy,
c) describing the key processes according to the level of expertise required,
d) analysing real and/or potential risks, and 
e) continuously improving the processes by analysing how they work and reviewing how effective they are. 

The management supervision system is based on quarterly performance reviews (at department level) and effectiveness reviews (at top management level), followed by cascade briefings. 

Key performance indicators are in place to measure the performance of the Centre’s processes in relation to translation quality and service levels.