5 tips for your next ISO audit

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Every project manager knows the struggle when it comes to prepare for the next ISO audit. Not only is it a hassle to keep track of which vendors are actually ISO certified, but especially the documentation and file management can be a problem; as hard as one tries to maintain a proper folder structure, when day X comes, and the auditioner asks for that specific document that you just stacked away so neatly, finding it at the right moment becomes like a search for the needle in a haystack. What’s more, following all steps that make you ISO-certified, from the request confirmation to your clients, up to the feedback and complaint management, makes ISO a bureaucratic necessity that many LSP’s could do without.


However, there are many benefits in getting an ISO certification, 9001:2015 and/or 17100, and to follow their standards, if you continually want to improve your language services and get a competitive advantage. While both certificates are aimed at the overall enhancement of your services by following the guidelines of the International Organization for Standardization, ISO 9001:2015 generally focuses on customer satisfaction via Quality Management Systems (QMS) that can be implemented at any type of organization, ISO 17100 is specifically designed for the translation industry. It ensures that the delivered translations reach a quality standard by


– Only engaging qualified translators with a specification in the required field
– Reviewing the translations by a certified revisor to follow the four-eye-principle
– Creating ISO-certified workflows
– Having all of your processes well documented
– Tracking feedback and complaints for your customers and vendors


Following all of these steps might not sound like the most exciting part of the project manager’s work, especially not since their own workload is more often than not quite stressful in itself. However, in order to make their next ISO audits as easy as possible, many of our clients have chosen to implement Plunet’s QualityManager in their customary setup, as it allows them to follow each ISO requirement with ease. Since the QualityManager is specifically designed to help document ISO processes, each individual proviso is taken into account, for example:


Request confirmation
An automatic email is sent if the client is using the customer portal
Human resources
Vendor profiles allow for proper documentation of qualifications, which can further be used
as search filters when looking for the right supplier.
ISO certified workflows
Customizable workflows make it easy to follow and document the required Translation –
Revision workflow
Feedback management
The system allows for the rating of suppliers for each individual task as well as a feedback
function for customers to rate translation projects
Complaint management
Integrated complaint management to ensure customer or supplier complaints are tracked in
a centralized platform.


To ensure your next ISO audit is going smoothly, we compiled 5 tips that can help setting up your software in a way that makes the certification process easier than ever:


1) Request Confirmation
The first ISO requirement starts with the initiation of a project, that is with a customers’ request. As soon as a client makes a request for a quote or a project, a request confirmation is needed that the request and the documents were received. It is, of course, possible to actively reach out to your clients via email or phone, but if it’s desired, a request confirmation can be sent out automatically, too. Customizable email and document templates allow for the request confirmation to be sent out automatically as soon as the customer sends out their request from within their own portal, which is especially helpful when it comes to send out automatic confirmations per customer request.


2) Human Resources
If you are ISO-certified yourself, another provision of ISO is that your vendors are too. Now, this requirement is a bit more complex than it sounds: first of all, you want to keep track of whether your vendors are certified at all, and then you also want to know what qualifies them. In Plunet, the answer lies in properties, which are, generally speaking, searchable tags with added values. Based on domains such as the category of staff or different services, properties help you find the resources you are looking for. Whereas the former requirement is documented with a property that shows whether a vendor is qualified at all, the latter requirement specifies what makes them qualified, e.g., it could be that they have a formal higher education or that they have 5 years of documented professional experience. For this, a property called “Freelancer Qualification” can be created, and all the different qualification types can be added as a value. Now, these properties are searchable criteria so that everyone who is tagged with an ISO certification and the necessary education will be shown whenever you are looking for them.
The qualifications can then be documented in the resource profile, where a custom folder for ISO qualifications can be created. Here, all of the documents, from a university diploma and a resume to other certificates, can be stored and shown to the auditioner, who will appreciate the nicely documented effort.
However, since the qualification is likely restricted to a specific language combination, the ISO certification is, of course, only valid for this particular language combination. These can be added to the vendors translation price list, and if you’re looking for a vendor with that specific language combination, they will be suggested for your project.


3) Building ISO- Certified Workflows
Now that it is clear which vendors are ISO certified for certain language combinations, another important standard are ISO-certified workflows. What the auditioner wants to see here are workflows that follow the standard by a) only engaging ISO-certified resources and b), that the four-eye principle is applied.
The latter refers to the necessary translation review that can be pre-defined as a second step after a translation job. Whether it be an editing, a review, or a proofreading job, Plunet allows to customize a job in accordance with ISO. Now, each time a new project is created, Plunet will not only remind you to select the right resources for your jobs but that you follow your own guidelines that you defined as your preferred “fourth eye.” As long as the requirements aren’t met, a little sign will not only warn you that requirements are missing, but it will also tell you which action needs to be taken.


4) Automate your Feedback
Now that the projects have been delivered, it’s time for some constructive feedback. If you want to improve your services, the QualityManager will help you to achieve exactly that by keeping track of your customers’ and vendors’ feedback and automating and documenting the whole process of feedback management.
But let’s start at the end: as soon as the translator has finished their job and uploaded their file into Plunet, the editor can not only start to work on their reviewing job, but they can also give feedback on the translation from within their own portal. Here, they can rate the translation based on customizable criteria, e.g., grammar correctness, deadlines, or a translators’ expertise. If the reviewer would like to address something on their own, they can also leave their feedback in a text field. After getting logged automatically, the PM will be notified about the impending feedback via email and can either forward it to their translator, or they can give their vendors the right to see the feedback in their own vendor portal directly.
Getting the feedback reviewed by a project or an in-house quality manager is, of course, possible, too, as is the option to request customer feedback automatically. As soon as a project is delivered, Plunet creates an email with a link that directly leads customers to a rating page. Here, they can assess the received translation, if desired. In case that the customers don’t use their own customer portal, there’s always the option to send out a manual email or ask for feedback on the phone. Regardless of how the feedback is received, it needs to be documented and ready for the auditors at any given time. For this, the QualityManager offers a feasible solution not only by automating the whole feedback process, but also by documenting it in a structured manner.


5) Complaint Management
Braving complaints might not be on the sunniest side of quality management, but if you are looking for a chance to refine your services, you will like the opportunity to consider your complaints. With order complaint functionalities for clients and job complaint functionalities for internal complaints as well as vendor complaints, the QualityManager makes it easy to log each type of objection. Whether you log it in yourself after collecting it or by giving your clients the option to log their discomfort themselves, it will be documented in Plunet.
Thanks to customizable text fields, you can think of your own measures that you want to undertake in order to react to the criticism. A meeting with the customer to solve the issue or with the vendor to discuss a certain topic, whatever it is that you see fit as a measure, you can set it up in Plunet and react accordingly. Being able to link complaints not only from the clients’ but also from the vendors’ side to a project additionally allows to compare each view to get a good picture of the situation.
If these steps are followed, the next ISO audit will become a minor undertaking because Plunet has
thought through each individual ISO requirement from start to finish: from the automatic request confirmation that is sent to the customer over the ability to keep track of certified vendors and create ISO compliant workflows, up to the feedback and complaint management, the QualityManager manages to implement all steps effortlessly. The elegant solutions throughout the project are straightforward, customizable, and easy to incorporate in your daily work as a project manager. This intuitive approach will not only help to comply with ISO, but most importantly, it will improve the quality of your translations in a way that has never been easier.

If you like to learn more, please visit www.plunet.com and request a video or live demo of our software and quality management features.

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