In the previous instalments of my blog, I advocated the role of process automation for the sake of effort reduction. Now I’d like to address another one of its advantages – standardization.
When submitting a proposal in response to an important Request for Quotation, every extra advantage that can be obtained over the competition is priceless. More often than not, even if not explicitly stated, your competence, credibility and knowledge is initially judged by the amount of certifications that you can produce as opposed to your co-bidders. This reason alone gives rise to the need to attain respective standards certifications; thus proving the consistent quality of your service. Without getting into the fine details of specific certification standards, which due to some certain preferences of local certification bodies always slightly differ from country to country, some elements remain constant – and these shall be addressed below.
To err is human, but if any element which has to be managed manually is audited, a human mistake can make the difference between it being certified or not. Hence as always, I will strongly suggest automating as much as possible.
The auditing team will judge your performance by taking an appropriate sample of your clients and projects and evaluating, among others, the points below:
- The quality control procedures and measures in place used to gauge customer satisfaction. This point is often overlooked, however it is extremely crucial for the certification process. In order to ensure a consistent customer satisfaction monitoring process is in place, every single project has to have a feedback record.
- The process of vendors evaluation – it’s consistency, effectiveness, and keeping traceable records.
- Handling client’s complaints and claims, understood primarily as root cause analysis, as well as performing the appropriate and well-documented corrective and preventive actions.
- The process of project management. This often translates into direct interviews with project managers, however it is your duty to ensure that these interviews will produce consistent answers, ie. the processes in place are strictly defined, enforced and followed by project managers.
- Procedures for the preparation of quotes, enquiry handling and entering into agreements with clients. From the customers’ point of view, consistency doesn’t just involve the result of your work, but also the whole process surrounding it.
- Procedures for releasing, archiving and tracing of translation projects. This relates directly if your archives are properly maintained, indexed and managed.
We all strive for service excellence, but even when we are able to deliver a consistent quality – proving it during an audit is a completely different story. Most of this comes down to rigorous record-keeping and the ability to prove your strict adherence to established procedures. These two practices are usually extremely time consuming, tedious and prone to various errors, however it is also here where proper automated systems excel. Having a system in place that would enable users to keep the records up-to-date, well organized, traceable, and, most importantly, create them automatically as a “by‑product” of project management is an advantage that can’t be undermined. Naturally, from automation comes repeatability, and repeatability translates directly into standardization.
One final word of advice that I’d like to share here: when adapting automated solutions, using multiple systems for different tasks only adds to the complexity thus adding a whole layer of issues related to the discrepancies between them. Keep it simple by aiming to use as few components in your information ecosystem as possible.