Quality assurance (QA) describes various procedures and activities that occur during product development. In other words, quality assurance is a way to verify that the planned quality requirements will be fulfilled as the product is manufactured or developed.
- Design and prototyping.
- Version control.
- Configuration management.
- Customer acceptance and feedback.
- Specification compliance.
- Low percentage rate of defects, and
- Shipping that results in delivery without damage to products or packaging.
What is quality control?
Quality control (QC) is the inspection phase of quality assurance where the product is tested to ensure it is effective and safe to use.
Examples of QC include:
- Identification of product blemishes or errors.
- Conformance with industry standards and regulations.
- Identification of bugs to be fixed in the next iteration or before product release.
- Acceptance sampling or quality control charts.
- Statistical process control methods such as SPC manufacturing.
- Total Quality Management (TQM), and
- Lean manufacturing.
The key differences between quality assurance and quality control
While quality assurance and quality control are both aspects of quality management, their focus and how they approach quality itself are fundamentally different.
To understand these differences, it can be helpful to understand how both contribute to an organization’s quality improvement endeavors.
Here are some of the main differences between QA and QC.
Proactive vs. reactive
- Quality assurance is proactive. It seeks to prevent errors and defects before they occur. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) based on ISO 9000 standards ensure that a safe and effective product is produced every time such processes are followed.
- Quality control is reactive. It tests for efficacy and safety and seeks to identify errors and defects after the product has been produced.
System vs. parts
- Quality assurance utilizes control systems comprised of methods and procedures to protect quality standards. For example, a QA system may dictate that inputs such as auditing and raw material batch sampling are consistently safe and effective.
- Quality control measures parts (and the outputs) of the system. They may also be used to measure parts involved in creating the final product such as raw materials from a supplier.
Process vs. product
- Quality assurance prevents quality problems and is thus process and action-oriented. Processes include documentation, audits, employee training, and change control.
- Quality control tests for quality problems and is thus product and customer-oriented. Procedures include batch inspection, lab testing, software testing, and validation testing.
Entire team vs. dedicated personnel
- Quality assurance activities concern the entire team because they cover all aspects of product development. Whilst quality management systems are the domain of the leadership and quality team, the activities themselves stipulate training, review, and documentation standards for the broader workforce.
- Quality control is more limited in scope and as a result, is the domain of certain, specialized staff within the organization. These individuals follow SOPs for quality control and documentation that are based on standardized testing and process validation procedures.
- Quality assurance (QA) describes various procedures and activities that occur during product development. Quality control (QC) is the inspection phase of quality assurance where the product is tested to ensure it is effective and safe to use.
- While quality assurance and quality control are both aspects of quality management, their focus and how they approach quality itself are fundamentally different.
- Some of the key differences between QA and QC include proactivity vs. reactivity, system vs. parts, process vs. product, and entire team vs. dedicated personnel.
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