A few years before, while I was attending a training course, I met a guy. During our conversation he told me that he was working as a quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) engineer in his company. I asked him about his job responsibilities.
He replied to me that he just walks around and sees whether everything is going on as planned or not. He checks the items for correctness, and if he finds any deviation from the specifications, he will take a corrective action.
I said fine, this takes care of the quality control part of your job, what about quality assurance? I again got the same reply.
The point is, a lot of time many professionals who work as a QA/QC engineer do not know the job responsibilities of QA and QC title. They do not understand the difference between the responsibilities of quality assurance functions and quality control functions, although the difference between them is pretty clear.
Anyway, in this blog post I’m going to explain to you these quality management processes, and I hope it will help you understand these terms better.
This is an important concept for you to understand from a PMP exam point of view. You may see a few questions in your exam about this topic.
Please note: there is another process, “very scope”, which is often confused with quality assurance and quality control. Therefore, I have written another blog post on quality control and verify scope to explain it as well.
Visit: Quality Control and Verify Scope.
Okay, let’s get started.
If you search on the Internet, you will find many definitions of “quality”. The most prevalent definition of quality is “fitness to use and conform to requirements”.
So, you can say that quality assurance assures the quality of the product. The quality assurance process makes sure that any process developed to produce a product is such that the product comes out of the process defect free, and conforms to all stated requirements.
Quality assurance is a process based approach whose prime objective is to prevent defects in deliverables in the planning process itself to avoid the rework, which costs a lot.
Quality assurance is a proactive process, and it starts at the very beginning of the project to understand the product’s stated and non-stated requirements and expectations, and then develop the plan to meet these requirements and expectations.
Quality audit is an example of a quality assurance process. Other examples of quality assurance are training, process definition, selection of tools, etc.
If quality assurance is a process based approach, quality control is a product based approach. Quality control is concerned with the operational activities and techniques that are used to fulfill the requirements of quality.
The quality control process includes the activities which ensure a high quality product. These activities focus on identifying defects in the actual product being produced.
Quality control functions start once the project work has begun. Quality control is a reactive approach and helps you find defects in deliverables.
Inspection and product testing are a few examples of quality control tools.
The objective of the quality control process is to make sure that the deliverables are defect free and acceptable as per the quality requirements set in the quality assurance process. If the deliverables are not found as per the requirements, a suitable corrective action will be taken.
Quality assurance and quality control processes are dependent on each other. The quality control process receives input from the quality assurance process, and in turn gives its feedback to the quality assurance process so that the quality assurance could validate the operational process.
For example, if the project team finds any defect during the project execution, they will correct the error and the feedback will be sent to the quality assurance team. The quality assurance people will investigate the cause of this error and they will take a corrective and/or preventive action in the process so that this error should never happen again in the future.
And once the process is updated, the quality control people will follow the process defined by the quality assurance team so that the defect does not recur.
So you see, the quality assurance process takes input from the quality control process, and the quality control process takes input from the quality assurance process.
The Difference between Quality Assurance and Quality Control
The following are a few differences between the quality assurance and quality control processes:
- In quality assurance, you plan to avoid the defect in the first place. On the other hand in quality control, you try to find defects and correct them while making the product.
- Quality assurance is all about prevention, and quality control is all about the detection.
- Quality assurance is a proactive process while quality control is a reactive process.
- Quality assurance is a process based approach while quality control is a product based approach.
- Quality assurance involves processes managing quality, and quality control is used to verify the quality of the product.
- Quality audit is an example of quality assurance. Inspection and testing are examples of the quality control process.
- The goal of the quality assurance process is to develop a process so that defects do not arise when you are producing the product, and quality control identifies the defects after the product is produced but is not yet released or is still in the production phase.
The Benefits of Quality Assurance and Quality Control
Quality assurance and quality control are closely related and their objective is also the same, i.e. to deliver a defect-free product. Quality assurance and quality control are an integral part of a quality management plan.
These two processes complement each other, and failing to apply any of these will result in a failure of quality management on the project.
Following these quality management processes brings immense benefits to your organization. Some benefits are as follows:
- It gives you a high quality output.
- It increases the efficiency of operations.
- It brings customer satisfaction, which affects your brand and helps you grow your business.
- If your product is of good quality, you will not need much rework and there will not be much after-sale support required. This will help you save a lot of money.
- A high level of confidence and a motivated team.
I hope now there will be no doubt in your mind regarding quality assurance and quality control. In fact, these two processes are so interlinked and interdependent that people find it difficult to distinguish them. In some small and medium-sized organizations, both processes are performed by a single person, which again adds to the confusion and causes a lot of chaos and conflict in responsibilities.
Quality assurance and quality control processes are intended to make a product defect-free and ensure it conforms to requirements. The purpose of both processes is the same, however the approach is different. Quality assurance is a process based approach and quality control is a product based approach. Quality assurance designs a process so that the product coming from this process is defect free, while quality control checks the product when you are producing it so that no defected product goes to the market.
Here is where this blog post on the quality assurance and quality control ends. If you have something to share, you can do so through the comments section.