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Quality of products and services delivered by organizations are of paramount importance. Customer satisfaction is central to businesses. Customers expect defect free quality products and value for money. Hence organizations are putting maximum importance on quality management. Quality control and quality assurance are two most important functions of modern quality management. These two terms are often used interchangeably. Although similar, there are distinct differences between the two concepts. This article will explain the differences between quality control and quality assurance.
Modern quality management uses processes and standards for creating products. Processes provide a standard way of producing deliverables, which in turn ensures standardised and well predicted outputs. Total quality management is the new philosophy applied for quality management.
Doing the right things in the right way provides assurance. Quality assurance can be defined as "an important part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled." Assurance is given upfront to all stakeholders. The confidence provided by quality assurance is twofold – internally to management and externally to customers, government agencies, regulators, certifiers, and third parties. Another definition of quality assurance is "all the planned and systematic activities implemented within the quality system that can be demonstrated to provide confidence that a product or service will fulfil requirements for quality."
In simpler words, quality assurance means using standard processes for creating and delivering the expected product or service. It is a well-defined and proven way of creating a product or service.
Hence strict process compliance is central to quality assurance. Whatever set of processes and activities are identified for creating the deliverables, must be adhered to by the team. Process compliance ensures the team will create the right product.
Regular quality audits are conducted for checking process compliance by the team. Quality assurance is proactive and an on-going activity. QA focuses on preventing defects.
Quality control can be defined as "another important part of quality management focused on fulfilling quality requirements." While quality assurance relates to how a process is performed or how a product is made, quality control is more about the inspection aspect of quality management. Another definition of quality control is "the operational techniques and activities focused on monitoring the final results obtained from quality assurance."
Inspection is the key function performed as part of quality control. Inspection is the process of measuring, examining, and testing to verify one or more characteristics of a product or service and the comparison of these with specified requirements to determine conformity. Products, processes, and various other results can be inspected to make sure that the object coming off a production line, or the service being provided, is correct and meets specifications.
Quality control activities are carried when certain product or results are created by the team. It is also an on-going process throughout the production and development cycle.
QC is reactive and focuses on identifying defects.
Both quality assurance and quality control are two important functions of quality management. QA is focusing on preventing defect while QC is focusing on identifying the defect. Quality assurance is all about adhering to specified processes. Quality assurance provides confidence that the team will create the expected product which fulfils the requirements. Quality control is the follow up activities which are done to verify that the created products actually conform to the specified requirements.
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