People generally presume that quality assurance and quality control are one and the same. But in reality, these both terms are very much different. Quality control concept was introduced during the period of industrial revolution, whereas the concept of quality assurance made its first appearance when information technology market was in the boom. According to ISO standards, both quality control and quality assurance belong to quality management fraternity and both these methods are incorporated in organizations to support and check the quality requirements.
Quality assurance uses a proactive and generic approach and it does not concentrate on a specific requirement. On the contrary, Quality control concentrates on the specific requirements of the product and ensures that the final product produced is in compliance with the client requirement. Some of these procedures may differ from company to company. In simple words, Quality Assurance concentrates on the quality of the process and Quality Control concentrates on the quality of the final output. In the following paragraphs, we will look into the prospects of each method and how they are beneficial to the company.
What is Quality Assurance?
The main essence of quality assurance is to ensure that correct methods are employed during the creation of the product. Quality Assurance procedures are incorporated at the start of the project, and it focuses on the software specifications as well as standards followed by the company. Quality assurance planning activities include, creation of quality and test plans, identifying suitable defect tracking tools and providing training to the team members selected for particular methods and processes. This will help production team in maintaining the product quality throughout its production process. This methodology is also applicable for organizations in the service sector. Quality assurance procedures provide assistance to the production team in tracking problematic areas and ensure that the product delivered is flawless and is accepted by the quality control team at first instance.
What is Quality Control?
Quality Control is a procedure that ensures the product is produced according to the requirements specified by the client. This process ensures that the product is flawless, and for this many organizations make use of third party tools and applications which are available in the market. According to some experts, Quality control can be termed as a corrective tool, as its primary focus is on product and its prime job is identifying the flaws in the product.
If we look at the role of quality control department in a manufacturing organization, the prime aim of the quality control team is to search for defects in the product. If they find anything that is not in compliance with the production standards or client requirement, they need to report the issue to the quality assurance team. Then it's the job of quality assurance team to check the processes that have been followed by the production team during product development process. Once the faulty process is fixed, then the resultant product produced will again be sent to the quality control team for quality check. If the quality control team still finds defects in the product then the process is repeated until a satisfactory product is produced.
If we look at the service sector, mostly quality control and quality assurance teams remain in the same department. For instance, in the medical laboratory, the quality control team and quality assurance team work in close tandem to provide error free results.
Apart from these techniques, there are various tools and techniques quality control and quality assurance team uses. Some of the popular tools and techniques that are used by these teams are Fishbone diagram, that gives them an overview about the problems, and flow charts and control charts which give them the picture of the processes and procedures workflow.
Some organizations also use Six Sigma methodologies that look after time delays in production cycles and also provide optimum results. Six Sigma methodologies also focus on minimizing the additional cost incurred during the production process and ensure that the customer gets the final product in the way they intended to. In the near future, we can expect more tools and techniques that will optimize the quality of a product, be it in manufacturing or service sectors.