Quality assurance Vs quality control has been a hot topic of discussion for quite some time now and because of the ambiguity associated with both terms, many think that they are both the same. In this topic, let’s understand these terms in detail, their meaning and myths, and how they play an important role in achieving total quality management.
There are various definitions for quality assurance but the gist of all can be summarized as follows – Quality assurance is a promise made by a maker that the product he is making is being made with certain safety and quality standards and the buyer, who is going to buy the product, can be rest assured that the product is met with the same. It is the confidence given by the maker to the buyer that the product he is buying from him is safe and is guaranteed to work for what it is expected of and intended for. Quality assurance is a large subset of the total quality management in a business that tries to focus on preventing a defect in a product that is being made and ensures all the processes, techniques, and methods in achieving that intended quality is followed diligently. The product can be manufactured goods, software, or anything that comes with a price tag or even a service being offered for a price.
If quality assurance is a promise, quality control is making sure that promise is delivered at all costs. Quality control makes sure that all the assurances made on the product are met. Quality control can be defined as the process of identifying a defect in a product by testing the finished product against various criteria set by quality assurance. Quality control is a subset of quality assurance and is usually done after quality assurance. Quality control is done by various means, usually through different tests that determine the quality of the finished product.
Quality Assurance Vs Quality Control
1. Prevention & Identification
To begin with, System control and quality assurance is a process with the main aim to prevent a defective product whereas quality control is a process for identifying a defect in a finished product. While QA is a proactive preventive process action, QC is a reactive result on the product.
QA is designing standard operating procedures for making a product according to various standards set either by a competent authority or the maker himself to ensure quality standards. If a product is failed during a QC test, it reflects poor QA processes and corrective action needs to be taken to improve QA processes.
2. Entire firm Vs Dedicated Team
One of the myths associated with System control and quality assurance is that it is a separate task involving a separate set of people which is not true. Assuring quality in an organization is everyone’s job in that firm, right from the top leaders to the floor operators.
Quality assurance requires the entire organization to follow quality protocols, quality requirements, and standard operating procedures (SOP) in bringing a quality output hence it is the responsibility of everyone involved. On the other hand, quality control lies in the hands of a few dedicated teams to test whether the quality standards are met by the output. So, while quality assurance requires the entire team of an organization, assurance control is the task of dedicated personnel specialized for the job.
3. Maker & Checker
Quality assurance Vs quality control can be viewed as akin to the maker checker concept generally used in banking and financial transactions. In the maker checker concept, the function of the maker is to create or initiate a transaction and the checker’s function is to approve the transaction, after due inspection.
Similarly, in quality assurance, a team of people makes a product following certain operating procedures and statutory guidelines, and the quality control team checks for any lapses and defects in the making and verify the final product against the quality standards promised. The product is cleared for marketing only after the product passes all the QC tests.
4. Process Oriented Vs Product Oriented
Quality assurance is process-oriented mainly focussing on preventing a faulty product output and ensuring a quality output by following stringent procedures in making the product. Quality control is product-oriented in the sense that it involves inspecting a finished product by making it go through some QC tests.
In the software field, ensuring quality is done through QA and QC testing. QA plays a vital role in the software development life cycle and helps in creating products and services that meet the standards and requirements set by the clients or end users. Since QC is a subset of QA, both play a crucial role in delivering the best quality software. In today’s fast-paced agile development environment, where continuous integration, CI, and continuous deployment, CD are the norms of the day, the intended quality is maintained in a software product through QA and some QC testing. Let’s take a look at QA Vs QC testing.
Quality Assurance or Quality Control?
This is another popular myth that when QA takes care of all the processes and procedures involved as per the statutory body or self-imposed standards, what is the need for quality control? Isn’t QA sufficient to achieve total quality management? The answer is a big NO. It is because assurance is just making sure that certain quality guidelines are being followed but it doesn’t guarantee a quality output from following the said procedures. Even though all the procedures are being followed, the end product may not function as intended and can be faulty. In the absence of a check or quality control, these products may end up in the market and may cause severe loss to the consumers who bought them and even worse, may threaten one’s life. Imagine a faulty pacemaker being used by a patient which can result in life-threatening consequences. Another case in point would be automobile manufacturers releasing their new variants without QC checks. We have seen instances where automobile manufacturers recall their newly released automobiles back as they are causing various inconveniences for the users. When quality control is in place which primarily tests the product at the end, it not only ensures the quality of the product but also prevents faulty and sometimes dangerous products from being released into the market. Hence, both QA and QC are important and go hand in hand!
QA Vs QC Testing
Quality assurance in an SDLC is one of the functions of software quality that ensure all the specifications and expectations are met and involves right from the product specifications, design, and development to deployment and maintenance. QA ensures continuous improvement of the project through all the stages of SDLC. QA in SDLC mainly focuses on the implementation of the standards and processes that are being followed throughout the project and is mainly process oriented.
QC testing in SDLC is a process to identify errors, bugs, and defects in the developed software product while ensuring that all the requirements and specifications are met. Testing is a subset of QC and QC is a subset of QA and thus, there is nothing like QA Vs QC testing as all belong to the same branch of quality and assurance control! They help in detecting faulty, inefficient processes and help identify bugs in the finished product ensuring a high-quality end product to the customers/consumers.
System control and quality assurance are the key factors in making a product successful and having good quality and assurance controls in a project ensures a superior and fine product.