Quality Control and Quality Assurance are both aspects of an organization’s quality management system (QMS), and even though they are closely related concepts, they are different in many ways. Understanding their differences is fundamental for any organization to effectively manage its resources and processes in order to deliver quality products and services.
To start, one of their main differences is that Quality Assurance is a prevention strategy oriented to prevent defects and Quality Control is a detection strategy oriented to detect defects. Here, an explanation of some of their differences is presented.
Focus of Quality Control and Quality Assurance:
- Quality Assurance aims to prevent defects with a focus on the process that produces the product or service; thus it is process oriented.
- Quality Control aims to detect (and correct) defects in the finished product, which makes it product oriented.
Goal of Quality Control and Quality Assurance:
- The goal of Quality Assurance is to develop processes and procedures that will ensure that quality products and services are produced.
- The goal of Quality Control is to check the products and services for defects that may have arisen during their development in order to deliver defect-free products or services to customers.
How Quality Control and Quality Assurance are Conducted:
- Quality Assurance is conducted by establishing and defining standards and methodologies that must be followed during a process to ensure products and services meet customer requirements.
- Quality Control is carried out by conducting tests and inspections to detect errors and flaws in products or services.
When Quality Control and Quality Assurance are Conducted:
- Quality Assurance is a proactive process that takes place before the product or service is produced or delivered.
- Quality Control is a reactive process that is performed during the manufacturing process and after the products are produced.
Despite their differences, Quality Assurance and Quality Control are both players of the same team and it is not possible to guarantee customer satisfaction if either one is missing. Achieving success requires both; if only Quality Assurance is applied, there will be no way of knowing if the procedures and processes are producing the expected outcomes. On the other hand, if only Quality Control is conducted an organization will not have a way of making repeatable and reliable results.
Quality is ensured by an organization performing the right tasks in the right way and by making sure that their efforts have produced the expected results. Quality Assurance and Quality Control complement each other and both these processes provide the necessary information for the continuous improvement of a QMS that meets the requirements of an organization’s customers.
To the novice quality manager, ISO jargon can be extremely overwhelming. What is an NCR? What do you mean by OFI? Are we certified or accredited? But before you go and pull out your hair, let’s take a moment to go over some of the most frequently used terms and their definitions with regards to ISO and Management System Certification.