Quality Assurance Vs. Quality Control (With Differences)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Quality assurance and quality control processes are essential to maintain high-quality standards and ensure compliance with industry regulations. Businesses use both these techniques to ensure they make products or services of superior quality. Learning about quality assurance and quality control can help you understand why they are essential for companies to build customer trust and maximise profits. In this article, we discuss the differences and similarities between quality assurance vs quality control and review some tips to perform quality assurance.

Definition of quality assurance vs quality control

You can understand the differences between quality assurance vs quality control by viewing their definitions and objectives:

Quality assurance

Quality assurance is a proactive process to ensure that a business provides the best quality product or service to its customers. These are a set of preventive activities to maintain the safety and quality of a product. In addition to manufacturing facilities, quality assurance is essential in technology, healthcare, media, retail, finance and other industries.

Businesses can implement quality assurance measures internally and usually have more liberty to design the process. These are generally standard checks and activities that give the company's leadership confidence about the quality of a product, or service. The goal is to ensure that the production of goods and services takes place without defects and complies with the established safety and quality standards.

Related: What Is Quality Assurance? (Plus QA Job Descriptions)

Quality control

Quality control is a reactive process to ensure that a product or service meets the set quality standards. It includes a set of strategies and activities that help maintain the quality of software products or services and identify defects. The main goal of the quality control process is to ensure that the final products or services meet the actual compliance, and operating requirements. This takes place through testing and reviewing the functional and non-functional requirements of the product or service through different stages of the production process.

Quality control primarily relates to the inspection aspect of quality management and verifying that the product, or service deliverables meet the defined quality standards. Companies conduct quality control at each step of the manufacturing process by testing the raw materials, samples for the manufacturing line and the finished product, or service. Organisations generally implement quality control techniques after the quality assurance steps or they can occur simultaneously.

Related: What Is Quality Control? A Complete Guide

What are the differences between quality assurance vs quality control?

Here are some prominent differences between quality assurance and quality control:

  • Purpose: Quality assurance helps in preventing defects and mistakes in the production of goods or services. The primary purpose of quality control is to identify defects and fix them, and it usually takes place after the process of quality assurance.

  • Timeline: Quality assurance techniques prevent defects and are proactive measures, while quality control ensures corrective action and is a reactive measure. Quality assurance monitors the execution of the production process, while quality control supervises the quality of the product or service.

  • Focus: Quality assurance is process-oriented and ensures that the production activities take place as per the set procedure and protocol. Quality control is mainly product or service-oriented and helps inspect them during and at the end of the production process to ensure that they meet all requirements of quality management.

  • Stakeholder: Quality assurance manages quality by defining internal processes, strategies and policies and establishing standards to follow. Quality control measures can follow fixed testing guidelines that the industry or government may set to give the customer confidence in the product, or service quality.

  • Responsibility: Quality assurance is generally the responsibility of all the individuals involved in developing the product or service, and the entire team may get quality assurance training. Quality control is typically the responsibility of a particular unit within the business or a third party that tests the product, or service process for defects.

Related: What Is Material Management: Definition And Primary Objectives

What are the similarities between quality assurance and quality control?

Here is how both quality assurance and quality control strategies are similar to each other:

Objective

Quality assurance and quality control are both integral parts of quality management processes and share the same goals. Companies use both these processes to maintain the quality standards of products and services. Businesses cannot test for the quality of a product or service, and even output cannot be tested by them through a focus on only one of these processes. Thus, it is vital to deploy both simultaneously.

Operational impact

Quality control and quality assurance impact all aspects of operations in an organisation. Quality assurance is an ongoing process during the product or service design and manufacturing stage. Quality control is a usually shorter activity done between and during the final stages of product or service development. Both influence the operations and manufacturing continuously.

Customer satisfaction

Eventually, the focus of both quality assurance and quality control is customer satisfaction and confidence in the company's products, or services. Customers want a quality product or service, and manufacturers also want to produce products with verifiable quality standards. Both quality assurance and quality control help improve the manufacturing processes to provide the best quality products or services to customers. Quality assurance and control certifications help improve customer trust in the business.

Related: What Does A Quality Manager Do? Skills And Responsibilities

Tips to implement quality assurance measures

Follow these tips to improve the implementation of quality assurance strategies:

Set organisational goals

Develop organisational goals, educate employees about them and explain why it is essential for the company to maintain quality. It is vital for the team to learn about the company's vision and goal so that they can fulfil their roles. Ensure all new employees receive adequate training about the company's values. Help employees understand how they can help achieve organisational goals by maintaining the quality of products and services.

Identify internal and external customers

Recognising key customers and stakeholders can help in implementing the quality assurance system effectively. Knowing key clients and identifying their expectations can help you develop the right policies and services which cater to them. It is important to note that customers can be vendors, suppliers, employees, volunteers or direct customers. Consult them and assess the quality standards that are essential to maintain.

Establish crucial success factors

Identify the critical factors that influence the final quality of the product or service. These can include technical, design, raw material, equipment or other aspects. Create systems to ensure that these primary product or service features, and factors continually maintain high output. Orient the production process to provide maximum supervision and surveillance of these production steps. For example, in the case of a technology company, ensuring the design, functionality and features of their devices can be the biggest priority.

Document quality standards and processes

Create comprehensive documentation about how to maintain quality standards and what processes to follow. This helps establish consistency in different quality assurance processes and creates knowledge resources that everyone in the organisation can refer to for clarity. Keep updating these documents as you encounter new quality challenges and find new solutions.

Use quality management tools

Organisations can use effective management tools to ensure that their production and delivery processes are in-sync with their business goals. The right tools ensure continuous checks on each step of the production process and help optimise it. Different types can include human management, resource optimisation, warehousing, transportation and delivery, and foreign object detection tools.

Collect customer feedback and measure satisfaction

One of the main reasons for implementing a quality assurance process is often to meet the requirements and expectations of the customer. Customer feedback is essential for quality assurance, as it can help in detecting problems and solving them before they escalate into significant production challenges. You can collect customer feedback through surveys, phone, emails and focus group discussions. Consider also encouraging customers to share feedback in exchange for special discounts. Monitoring customer complaints and product returns regularly can also help the quality assurance system identify recurring issues.

Related: Customer Satisfaction: How To Measure And Tips For Improvement

Implement continuous improvement

Organisations can work on continuously improving their production and delivery processes as a part of quality assurance. This can include employee training, leadership development and improvement in production processes, or product quality. Encourage employees and managers to innovate every day and implement continuous improvement in daily operations. Incentivise implementing creative problem-solving and resource optimisation strategies to enhance the quality of the output.

Discuss results and reward successes

Discussing improvements and actions with the team can help employees understand how they directly impact the quality of the output. Rewarding employees who maintain high-quality results can also motivate others in the team. This can help build a culture of prioritising quality and implementing continuous improvement. Doing this regularly can also help the workforce embrace change and develop flexibility. When employees understand how their individual actions can influence the larger company goals, they are more likely to pay attention to the results of the changes they implement.

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