Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Quality Assurance Versus Quality Control

Do you know the difference between quality assurance and quality control? If you don’t, you’re not alone.  For many people the two terms seem synonymous. If you search for these terms on Google, you may become even more confused or frustrated with the results. There is a difference, but you don’t have to be a Six Sigma black belt to understand it.
Simply put, quality assurance is the act of creating, monitoring and maintaining the overall quality system (the marching orders).
Quality control is the act of carrying out those orders during the process of creating the product or deliverable.
In a production facility using an assembly line process, there are different stations and stages of completion. Quality assurance establishes check points for inspection and what the process or procedure for performing that inspection would be. Those in charge of quality control perform the inspections and approve or reject the product based on the written procedure for acceptance. 
Quality assurance in more detail
A quality program lays out how, when and where the product will be checked for compliance. It describes the acceptance criteria for each different type of check, and what steps to take if a nonconformance is found. It references forms and documents to be used in the ongoing monitoring process. It also requires that the program be audited periodically to determine whether it’s functioning as it was designed. Many quality programs require that periodic internal audits be performed by someone within the organization who understands the quality program. Some companies create a product that’s required to be built in a facility certified by an outside third-party agency. This agency will visit the facility on a predetermined schedule and evaluate the quality system to verify the company is following its program and that the product meets the requirements of the standard or jurisdiction it’s being certified to.
Quality control in more detail
Once you’ve established a quality program, you need people to carry out the tasks outlined in the system. These people need to perform the quality checks as written. They’ll need to complete forms and write reports that document nonconformance and follow-up actions.

In summary
Creating, monitoring and maintaining the marching orders is quality assurance. Carrying out the marching orders is quality control.

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