Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control: ​A Detailed Guide To Implement Them

Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control: A Detailed Guide On Their Differences

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We’ve all been in situations where we thought, “Oh no! If I had double-checked, I would have noticed.” How annoying that is! Especially if we have to start the process all over again. In business, failing to check for and correct errors will cost you time and resources, and lead to unhappy customers.

What if you could prevent the production of defective products and ensure consistently high quality across all your products the first time? That is what implementing quality assurance and quality control measures in your business can help you achieve. They’re good for catching errors before they occur and correcting them if they occur before your products get sent out. Know what that does for you? It ensures happy and satisfied customers plus good profit!

Quality assurance (QA) aims to avoid defects in your products and services. Quality control (QC) is the verification of the correctness of your products’ quality. QA and QC are used in tandem to ensure that your products and services meet your customers’ expectations. With these powerful twin techniques applied to your business, you’ll have fewer problems with your production process.

QA and QC are frequently used interchangeably, but there are key differences between these two terms. This article covers what you should know about quality assurance versus quality control.

A free checklist has also been provided to help you fully implement your quality assurance processes and quality control procedures!

Quality Assurance Vs. Quality Control Full Guide – Chapter Index

Chapter 1: What Are Quality Assurance and Quality Control?

Chapter 2: Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control

Chapter 3: QA Processes vs. QC Processes

Chapter 4: QA Roles vs. QC Roles

Chapter 5: QA Approaches vs. QC Approaches

Chapter 6: QA Tools vs. QC Tools

Chapter 7: QA vs. QC Examples in Different Industries

Chapter 8: Benefits of QA and QC

Chapter 9: The Role of SweetProcess in Your Quality Assurance and Quality Control Plans

Conclusion

Chapter 1: What Are Quality Assurance and Quality Control?

What Are Quality Assurance and Quality Control

Quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) are two concepts that fall under quality management. Quality management is the process of monitoring all activities that need to be accomplished to achieve and maintain a desired level of excellence. QA and QC both work together to satisfy the quality expectations of your customers, but they have a different focus.

Quality Assurance

Assurance is the confidence that a company will deliver efficiently and effectively on its product claims. QA is the monitoring of production operations to improve the manufacturing process and prevent defects in the finished product. It focuses on choosing development and testing methods to ensure the production teams are using the right processes at the right time.

QA is a managerial role that assists workers in meeting quality objectives for each product or service given. It is understanding what is required to achieve quality and creating a system to carry out those requirements. QA managers are involved from the beginning of a product’s design.

QA focuses on overseeing the development and testing protocols used in the manufacturing process and is responsible for setting standards to maintain the same level of quality for each product produced.

QA managers work with feedback from the QC operations team. Any defect that is spotted by the QC team will be communicated to the QA department and strategies will be devised to prevent it from reoccurring in the future. Regardless of the QC team’s verification of correctness before delivery, QA teams work with the mindset that no errors should be discovered in the first place if the production processes are optimized. Because it is usually financially prohibitive to check the quality of every piece of work, sampling techniques are commonly used instead which leaves the possibility that some pieces escape review.

Quality assurance covers the necessary grounds for ensuring that quality is achieved in production. The quality assurance processes are detailed and standardized. The many roles of the quality assurance team are to make this realizable.

Quality Control

“Quality control consists of developing, designing, producing, marketing and servicing products, and services with optimum cost-effectiveness and usefulness which customers will purchase with satisfaction.” — Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa

Quality control (QC) is the process of inspecting the quality of products. This is to ascertain that the products reach quality standards. It involves the application of methods or processes that determine whether data collected from examining products meet overall quality goals.

QC is carried out by testing units to determine if the products are within the specifications set for the final product. Workers in QC check products against development and testing standards before they are shown to clients. If a product doesn’t meet standards, this discrepancy is reported back to the QA team. The QA team analyzes the defects, provides feedback to the operational team, and puts processes in place that will prevent the recurrence of the error. QC requires businesses to create an environment in which managerial QA staff and operational employees strive for perfection.

Chapter 2: Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control

Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control

Quality assurance and quality control are terms that are used interchangeably based on their likeness. While they do bear some semblance, they are not the same. They are built on the foundation of quality but their nature is different. The way they differ will be discussed in this chapter.

Proactive vs. Reactive

QA is proactive and QC is reactive. The requirements of the customers are defined by the QA team, and it works to meet these requirements. The QC team monitors the quality of the final product and provides information on what can be improved. An iterative process between QA and QC allows for continuous quality improvement.

The QA process focuses on the prevention of defects through process design. They receive the input from the QC team and improve processes so any “fix” is long-term and errors are not repeated. QA teams don’t want to see any defects at all in the final products and work hard to prevent them from occurring by performing audits and keeping track of quality adherence documentation.

QC teams expect to see defects and correct them when they occur. They let the QA team know what needs to be improved. Hence, QC is reactive. As it deals with the output, it implements corrective measures when standards aren’t met and then reports these deficiencies to the QA team to rectify.

Process vs. Product

QA involves improving the actions or processes used to create the product, while QC is focused on delivering the best resulting product. QC teams identify issues with the products and apply short-term fixes. The problems are reported to the QA team who work on improving the process long-term. QA works to create optimal processes that prevent future errors. QC focuses on identifying and fixing problems right now.

Creation vs. Verification

QA is applied before and during data acquisition. The activities of QA are started in the planning phase before work begins on a product. For QC, work starts after QA is done with defining the processes and the production process has ended. QC deals with the end product and focuses on verifying whether the final product meets all quality standards.

 

Long-term vs. Short-term

QA isn’t a stage in development; it is a continuous effort to implement, enforce, and ensure quality. QA focuses on improving long-term processes. QA is a medium- to long-term process within the product design period and beyond.

In contrast, QC is a much shorter-term activity usually implemented at the final stages when the output is produced. The QC team’s work begins when they have access to the final product and ends when the product is delivered to the customer. QC is focused on delivering the best product possible and can only take place when there is a developed product to test.

QA Goals vs. QC Goals

The goal of QA is to set procedures and processes in place to reduce risk and prevent defects from occurring. The goal of QC is to inspect the quality of final products to check that the work meets the quality standards of the organization.

To reiterate, QA promises to deliver quality and QC makes sure quality is delivered. They have the common goal of achieving quality but how they do this is different. QA comes first to set expectations and QC follows to ensure the expectations are met. The process is iterative to minimize any errors in production. QA is process-oriented and QC is product oriented.

Full Team vs. Dedicated Personnel

The whole product-development team is involved in the QA process. The team ensures that staff has the skills, materials, and information needed to deliver on the promises that are made to customers. They delineate the product requirements, the criteria to meet these requirements, and metrics to measure whether the criteria were met.

QC, on the other hand, works alone when testing products for quality. QC takes the requirements, criteria, and metrics developed by the QA team and checks whether the final products meet these standards. QC requires separate dedicated personnel for each product line.

Quality AssuranceQuality Control
Proactive: QA identifies potential quality problems that may arise and goes on to prevent such problems from occurring in the future.  

Process: QA focuses on the process involved in creating a product to ensure that problems do not arise with a product.  

Creation: QA activities begin in the creation stage of a product  

Long Term: QA is enforced throughout the lifecycle of a product.  

Risk Reduction: The goal of QA is to avoid defects.  

Full Team: The whole workforce is involved in the QA process.
Reactive: QC reacts to errors as they occur, fixes them, and reports the process deficiency to QA.  

Product: QC is focused on the finished product and testing it for problems.  

Verification: QC begins at the end of production and verifies the quality of the final product.  

Short Term: QC only starts after the completion of a product.  

Defect Identification: The goal of QC is to identify defects.  

Dedicated Personnel: A few employees are charged with checking the quality of each product line.

Watch this video to learn more about the differences between QA and QC:

Chapter 3: QA Processes vs. QC Processes

QA Processes vs. QC Processes

The focus, objectives, and approach to quality differ between the QA and QC teams. However, the two teams must work in tandem. If the two teams do not communicate and cooperate, any quality improvements will be short-lived. In this next section, let’s consider the differences in how QA and QC implement their quality measures.

Quality Assurance Processes

The QA processes are the steps the quality assurance team takes to ensure quality in production. These processes are as follows:

Documentation

The quality assurance team documents the processes for manufacturing products. They create reports documenting errors and issues that need correcting. They make recommendations on how problems can and should be corrected to decrease the risk that the same problem happens again.

Audits

The quality assurance team carries out audits in the organization. QA auditing is used to evaluate whether an organization is adhering to the principles and requirements according to specifications, whether within the company or as part of industry sector requirements. For instance, in a company where bread is baked and its customers are particularly happy with the extra softness of the product, an auditing team will carry out evaluations checking if processes are in place to ensure this criterion is met consistently in each production run.

Training

QA teams train workers on the steps to follow to ensure quality is maintained across all levels. Training is provided in manual testing, automation testing, and testing in different environments and production sectors. QA teams are expected to be able to identify and resolve workflow and production issues, ensure that standards and safety regulations are met, document activities, perform quality audits, create training and operating manuals, and make recommendations for improvement.

Monitoring

QA teams monitor the manufacturing process and make sure that quality standards are implemented. They see to it that workers adhere to industry quality and safety standards. QA teams ensure standards for reliability and production performances are maintained.

Quality Control Processes

 

The quality control process takes the following forms:

Inspection

QC teams check for the acceptability of a manufactured product. They inspect products before confirming that they are good to go out. The inspection process involves comparing the qualities of each product with a standard product during manufacturing.

It involves measuring, examining, and testing products, processes, and services against specified requirements to determine conformity. It ensures process controls on the quality of the material.

The inspection process involves:

  1. Separating defective components from non-defective components.
  2. Locating defects in process or raw material.
  3. Preventing further work on spoiled semi-finished products.
  4. Detecting the weak position and the cause of the trouble in the weak position by checking the product design.

Product Sampling

Sampling is the process of selecting a set of elements from a product lot. Since it is costly to do a QC assessment on each product, a product is randomly selected to test its quality. Random sampling is also used since getting data on every single product is not always possible. Overall quality is then determined by how many randomly selected products passed quality tests.

Lab Testing

Lab testing on instruments is done to detect, reduce, and correct deficiencies. Tests are usually run at the beginning of each shift after an instrument is serviced.

Quality Assurance ProcessesQuality Control Processes
Documentation: Documenting processes for manufacturing goods to ensure consistent and reproducible processes are in place.  

Audits: Checking that process to ensure quality standards are being followed.  

Training: Train workers on the steps to follow to make quality goods and verify they meet standards.

Monitoring: Monitor the product manufacturing process.  
Inspection: Inspect products for quality problems.  

Product Sampling: Select random products to check for quality.  

Lab Testing: Testing to detect, reduce, and correct errors.

Chapter 4: QA Roles vs. QC Roles

QA Roles vs. QC Roles

Quality assurance and quality control teams perform different roles in quality management but they must work together. QA teams optimize processes and prevent long-term and repetitive issues. QC teams resolve short-term problems and provide feedback to the QA team.

Quality Assurance Roles

Group Quality Facilitator

This is the person who brings quality ideas to the group. They advocate for the quality program at the group level. They oversee the development of quality assurance standards and company processes.

Quality Assurance Manager

The quality assurance manager helps develop and safeguard quality standards. They assess items in-depth to confirm that they meet company requirements and compliance standards, and that they have no defects. They also make sure products meet customer expectations and demand.

Quality assurance managers ensure that products are safe to use, operate properly, are uniformly produced, and meet all specifications.

Project Manager

The project manager is responsible for the quality of the product and the timely completion of its development. They maintain the balance between the cost of the work, workflow productivity, and product reliability. They determine what problems must be solved and in what priority. The project manager reviews the progress reports on how a project is coming along.

Quality Control Reviewer

A quality control reviewer is a senior person who reviews the milestone submittal before sending it to the client. That is, after passing some production stages and before getting to the final stage, quality control reviewers check that products are meeting the requirements of the customer. They also record quality measurements to track improvements in products.

Quality Control Roles

The following roles are carried out by members of the quality control team. These roles are important in testing and inspecting the final product or service including any raw materials, packaging, in-process materials, and finished products.

Designer

The designer is the document developer. They develop the requirements for the quality standards that are expected in the product output. They are responsible for preparing documentation for the inspection process. The designer creates efficient designs that can be used to design products across all departments.

Checker

The checker is an independent document checker who reviews the designer’s work to see that it meets the required standards. The checker adds and makes corrections to the document. They recommend improvement measures to the production process as well as monitor customer satisfaction levels.

Back Checker

The back checker confirms or denies the checker’s corrections before updating.

Updater

The updater is in charge of updating documents to the agreed revision.

Rechecker

Rechecker is the expert who reviews the software product, identifies the issues, and suggests improvements.

Quality Control Officers

Quality control officers conduct quality assessments of major outgoing products and incoming raw materials. They also study the specifications needed to understand the product requirements.

Their other roles include:

  • Rejecting products that are not up to standards, returning materials, and reporting their findings to the quality assurance team.
  • Training the QA team on areas where they can improve products and services.
  • Conducting product testing and assessments.
  • Recording and reporting issues.
  • Supporting process improvement.
  • Making necessary repairs.
Quality Assurance RolesQuality Control Roles
Group Quality Facilitator: They are in charge of bringing quality ideas to the team.

Quality Assurance Manager: They develop and safeguard quality standards.

Project Manager: They are in charge of the project and review the progress reports on how the project is coming along.

Quality Control Reviewer: They check that production is progressing according to the desires of the customer.
Designer: They create the document for quality requirements.  

Checker: They verify that the designer’s work meets quality standards.

Back Checker: They confirm or deny the checker’s correction.  

Updater: They update the document.  

Rechecker: They review issues with a product.  

Quality Control Officers: They conduct quality tests.

Chapter 5: QA Approaches vs. QC Approaches

QA Approaches vs. QC Approaches

Quality assurance and quality control use several different methods to fulfill quality needs. Organizations choose one or two that meet the quality management needs in their sector or industry and that ensure quality in every area of the organization. QA develops processes and procedures to follow. If these processes are consistently followed, a quality product is likely, though not guaranteed. QC verifies whether the final products meet quality standards.  

Watch this video for more insight:

Quality Assurance Approaches

Some of the popular quality assurance approaches are explained below. These processes help ensure that the product meets the customer’s needs, that quality requirements will be fulfilled, and that the product will be made right every time.

PDCA Cycle

The PDCA cycle (plan, do, check, act) is a method for achieving continuous improvement in your organization. It was developed by Dr. W. Edwards Deming and is also referred to as the Deming cycle. This approach lets you solve problems and implement solutions in a defined way. There are four steps in this method.

Plan: This step involves planning what you want to accomplish by setting your goals and standards. You determine what solutions you’ll use to solve your problems and determine the actions needed to implement changes.

Do: At this step, you test out your solution on a small scale to see if your plan achieves your desired results. Collect data as you put your solution into action.

Check: The next step is to analyze your results to see if there were any successes. If your results were not satisfying, repeat step one. If it was, then you proceed to the final step.

Act: Here, you implement your solution. The cyclical nature of the PDCA cycle means that you’ll continually look for areas of improvement.

Total Quality Management

Total quality management is an approach that seeks to improve quality and performance in a way that will meet or exceed customer expectations. All quality-related functions and processes are combined to achieve quality performance. The principles of TQM are listed below.

  1. Top management creates an environment that creates success.
  2. Employees receive regular training on the methods and concepts of quality.
  3. Any quality improvement practice should focus on improving customer satisfaction.
  4. Quality decisions to be made are drawn from data collected.
  5. Appropriate methodology and tools in identifying, measuring, and responding to issues of non-conformance are used.
  6. Employees work toward continuously improving manufacturing and quality procedures.
  7. Developing a culture of quality is a priority.
  8. Management encourages employees to be proactive in identifying and addressing quality-related problems.

TQM leads to better products manufactured at a lower cost. High-quality information is used to improve processes, reduce waste, and save time which will lead to reduced expenses. This process results in quality products being sold for lower prices. However, a major disadvantage of this method is the level of commitment needed. All levels of management must be on board for the program to be truly successful. A lack of effort from one department affects the other departments.

Defect Management Approach

This approach is used to develop a good product that is based on client requirements. Features that do not correspond to them are considered defects and are avoided during development.

The defect management approach is commonly used in software development. Plans are put in place to prevent defects. Once they are identified, the risk is prioritized, the defect is fixed, and the resolution is reported.

Attribute Approach

This approach is used to measure product performance. These attributes are cross-checked in a product to assess its quality.

  1. Reliability: Measures if the product is reliable enough to sustain in any condition. Product reliability is measured in terms of how well the product works under different environments and conditions.
  2. Maintainability: Different versions of the product should be easy to maintain. It should be cost-effective to make and easy to use.
  3. Usability: This is measuring the product’s ease of use (the user-friendliness of a product).
  4. Correctness: The product should be correct in terms of its functionality.

Benchmarking Approach

Benchmarking is the process of comparing and measuring an organization’s operations or its internal process against those of a top performer inside or outside its industry.

Process benchmarking is a systematic and continuous improvement process where measurements and comparisons are done to gain information that can help an organization take action to improve performance. It is a way of identifying processes that require major change. It is done between consenting companies that may or may not be competitors. The goal of benchmarking is to find secrets of success and adapt to improve your processes.

In quality assurance, benchmarking is carried out to learn what areas of quality other performing industries are focused on and how they go about it. Then your organization can key into that process to meet standards.

Failure Testing

Products may fail unexpectedly for any number of reasons but by using failure testing, whatever made the product fail can be recognized while investigating the root cause. Failure testing determines a system’s reliability and how each component of a system will react when the modules it depends on are not available.

Failure testing does these as well:

  • Documents failure points and their effect on the system.
  • Documents standard operating procedures for monitoring and troubleshooting production issues.
  • Determines whether or not the system behaves as designed.
  • Identifies acceptable user experiences when system components fail.

There are a few problems associated with this particular method. The test environments can vary and give misleading results and there are some unexpected situations where a product can fail but that scenario is not tested.

Statistical Process Control

Statistical process control (SPC) is a method that makes use of statistical methods to monitor and control a process. It ensures that a process operates efficiently and produces products with less waste or rework. SPC emphasizes early detection and correction of problems after they have occurred. The application of SPC involves three phases: understanding the process and specification limits, eliminating assignable sources of variation to make the process stable, and finally, monitoring the ongoing production process.

SPC is a time-consuming approach as it requires more observations by operators who have added responsibility of monitoring the process line and filling out charts.

Quality Assurance Planning

After determining which quality assurance approaches your organization will take, the next step is writing a quality assurance plan. A quality assurance plan is a document that provides guidelines to produce products or services that meet customer requirements and expectations. A quality assurance plan is needed to define the criteria and processes that will ensure and verify that data meet specific data quality objectives throughout the data lifecycle.

To set up your quality assurance procedure, follow these steps:

  • Design your plan: Your plan should identify the standards, tools, and outcomes needed to produce quality products and services. Your plan should align with the goals of your organization.
  • Recruit team members: Write clear job descriptions that show the characteristics of the job. Define clearly the skills and experience required.
  • Document process: Treat your documentation seriously so you get correct and appropriate data to effect changes when necessary.
  • Monitor progress: You should regularly conduct surveys to get input on experiences.

Quality Control Approaches

Quality Control Approaches

As with the QA approaches, various approaches are available for quality control. Depending on how much time you have to devote to QC and how many resources are available, nearly all of the methods can be used in checking the quality of a product.

QC Charts

Control charts are used to analyze performance trends of processes over time. It is an important tool to determine if you need to make any fundamental changes to the production process and avoid specific problems.

Taguchi Method

This is a QC method that emphasizes the roles of research and development in product design and development in reducing the occurrence of defects and failures in manufactured goods.

This method was developed by the Japanese engineer and statistician Genichi Taguchi. It aims to eliminate variations in production before they can occur. The focus is on design and development to create efficient and reliable products. Design is more important than the manufacturing process in this method. It strives to reduce the cost to society to use the product by designing it more efficiently.

100% Inspection Method

In this method, everything is tested or inspected against predetermined tolerances of defined features. This method is commonly used to evaluate valuable goods, such as gold and silver, or goods that are likely to spoil or develop faults during the production process.

With this method, 100% inspection is said to be 80% effective because not every single product will be inspected. For extremely delicate products, 100% physical inspection could do more harm than good. For example, fruit could get bruised or the product damaged.

Data Quality Assessment and Review

This approach checks the suitability of data to serve its intended purpose. It involves performing data quality assessments to determine the degree to which your data adequately supports the business needs for product quality. It is done by measuring particular features of the data to see if they meet defined standards.

Metrics for Measuring Data Quality

These are the metrics used in measuring data quality.

  • Competence: Verifies whether all required information is present in the data set.
  • Validity: Checks if data matches the rules specified for it.
  • Timeliness: Determines whether the information is up to date for the intended use.
  • Consistency: Checks if representations of an item across data stores match.

Recommended Practices

Also called best practices, these are a set of guidelines and ethical practices that represent the most efficient course of action in a given business situation. They are set up by authorities like the ISO 9000, governing bodies, or a company’s management team. They serve as a road map for a company on how to do business and provide the best ways to deal with problems that arise. They also serve as a general framework in a variety of situations.

The ISO is an internationally recognized set of rules, policies, processes, and procedures to provide products and services that satisfy the customer. It plays an important role in facilitating world trade as it provides a common standard for countries. ISO ensures that products and services are safe, reliable, and of good quality.

Kaizen is another example of a recommended practice. It is a Japanese management philosophy used for improving productivity in a methodical manner. Kaizen recommends the involvement of all the employees in order to improve operations continuously.

Just in time (JIT) is yet another best practice used to focus inventory by aligning the raw materials ordered from suppliers to the schedule of the producer. The goal of JIT is to optimize efficiency and reduce waste.

Steps for Developing Recommended Practices

Follow these steps to develop your best practices.

Research: Find out what companies in your industry are doing about best practices in areas like customer service, hiring, production, and other important business areas.

Share Your Findings: Communicate your findings to necessary individuals in your company. Get everyone on the same page.

Define Your Metrics: After determining your best practices, make them measurable so you can monitor progress as they are being implemented.

Manage Change: Develop a strategy to manage changes in your organization. Employees may resist changes so be ready for that.

Modify and Customize for Your Business: Work on the best practices you plan to implement so they meet your business goals.

Involve Everyone: Ensure that everyone in your organization is aware of the best practices you have selected and are fully incorporating them into their daily routine.

Align Your Business and Customer Needs: Get help from other businesses and customers for input on how to better implement your best practices.

Evaluate and Refine: Continue evaluating and looking for areas to improve your organization.

The various approaches to QC are all effective in achieving your organization’s quality goals. Simply pick a method or two that fits what your organization needs and develop a quality control plan.

Quality Control Plan

A quality control plan is a document that provides processes and defines milestones in production where products or services are inspected to ensure they are meeting specifications.

To set up your quality control plan, follow these steps.

Build a Dedicated Quality Team

Before creating a team, consider the employee’s knowledge of your specific product or service along with their prior experience in the same industry before they joined your company. Define the job tasks. Your job descriptions should also set expectations about the roles of your team members.

Define Your Performance Goal

Have a quality goal to help you determine if you’re getting your desired results. Quality teams must consider the current performance of their product and/or service, and then strive to eliminate all of the processes, steps, and obstacles that do not contribute to the achievement of said goal. Each department of your business will have different quality control standards. These standards have to be objectively measurable.

Choose the Best Method

Consider the QC method(s) that will be best for your organization. The cost of a method and the needs of your organization will influence your choice.

Review Industry Standards

Research common quality standards for the item or service you’re creating the QC process to monitor. Understand customer expectations and know the quality levels competitors have to offer.

Choose the Most Important Measures

Choose the elements customers are more interested in. Begin by focusing on the most important measures, those that have the biggest effect on your profits and your customer’s experience.

Set Detailed Expectations

Explain each quality standard so employees can work together to achieve quality goals and implement QC processes. Develop a document that everyone can have access to if they have questions.

Align Processes with Outcomes

Determine what protocols result in the best quality outcomes that consistently meet your standards. Write them down as company procedures. Test different operational methods to find the best practices for each aspect of quality control. See which techniques produce the best quality in the most efficient manner.

Develop Training Materials

Prepare detailed training materials so that an incoming staff member understands quality expectations. Have onboarding documents that explain your process. Describe the steps in the quality control process and explain what to do when a product doesn’t meet the standards.

Review and Document

Collect and analyze information about quality standards. This provides you with insight into the effectiveness of your QC process plan. Adjust workflows and give feedback to your staff. Your procedure should be flexible enough to adapt to changes in scope, constraints, and assumptions.

Gather and Apply Feedback

Get feedback from customers and staff about how to improve product quality. Analyze results to identify problems and remedy issues as they occur. How well are the operational processes working to deliver quality? How could they be improved?

Chapter 6: QA Tools vs. QC Tools

QA Tools vs. QC Tools

QA and QC tools are tools developed by quality gurus like Philip Crosby, Edwards Deming, and Kaoru Ishikawa. These tools are effective and efficient in helping organizations understand their process, products, and systems. They also help provide a means of improving products, processes, and systems. QA tools are designed and used to enhance the processes involved in production. They make the attainment of quality more sustainable. QC tools are used to identify and correct defects. 

Quality Assurance Tools

Quality assurance tools are used to help monitor and manage your quality initiatives. These tools may be used individually or together as part of a comprehensive quality assurance plan.

Quality Audits

Quality audits are a systematic, independent, and documented review and evaluation of an organization’s quality management system. It is done to determine whether quality activities and results comply with the arrangement that is needed to achieve the objectives. It is carried out by either an internal or external quality auditor at specific periods. They ensure that an organization has a clear system for monitoring quality.

Audits are used to:

  1. Determine the conformity or nonconformity of the quality system.
  2. Verify objective evidence of processes.
  3. Provide evidence for the reduction and elimination of problem areas.
  4. Make sure products are fit for use and safe for consumers.
  5. Check that the quality policies of organizations meet quality standards.
  6. Take corrective action for deficiencies.
  7. Identify improvement opportunities.

There are three main types of quality audits:

Process Audit

The process audit is concerned with a company’s process. It determines whether they are working within defined limits or not. It measures the adequacy and effectiveness of processes.

Product Audit

Product audits check whether products or services comply with consumer requirements, speculations, and performance standards.

System Audit

The system audit checks that all elements of a management system are effective and appropriate and follow the specified requirements.

Quality assurance audits look at the processes involved in the quality assurance program in an organization. Audits are also performed by QC teams, but these audits look at finished products in a product line.

Process Analysis

Process analysis is an efficient method that allows you to understand every detail of a process. It is the act of reviewing and gaining an understanding of business processes. You review all components of a process like the input, output, procedures, controls, and other factors. Process analysis includes the evaluation of time, cost, capacity, and quality of processes. It involves data collection from the beginning to the end of activities.

The steps involved in process analysis are explained below.

Identify the Process

Identify the process that needs improvement. Think about the goals of your business and the processes that will contribute to meeting these goals. Identifying your most important processes can be done by simply looking for those processes that contribute the most to achieving your organization’s goals and add the most value.

Establish the Team

Set up your team. The best people to work on a process analysis team are those who work on the process daily. They know the steps, information, goals, and flaws of your processes and can contribute meaningful ideas for improvement.

Create a Business Process Diagram

Draw your process map. Define those who are responsible for each process. Include a process initiator event—that is, at what point production starts. Define a task and its relationship with others. Signal the end of a process. Use standard symbols and tools to represent the process in a clear and practical way.

Define the As-Is Process

Define how a process happens. Interview those involved to get the scope of a process. Analyze the process model that is the purpose of the process. Document your findings.

Specify Improvement Points

Identify the areas you want to see improvements in and work on them.

Model the Process You’re Aiming For

Your new processes should be aligned with the company’s goals and objectives. It should achieve the company’s quality goals more efficiently and effectively.

Processes will be tested when the QC team checks the output. If defects are found in the products the QC team will report their findings to the QA team and the processes will be reviewed and revised.

Quality Control Tools

The quality control tools are seven tools used to evaluate how well final products meet the quality control standards set by the organization.

The following video sheds more light on quality control tools:

Scatter Diagram

The scatter diagram is used to show the relationship between two variables by plotting corresponding data. It helps in understanding whether or not two variables are related to one another. With dependent Y-axis values on the diagram and independent X-axis values, each dot represents a typical point of intersection. These dots will illustrate the relation between the two variables when joined.

Control Charts

A control chart is a graphical compilation of the performance of a process in the current state with predetermined standards. It is a graphic depicting whether sampled products or processes meet their intended specifications.

The chart shows the degree to which variation occurs from specifications. Randomly selected products are tested for the given attribute being tracked by the chart. Issues can be traced easily by comparing the location on the chart for error control.

An X-bar chart is a common form of the quality control chart. The Y-axis shows the degree to which the variance of the tested attribute is acceptable. The X-axis tracks the samples tested. By analyzing patterns of variation, one can know if defects are happening randomly or systematically.

Histogram

The histogram is a graph used to display the frequency of distribution for elements of data like temperature, weight, and dimension in a process. It shows the amount of variation along with the range of variation within a process. In a bar graph-like structure, each bar within a histogram represents a group, while the bar height represents the data frequency within that group.

Checklist

A checklist percent, also called a check sheet, summarizes occurrences of specific events through counting. Tables are used to arrange data by type. The check sheet is used to check if jobs are completed without problems and also to prevent mistakes from happening. A check sheet collects data in the form of check marks or checklist marks showing how many times a given feature has happened, helping you to easily key in on faults or failures within the procedure or product, trends of responsibilities, and even cause defects.

Flow Charts

Flow charts are used to help employees and organizations understand the finite details of a process and obtain a thorough description of the process it is being applied to. Also called the process map, it is a diagram of the flow of production or service processes through a system.

Pareto Diagrams

A Pareto diagram is used to place issues and flaws into categories based on the characteristics you’ve established. By placing problems and defects by type and in order of quantity, you get the cumulative total. You can easily identify where the problem is.

The Pareto diagram was named after the founder Vilfredo Pareto who observed that a small percentage of a group will usually have the largest impact. This is related to the 80/20 rule. This means that 80% of the problems in a process or procedure are caused by 20% of major factors in each process. So, 80% of small factors are driving the remaining 20% of the problems.

Cause and Effect Analyses

This is a method of linking and organizing factors that affect an issue that is being investigated. The goal of the cause and effect analysis is to identify all of the possible causes of an effect and investigate further to discover the root causes. You ask why five times to get to the root of problems. The causes and sub-causes of a cause-and-effect diagram are generally divided into six major categories, including dimensions, components, people, climate, processes, and devices.

Chapter 7: QA vs. QC Examples in Different Industries

QA vs. QC Examples in Different Industries

Quality assurance and quality control processes and procedures can both be applied in almost any industry. They are not limited to the examples given in this article. So long as your aim is to have and meet high-quality standards in your work environment, you can use these principles.

 

Example in the Food Industry

QA is used in the food industry to prevent defects by concentrating on the process used to make a food product. QC teams in the food industry check the final food product to ensure it meets quality standards. For the QA team in a food manufacturing company, their activities may include:

  • Ingredients specifications to ensure that good materials are being used in production. A document will be kept containing clear information on the ingredients/raw materials to be used in food production to maintain consistency. The team verifies that suppliers are reliable and conscious of their quality requirements.
  • Production documentation is developed to show exactly what processes are involved in making the product. This will include the recipe, cooking methods, how long the product can be stored, and expiration dates. Strict protocols will be followed to verify that no health hazard is posed to the consumer. Regulations will be put in place to minimize the potential contamination of food products by those working with them.
  • Regular checks are scheduled to ascertain whether the production process is following and meeting specifications or not. Things such as product weight, temperature, size and shape of the finished product, and ingredient usage are taken note of.
  • Storage standards for production tools will be stated to avoid compromised quality through contaminated equipment.
  • The process does not end with producing the final product. QA processes are also developed for the delivery process so that goods are delivered to consumers in favorable conditions.
  • The QA teams will then use customer feedback to improve quality.

The QC team enters the quality process after production is completed. They inspect and test the products for flaws and inconsistencies. If standards are not met, they inform the QA team. The QA team makes corrections in the processes to prevent future defects. This iterative process can be repeated until the desired result is achieved.

Example in the Health Care Industry

The healthcare industry requires high standards for the care of patients and healthcare workers. It may fail patients if systems are not in place to keep medical offices and hospitals running smoothly. The quality assurance team takes steps to ensure a safe healthcare environment for workers and patients by:

  • Ensuring only well-trained persons are employed.
  • Requiring frequent cleaning and sterilization of equipment and rooms to maintain a hygienic environment.
  • Double-checking all test results.
  • Keeping all areas free of hazards.
  • Spot checking equipment use to ensure compliance with industry standards.
  • Training employees on how to handle the equipment.
  • Providing acceptable alternatives for when equipment breaks down.

The QC teams run periodic checks on equipment, check employee knowledge, verify that the cleaning teams are cleaning to industry standards, and check that the materials used in the medical office meet industry standards.

The QA team sets the standards and puts processes in place to ensure the office meets these standards. The QA runs tests to verify that these standards are met by everyone on a daily basis.

Example in Software Development

Quality assurance teams will help your software development team build a good software system. The team will do the following:

  • Consider if the functions of the software are appropriate and have been implemented correctly according to customer requirements.
  • Develop standards to check whether the software performs under specific conditions.
  • Develops processes to check if users can understand how the software functions.
  • Ensure that employees use good coding practices to develop the software.
  • Write processes that ensure the system is easy to install and maintain.
  • Create strong security requirements for the software.

Quality control carries out software testing and gives input to the QA team to improve the final deliverable.

Chapter 8: Benefits of QA and QC

Benefits of QA and QC

QA and QC are essential for improving your business’s operations and enabling it to meet the requirements of customers. Having both helps you realize the following important benefits.

Minimal Customer Complaints

The QA process makes sure that the quality of your products is uniform. Your QC team ensures that any defect discovered will not get to your customer. As a result of this, your customers will have no room to complain about the quality of your product since quality is maintained.

Reduced Costs

Employing QA and QC methods in your organization will ensure that you have little costs to attend to after production since the goal is for quality to be maintained throughout the production process resulting in as few errors as possible. You don’t want to spend time and money repairing defective goods, reworking poor-performing goods, or dealing with unsatisfied customers. QA develops processes that are meaningful for the development of a product. QC improves a product and shares the idea of improvement with the QA team. These checks make the production process more effective. Having these steps in place improves your reputation in the business world.

Improved Performance

QA and QC greatly improve the performance of your organization by making sure that your processes are working as they’re supposed to and ensuring that your employees are following your quality recommendations and meeting your standards. Overall performance in your organization is sure to improve. QA teams equip your workers with the knowledge they need to perform their duties. QC teams provide feedback to workers on ways to improve productivity.

Enhanced Motivation

Implementing QA and QC processes encourage a high level of confidence and motivation in your employees. It boosts your employees’ morale to work since processes and procedures are effectively and efficiently documented thanks to QA. They will know just what they’re supposed to do, and getting good results will make them want to continue performing well and making improvements. QC reinforces this attitude by pointing out areas for improvement. A strong QA and QC plan creates a motivated team that not only understands the policy objectives of the quality management plan but also actively participates in executing the plan.

Competitive Advantage

When your company continually delivers goods and services that are of good quality, it creates a competitive edge over other businesses in the same market. This is because customers only want quality products and services and will continue going to the source where they can consistently get what they need. Using any QA approach, your organization can effectively enhance your processes and QC sees that those processes work efficiently.

Prevents Deficiencies

As mentioned before, quality assurance helps prevent deficiencies in your products and services. Even if it doesn’t do this to 100%, having a QA system leads to fewer defects than if you did not have a system in place.

Catches Deficiencies

QC teams catch deficiencies that were missed by the processes developed by the QA teams. Using QA and QC together gives all-around assurance that high-quality products will be consistently produced.

Eliminates Waste

High-quality output eliminates waste. There is little room for waste when your products are always produced according to specifications. Waste comes in when products are lacking and rework has to be done, there is excess production, or some final products have to be thrown out as scrap. QA and QC eliminate such wastes.

Increased Customer Satisfaction

Implementing QC practices helps companies meet consumer demands for better products. It inspires customers to trust the quality of your product. Increased customer satisfaction means more business for you. You are more likely to get good reviews from satisfied customers. They are also more likely to make recommendations, and these positive mentions boost your business profitability. QA processes are developed that consider your customers’ needs, and assures them that you are meeting those needs. QC procedures re-enforce your customers’ quality needs and make sure their standards are met.

Improved Efficiency of Operations

QA and QC lessen rework and after-sale support. Your processes and procedures are made more efficient through the tenets of QA and QC that prevent defects and identify defects respectively. Quality assurance teams carefully document processes that are suitable for production and quality control teams test and verify that standards are met and suggest areas for improvement.

Costs of Not Using QA and QC

What happens in your organization when you don’t have quality procedures in place, or you make use of just QA without QC or only QC without QA?

No Feedback

Having QA and QC teams mean adequate feedback is given to the appropriate production team to maintain quality. But when there is no one to check for quality, record improvements, and identify errors, there’ll be little improvement as it’ll be difficult to tell what is working and what isn’t.

Unsatisfied Customers

QA and QC processes and procedures ensure the quality of the goods that get to your customers. Without QA and QC, attaining the same level of quality will be difficult as you don’t have a system in place to measure what works. Of course, when customers can’t be confident in getting the same quality from you every time, they go somewhere else.

Miscommunication

A situation where there is no adequate channel for communication will breed communication problems. QA and QC processes and procedures establish good channels for communication.

Reduced Productivity

There will be a number of reworks required and complaints filed when goods fail to meet the quality expectations of your customers. This reduces productivity as time is lost and money is spent rectifying mistakes.

The costs of not placing importance on quality management in your organization are just too great for one to not make immediate changes.

You’ll lose customers when they start complaining about the quality of your product or service without seeing any improvement. You’ll spend more time correcting mistakes. Not focusing on QA and QC could very well mean the end of your business. Customers are looking to have a good return for the money they spend buying products from you.

Chapter 9: The Role of SweetProcess in Your Quality Assurance and Quality Control Plans

The Role of SweetProcess in Your Quality Assurance and Quality Control Plans

SweetProcess is a process and procedures documenting software that helps organizations perform effectively and efficiently. QA and QC teams will find this software to be effective in documenting processes and keeping track of activities. See how some organizations have utilized this software and are reaping the benefits.

Adam Radulovic is the CEO of XL.net, an IT company that helps businesses succeed by leveraging technology. They’re responsible for managing the technology needs of businesses. Adam had a problem managing his business processes.

He said, “For probably the last eight or nine years, we’ve been doing a decent job of documenting our processes, procedures which we previously called work instructions, and policies. And over the years, we got to a point where we now have close to 2,500 different processes, procedures, and policies. And the management of them became extremely difficult.”

It was overwhelming. Employees couldn’t easily understand what was working and what wasn’t. With so many processes, it was painful to know that no one was using them. Adam knew they needed an effective workflow management system to streamline their processes. They discovered SweetProcess and it improved their business. Employees had access to the processes they needed and didn’t have to spend time going through so many of them. When talking about how effective SweetProcess was, Adam said, “…We saw a process management system intended for entrepreneurs without daunting time, money, and labor investments to get them operating, and our client loved it.”

As another example, Austin Maxwell, the general manager of Maxwell Counters, was very concerned about his business when he noticed that quality was being affected. His company specializes in the fabrication, installation, and replacement of customized countertops. They prioritize quality and using durable products in their projects.

Sadly, this was becoming hard to achieve as their process documenting system was recorded on paper and Microsoft Word. Austin saw that documents were either inaccessible or out of date, and this seriously affected output.

“It took too long to find things, and then at a point in time when you wanted to update the procedures, you never knew how many copies were flying around and where they were at,” Austin laments.

They could not be as productive as they liked. A good amount of time was spent answering employees’ questions and helping them find documents. Austin says, “The best result has just been consistency, being able to point people toward one website and make sure that they know that’s where they need to go for questions on anything.” SweetProcess made it possible for this company to maintain consistency in quality.

Craig Bayer, CEO of Optiable, is another happy user of SweetProcess. Optiable is a company that helps law firms leverage technology in streamlining their workflow by creating a more organized structure for them. He had no option but to micromanage his employees because they lacked a systematic documented process. This affected productivity and performance.

Using SweetProcess has made his employees more efficient in delivering their work. They’re able to accomplish more with less time. Quality products in less time equal greater profit and customer satisfaction. Let SweetProcess help you document your QA processes and QC procedures.

Here are more reasons why you should sign up for a free trial of SweetProcess. You don’t need to give your credit card information to get started.

SweetProcess:

  • Lets you document and update your processes seamlessly.
  • Guarantees the same quality results over and over.
  • Ensures there’ll be no knowledge gap in your organization.
  • Organizes workflows.
  • Enhances employee efficiency.
  • Automates recurring tasks.
  • Helps you create, share, and ensure the correct adoption of your business’s policies.
  • Helps you track activities.
  • Allows you to add files, images, and videos to explain tasks.
  • Makes it easy to use and is available offline for both Desktops, Android and iOS.

Conclusion

Quality assurance and quality control are important parts of a quality management system. They are similar but have a distinct focus. While QA focuses on processes, QC focuses on products. While QA is concerned with preventing defects, QC is concerned with identifying defects. One thing is clear: by using both of them and not one, quality will not be found wanting in your organization. The benefits your organization gets from this will be all around. Sign up for a free trial of SweetProcess to get help with your documentation processes. Remember to download our free checklist for a step-by-step guide on implementing your quality procedures.

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