Quality Assurance or Quality Control: Difference Explained

No matter how strange it may sound, not all IT specialists of a wide range know the detailed difference between the concepts of Quality Assurance and Quality Control. In general, these two concepts are used interchangeably, however, a detailed understanding of the difference between them can bring significant benefits to organizations in managing and improving their services. Narrow specialists whose work is closely related to testing processes, test scripts, automation of quality processes, must know what each concept is responsible for and what it focuses on.

In this article, we are going to explore the difference between QA and QC in more detail. It will be useful for IT experts, who don’t work with each direction deeply and for companies which want to understand the essence of enhancing the quality of their digital solutions.

Focus and Objective

QA works to prevent defects and errors and ensure smooth implementation of the project with the best quality possible. Essentially, it strives to proactively anticipate and recognize potential problems before they are discovered. The world of high technology has its own standards and generally accepted practices, following which you can get closer to the standard of a high-quality digital product. Experts specializing in QA carry out the necessary actions in accordance with the developed strategy and quality standards in order to maximally protect the product from logs.

In contrast, QC does not work preventively, but at the final stage of development. This reactive approach involves inspection and analysis of testing results at various stages. Experts conduct analyzes and practices that show the result of the product’s performance and compliance with its specified goals and quality standards, also stated from the very beginning. The QC process is aimed at maximum verification of a product or service before meeting with the buyer or target audience.

While both processes are aimed at testing and releasing the highest quality product, the vectors of quality assurance or quality control work within the work of a team of IT specialists are slightly different. The assurance team works on a product throughout the development life cycle, from step-by-step planning until the product hits the market. During this time, many tests, analyzes, development of strategies and preventive measures are carried out.

The QC team enters at the intermediate stages of tests and quality control and fixes in accordance with the initially planned qualitative and quantitative indicators.

Timing

There are significant differences in the timing of the processes we talk about in this article that will help you understand the ultimate goal of both.

QA is a proactive process that is implemented throughout the entire product development cycle. Systematic planning and control activities must be carried out from the very beginning to the very end of the cycle. One of the key aspects of successful assurance is strictly following the initially set plan and timing. This approach allows you not only to work in cooperation with other development processes, but also to be confident in the quality and functionality of the product being tested.

In the context of timing, timely assurance determines the success of the entire project. In this case, a whole team is involved in the process: one team develops a strategy and sets time-based deadlines, others distribute resources, others work directly on testing, etc. With a well-developed timing plan, testers don’t have to worry about not having time to fix a problem or a bug.

On the other hand, the quality control happens almost at the launch stage, where it is necessary to complete the final round of checking the product, to see whether uncorrected errors have been missed, whether all development features have been taken into account, and whether all functions are working properly. This process significantly reduces the likelihood of an inferior product being released into the market, customer complaints, and product dissatisfaction. The QC will also ensure that there are no delays in the planned development and launch phases, which obviously could negatively impact the product release.

Responsibility

The responsibility for QA lies with everyone involved in the process, from top management to individual employees. Each individual within the organization must take responsibility for their role in the assurance process. Top management must provide clear guidelines and support to create an environment that fosters quality control.

They must ensure not only serviceable and modern systems that will be used in the process, but also contribute to the correct distribution of all resources, emphasizing the company’s commitment to quality and excellent results.

Middle managers and Supervisors are also responsible for understanding and communication in a team, as well as staff development and regular training to maintain quality standards. Employees under senior managers must also understand the responsibilities assigned to them and perform individual tasks in an effort to improve the product. In fact, specialists such as testers, pentesters and everyone who carries out applied work, are closest to the product. They directly and to the greatest extent influence the functionality of the product.

And in the quality control team, responsibility mainly lies with the inspectors and supervisor, whose tasks include checking compliance with all procedures, drawing up reports on the work done, reports on errors found and corrected immediately before the launch of the product, reports on compliance with deadlines and performance.

The inspectors’ thinking and analytical abilities and intuition must work to their maximum. Critical thinking, attention to details, meticulousness, and knowledge of assessment criteria allow them to sensibly think the situation over and make a conclusion about the readiness of the product for entering the market. If such a specialist makes a mistake and irresponsibly approves the completion of the project, he risks losing the company’s reputation and the trust of clients.

Methods and Tools

In QA, process audits are essential tools to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the processes used in a particular project or organization. These audits involve analyzing the established procedures, documenting the workflow, and comparing them against best practices and industry standards. By conducting process audits, teams can identify any gaps, inefficiencies, or areas of improvement that may exist in the processes. This allows them to implement corrective actions and improve overall process performance.

Progress reports are also a useful tool used in quality assurance processes. As we mentioned above, such reports collect all the information about the progress of work, indicators for all metrics, results achieved and failures. And despite the fact that many consider such reports to be a rather outdated tool for assessing the success of a project, most teams still prefer to describe in detail all the information about the project in order to compare the planned and achieved indicators and results at any time, as well as make improvements.

Here we will mention Six Sigma – a fairly well-known framework that is widely used by testers to monitor and improve QA processes. It is based on a systematic data-driven approach that covers many indicators. The system integrates with other tools and technologies, and also has many metrics, such as analysis of capabilities, prediction of possible errors, testing performance, resource allocation, task control, and so on. With Six Sigma you can greatly accelerate product development and directly influence customer usability.

The QC team also has in its arsenal various methods and tools that help them quickly and accurately check whether the product development corresponds to a given plan, whether all prescribed steps are being followed and to what extent, and whether defect identification and quality control are carried out in a timely manner, designed for each stage.

In addition to various types of testing, quality control teams use statistical analysis to process information collected after audits and inspections. By analyzing information using statistical techniques, such as hypothesis testing, regression analysis, specialists can make informed decisions about the readiness of a product to enter the market.

QA and QC difference: Prevention vs. Detection

In the realm of quality assurance, two key approaches stand out: prevention and detection. Assurance primarily aims to ensure the delivery of high-quality products or services that meet customer expectations. While prevention focuses on identifying and eliminating potential defects before they occur, detection centers on identifying and addressing defects that have already arisen.

Prevention promotes efficiency and minimizes costs by eliminating the need for extensive corrective actions later on. It avoids the potential negative impacts of defects on customer satisfaction and brand reputation. Moreover, prevention contributes to the overall improvement and sustainability of the production process.

On the other hand, detection focuses on identifying defects after they have occurred. It involves conducting thorough inspections, testing, and audits to uncover any existing issues that may compromise quality. Detection serves as a safety net to catch defects that may have slipped through preventive measures.

Ultimately, an effective quality assurance strategy should integrate both prevention and detection. Prevention is the foundation on which quality is built, aiming for defect-free products or services from the start. However, detection acts as a backup system, providing an extra layer of assurance and identifying any defects that may have evaded preventive measures.

Long-term vs. Short-term

Although many IT specialists or non-IT professionals think that the two processes we discuss in this article are interchangeable, in reality this is hardly the case. Specialists in both areas, of course, are required to have the knowledge and qualifications so that, if necessary, they can quickly and efficiently complete the work and give a hand to their colleagues. Despite the fact that the scale and amount of work of a quality assurance or quality control specialist is not much different, the time spent on this work differs significantly.

Accurance efforts are typically geared towards long-term process improvement, which aims to ensure sustained quality over time. The primary focus of quality assurance is on maintaining standards and continually advancing quality levels. It involves establishing sound quality management systems, implementing standardized procedures, and setting performance benchmarks.

QC efforts are typically carried out at various stages of production or service delivery, such as during manufacturing, assembly, or before releasing the final product to the market. While QA or QC play crucial roles in maintaining quality, their approaches differ in terms of scope and primary objectives. QA takes a holistic and long-term perspective, focusing on continuous improvement and systemic enhancements. QC, on the other hand, adopts a more immediate and narrow perspective, concentrating on identifying and rectifying defects at specific stages or instances.

In an ideal scenario, organizations should strive for a balanced integration of both QA or QC efforts. This can be achieved by establishing comprehensive quality management systems that encompass preventive measures, ongoing performance evaluations, and targeted defect identification and correction.

Conclusion

By identifying and rectifying flaws in products or services, a reliable quality assurance services company can significantly enhance business performance. However, selecting the right quality assurance partner requires careful consideration and an understanding of the key factors that contribute to its effectiveness.

To maximize results, define business goals, screen for industry expertise, evaluate testing methodologies, scrutinize the team’s qualifications, study the track record, ensure scalability and flexibility, and consider cost-effectiveness. By following these steps, businesses can forge a strong partnership with a quality assurance services company capable of boosting their business performance and delivering the best products.

Maria Colombo
Maria Colombo
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