Do you think Quality Assurance and Quality Control are similar?

Many get confused by both the terms and use them interchangeably; however, there are some key differences between them.

QA and QC have become very important for delivering high-quality products to customers, especially for industries like Biotech, Pharmaceuticals, or Medical Devices. This article will discuss Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control (QA vs. QC) in detail.

What is Quality Assurance (QA)?

Quality assurance is a part of an organization’s quality management plan that prevents defects, recognizes defects during the development of a product, and is proactive. 

What is Quality Control (QC)?

Quality control is also a part of an organization’s quality management plan that focuses on detecting defects. It ensures that the end product meets all the quality and safety standards, and it is a reactive process and is completed after quality assurance.

Similarities between QA and QC

Apart from the differences that both share, which we will talk about in detail later, QA and QC also have some similarities. 

Ensuring high-quality product: Quality assurance and quality control are related and essential to quality management. Both share the same goal of identifying and removing defects, and they play a crucial role in ensuring customer satisfaction by delivering a high-quality product.

Following SOPs: Quality assurance and quality control follow standard policies and procedures set by organizations to ensure and secure product quality. 

Reduce significant issues and costs: By detecting and removing defects at an early stage, the cost of solving them later can be reduced. As products move closer to their delivery stage and after it gets delivered to customers, any defect would cost a considerable amount. QA and QC both aim to catch and fix issues before giving them a chance to become bigger.

Improve development and testing processes: Both provide opportunities for the organizations to continuously learn and become more effective and efficient in delivering high-quality products. They help teams to improve in areas like defect identification, requirement gathering, user experience, etc.

Key Differences between QA and QC

Nature of QA and QC

Quality Assurance is proactive in nature. It requires measuring the processes to reduce the number of defects. It aims to prevent defects or bugs before they occur during the product’s manufacturing. At the same time, Quality Control is reactive. It requires testing the product before releasing it to ensure it meets all the standard quality and safety criteria. Quality control is done after quality assurance processes are completed. QA is a preventive process, while QC is a corrective measure.

Orientation of QA and QC

Quality assurance is process-oriented; however, Quality control is product oriented. QA is focused on taking actions to create a good quality product, and QC is focused on resulting in a quality assured product.

Creation (QA) vs. Verification (QC)

QA involves activities to create high-quality products and define standards for product design, development, distribution, marketing, and sales. QC consists of verifying a product before releasing it to customers to ensure customer satisfaction.

Entire Team ( QA) vs. Dedicated Team (QC)

The entire team is responsible for quality assurance activities. Everyone involved in a product life cycle has to follow SOPs for QA. The QA activities that the team has to follow are training, documenting, and reviewing across the workforce. A dedicated testing team is usually responsible for following quality control SOPs procedure.

Table: Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control (QA vs. QC)

ParametersQuality Assurance (QA)Quality Control (QC)
DefinitionQuality Assurance (QA) is a set of activities performed to verify the product’s quality and safety.Quality Control (QC) is a set of processes to ensure that the product meets all the quality standard criteria. 
ObjectiveThe objective of QA is to improve the development and test process to reduce the number of defects.QC aims to identify defects after it is developed and verify quality before releasing them.
Primary focusFocuses on:
– Preventing defects
-Planning
-Verifying
Focuses on:
– Identifying defects
– Acting
– Validating
NatureQA is proactive in nature. It is a failure prevention system.QC is reactive in nature. It is a failure identification system.
Processes– Documenting SOPs
– Audits
– Change control
– Supplier management
– Personal training
– Investigation procedures
– Process checklists
– Batch inspection
– Product sampling
– Validation testing
– Software testing
– Inspections
– Testing process
– Deliverable peer review
DurationQA takes a longer time to complete the process.QC takes a shorter time comparatively.
Life cycleQuality Assurance is planned throughout the product life cycle. Quality control is done at the testing phase of a product.
ToolQA is a managerial tool.QC is an operational or corrective tool.
ResponsibilityEveryone in the team involved in developing the product is responsible for QA.Usually, the testing team is responsible for QC.
OrientationQuality Assurance is process-oriented.Quality control is product oriented.
ExampleProcess checklist, project audits, methodology and standard developments, verification, etc. Inspection, testing process, validation, etc. 
Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control (QA vs. QC)

Use Cases of Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control (QA vs. QC)

Following are some use cases of quality assurance:

  • The manufacturing industry needs quality assurance activities to ensure that the products are created without defects. QA helps ensure that the products manufactured to meet the requirements and specifications.
  • The food production industry uses X-Ray machines and other techniques. to detect any defect in food like physical contaminants. This process helps to make sure the foods are delivered without any contamination. 
  • The pharmaceutical industry follows various quality assurance approaches throughout the development of a drug. QA activities in this industry include reviewing documents, reviewing training records, approving equipment calibration, reviewing manufacturing records, etc.

Following are some use cases of quality control:

  • The customer service industry uses quality control measures to ensure all customer calls and queries are handled efficiently and correctly. It makes sure all employees follow company policies to interact with customers.
  • Call centers need quality control to check all phone lines and ensure every call is handled professionally.
  • The audit industry needs accurate data to be entered into the system. Quality control helps avoid serious consequences like losing money, valuable information, etc.

Summary

Overall, quality assurance and quality control are a combination of activities that play an essential part in the quality management of a product, application, and organization. The article focuses on quality assurance vs. quality control (QA vs. QC), but apart from their differences, they share the following similar goals:

The key difference between QA and QC is that QA focuses on preventing defects and QC focuses on identifying weaknesses.