Quality Assurance and Quality Control: Know the Differences
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Sergey Ostapenkov
Head of QA, Geomotiv
Published: Jun 17, 2019

What does it take to launch a successful software development project? On the way to delivering a defect-free software product, many factors can affect the desired results. 

The complex nature of IT products makes it hard to meet the quality standards. That is where quality management steps in with its initiatives.

Quality management includes several components that appear, at a first glance, to perform similar functions. One comes across the notions of quality assurance and quality control. Many use them interchangeably despite their different role in quality management. 

What Quality Assurance (QA) Stands For

What is quality assurance? The ISO 9000 standard defines QA as “part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled". As follows from the definition, it focuses on meeting certain quality standards and preventing defects in the software.

What Quality Control (QC) Stands For

What is quality control? The article on quality control in Techopedia defines it as follows: “set of measures and procedures to follow in order to ensure that the quality of a product is maintained and improved against a set of benchmarks and that any errors encountered are either eliminated or reduced.” This activity is required to evaluate the product that the development process yields.

Similar Only at First Glance

Let’s take a closer look at the two activities. They help to maintain a certain quality level. Yet they view that task from two different angles.

With that in mind, we can state the following fundamental difference between QA and QC:

  • Quality assurance seeks ways to improve the development process
  • Quality control focuses on constant improvement of product proper.

Now that we understand the mission of those quality management activities, let’s concentrate on their functional differences.

Quality Control vs. Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance

Once the initial product requirements are set, software quality assurance mechanisms are activated. They are aimed at defining the right direction of the software development process. Much time is devoted to planning the activities of the whole team as well as working out the project standards and documentation.

A quality assurance plan is a key instrument in the hands of quality management. It helps prevent project pollution with certain problems at the initial stage. Making sure each team member is doing the right thing is another crucial aspect of the QA process. Efficient QA starts when each team player is assigned a certain role in the process and is made aware of how it’s going to help make the end product better.

Thus, the barriers between ordinary workers and supervisors become less apparent. QA encourages the entire team to collaborate more efficiently.

Other benefits of QA are:

  • Efficiency. QA establishes a clear timeline for each process
  • Cost reduction in the long run. It is less expensive to identify and fix the bugs at an early stage
  • Reputation safety. Implementing QA signals that quality is your top priority.

Quality Control

In contrast to QA, QC is about evaluating, testing, and making the product conform to the required specifications. 

Using various tools and techniques, it's possible to check if the product is defect-free. It also helps to identify possible corrective actions and their scope. It is the responsibility of a quality control specialist to organize the workflow and introduce the most efficient techniques for product quality check-up. Those are, to name but a few:

  • Code inspection
  • Metrology
  • Random sampling
  • Specification review
  • Flow chart
  • Scatter diagram
  • Uncertainty check, etc.

One of the main functions in QC is to ensure that adequate test methods are in use. Being part of QC, testing is used to isolate and document flaws in QC records. This practice helps to prevent flaw propagation to the end user. 

Conclusion

Your software project is incomplete if it doesn’t rest on two pillars of project management, QA and QC. Both practices provide tangible results if applied consistently.

But what if we employed various testing methods to refine a software solution yet had no chance to measure its efficiency? It is unlikely that our product will succeed if we constantly improve development methodologies and focus on the procedure itself. We should definetely verify the delivered product against its technical requirements.

Efficient combination of both QA and QC will corroborate your development team’s expertise. It will help to achieve maximum compliance with the project requirements.

References
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