This is a guest post by Mikael Hellgren, a consultant at Kentor.
Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control – Recognizing the difference in order to take your organization to next level in working with Quality.
As a consultant, I come in contact with many companies with different challenges within the area of tests and requirements. Still many of them do share one very interesting and exciting challenge, namely to structurally work with continuous improvements of their quality processes.
Quality Assurance is a common buzzword along consultancy firms to apply when offering their services within requirement and test. However, Quality Assurance contains so much more than just tests and requirements. Quality Control and Quality Management are two other popular terms which I also hear frequently. It’s easy to get confused in these discussions and in a client-supplier relationship it is very important to speak the same language in order to minimize misunderstandings.
To be able to take your company’s quality function to the next level it is crucial to understand the difference between these concepts and when to apply what in order to get the most value out of your quality organization. Below you can see how we at Kentor are working with these concepts:
Quality Control: QC focuses on testing the product after development but before it is released and aims for finding defects. All good and bad decisions within the development process have already been taken when it is time for quality control. It is therefore a reactive process.
Common activities within QC are inspection, test design and test execution.
Quality Assurance: QA aims for preventing defects by focusing on improving the processes used to developing products. It is therefore a proactive process.
Common activities within QA are process-improvement, selection of tools, education etc.
Quality Management: All managing activities within QA and QC.
How to apply when striving for better Quality
First of all, have you ever been involved in projects that end with some kind of “lessons learned”? Most of you probably have. Second but perhaps more important, how common is it that when we start new projects, take lessons from earlier mistakes in other projects? This is rarely done in my experience.
The result from working this way will be that we continue on working the same way within Quality Control, never really learning from our valuable mistakes. Finding the root cause to our mistakes, and implementing solutions to these problems in the QA process will help us deliver products and services with higher quality, at a lower cost.
At Kentor, we strongly believe in working with QA and QC close together. The results and observations made in Quality Control should feed the way we work with Quality Assurance. It’s important to analyze mistakes and ask ourselves how these lessons can be implemented in the QA-process to prevent similar mistakes in future. Quality Control is where we locate errors and Quality Assurance is the tool to continuously improve.
About the author
Mikael Hellgren represents Kentor as consultant with a focus on Test Management and Quality Assurance. Mikael is greatly experienced in different roles in IS/IT such as Test Manager, Project Manager and Application Manager. Customer satisfaction and Quality Assurance are Mikael’s greatest passions and he believes in working closely with his customers in assuring quality in order to deliver maximum results and business value. Mikael has worked with large global companies and has experience in the Manufacturing Industry, Energy, Retail and Computer Software Industry.
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