The American Society for Quality (ASQ) defines quality assurance (QA) as a system that is implemented to certify that products meet quality standards. QA programs help to provide confidence in products are valuable marketing tools.
QA vs. QC
Quality-based assurance programs are different from quality control (QC) programs in that QA is process oriented, but QC is product oriented. This means that product testing falls under the domain of quality control because these programs and systems don’t guarantee quality because they control the lack of it. Quality-based assurance ensures that employees are doing the right things in the right way, but quality control means that products will meet standards and expectations. A QA team is tasked with ensuring that documented policies and processes in place and consistently executed. They also recommend solutions and implement improvements while always informing employees about updates.
Most companies that deal with multiple, large products will employ QA specialists to help project managers organize and monitor their projects. QA specialists will set organizational procedures and required event milestones to determine goals and expectations. This helps them to identify what items and accomplishments should be reported and reviewed. As the project progresses, QA specialists conduct checks to highlight any developing risks. If project scope creep or disregard for financial authorization controls are occurring, they will report this to management. These handy checkpoints ensure that the right people are involved at the right times and stages.
QA specialists ensure that employees follow the appropriate procedures, while QC specialists review statistical data or manually verify products meet standards. QC programs are designed to ensure that manufactured products or performed services adhere to a defined set of quality rules and customer criteria. Computer programmers and web and software developers will always test product functionality in order to isolate bugs and problems. From a manufacturing standpoint, QC programs involve designated employees who visually verify randomly selected products. These same employees will complete QC forms, such as through measuring product specs, and then submit them to the QC manager. This individual will aggregate data through software programs to search for reoccurring manufacturing anomalies.
A QC manager who works at a technology company that produces financial software products will collaborate with diverse business teams and units. They are charged with sharing new ideas, promoting innovation and driving agility across the product’s life cycle. They identify and implement the testing of software solutions throughout the software development life cycle. They must simultaneously ensure the quality of individual tasks and multi-project combinations. They supervise a team of QC testing specialists who are responsible for understanding deliverables, organizing client requirements, designing tests, extrapolating test data, troubleshooting issues and implementing scalable adjustments. A QC manager who works in IT must have a background in engineering best practices, test strategies and troubleshooting principles. They will supervise script code reviews, provide guidance on best practices and develop plans for test frameworks.
Those who want to enter the diverse field of quality assurance can pursue a degree in quality control or quality assurance management.