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Quality Assurance v. Quality Control

Topics Covered on the PMP®Certification Exam

Quality Assurance makes sure you are doing the right things, the right way. Quality Control makes sure the results of what you've done are what you expected.

Many students have trouble understanding the difference between Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) as they prepare for their Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. Our PMP® Bootcamp will prepare you to answer these questions and many more.    

One of the challenging things that project managers often face is the difficulty articulating the difference between quality assurance and quality control. Not only do both words have multiple definitions, but their meanings have changed over time.

To make matters more confusing, some people use the words “quality assurance” and “quality control” interchangeably. To others, there is a world of difference between the two phrases. It is essential to understand the difference between the current and commonly used definitions between the two terms:

  • One of the most common definitions of quality assurance includes all the planned activities implemented within the quality system that provide confidence that a product will fulfill quality requirements.
  • A commonly accepted definition of quality control is the operational activities used to satisfy quality requirements.

As a result, while quality assurance is related to how a process is performed, quality control is closely related to the inspection part of the quality process.

Industry Perspectives on the Difference between the Two Terms

To understand the differences between quality control and quality assurance, it is vital to appreciate the role of how these two used words in a business capacity:

  • Quality control. The inspection process involves examining and testing to determine the characteristics of a specific product or service and then comparing these items to others to assess quality. While conformity among products plays a critical role for some industries, for other industries quality control is a foreign subject because there are no products or services involved to inspect and exert control over. The types of products and service that require quality control can range from documents to tangible products and sometimes necessary to control product quality. Quality control is a method of detection used to gauge and monitor quality.
  • Quality assurance. The purpose of quality assurance is to ensure quality by comparing actual conditions with what the desired conditions are and recording the difference. Auditors use inspection techniques as one of the evaluation tools to assure quality, but just as a part of inspecting the quality of products or services. Quality Assurance is a prevention strategy that is focused on preventing errors from occurring in the first place.

Other Differences between Quality Assurance and Quality Control

Some of the other important differences between quality assurance and quality control include the following:

  • Quality assurance is proactive while quality control is reactive
  • Quality assurance defines methodologies and standards, while quality control makes sure that standards are followed while working on products
  • Quality assurance is performed before quality control, while quality control is performed only once quality assurance is completed
  • Quality assurance is less time-consuming and designed to prevent system defects, while quality control is more time-consuming and designed to identify defects in a system
  • Quality assurance is a type of verification activity because it makes sure that a group of things are all similar, while quality control involves validation because it makes certain that something meets established requirements

The Benefits of the Quality Management Process

The benefits that are provided by a quality management approach provide business professionals with substantial advantages. Not only are business professionals able to identify the origin of problems, by implementing quality management programs, businesses professionals are also able to:

  • Achieve greater levels of customer satisfaction
  • Motivate teams to understand quality management plans
  • Reduce the amount of waste that occurs from inferior products

Because of these and many other advantages offered by the quality management process, it is advised that business professionals who are interested in improving their project management skills understand the difference between quality control and quality assurance. Another recommended step that business professionals looking to develop project management skills should is to enroll in one of our project management certification classes today.