Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA)
Many people are confused about what QC and QA involve. Understanding the differences and how both play a vital but distinct role in helping a company achieve the highest quality standards is important.
QC and QA work together as part of an overall quality management system (QMS) and both are essential to achieving and maintaining compliance.
What is quality assurance?
Quality assurance is a set of processes that ensure quality in the development of a product and its purpose is to prevent defects and poor quality.
Effective quality assurance creates quality controls throughout the product life cycle. These processes and actions, such as documenting standard operating procedures (SOPs), must ensure that the product is safe and effective.
What is quality control?
Quality control is product oriented. Uses experimental methods to verify that the final product is safe, effective, and compliant with standards. QC is a response because it exists to identify and correct defects and errors after occurrence.
Key differences between QC and QA
There is an overlap between quality assurance and quality control. Both focus on quality; But they are distinctly different.
Quality assurance is implemented before quality control. The purpose of quality assurance is to improve development and testing processes to prevent defects and ensure quality. Quality control detects any defects or errors after product production and before supply.
Process and product
Quality assurance is process-oriented and focuses on actions that prevent quality problems. Quality assurance processes may include documentation, auditing, supplier management, training, change control, and research procedures.
Quality control is product-oriented and focuses on finding quality issues in the end result. Quality control methods may include product sampling, batch inspection, and validation testing.
Consider making a children’s toy, for example. Quality assurance focuses on the actions and processes used to develop and produce toys. Quality control focuses on identifying quality issues with the final product, the toy itself.
The whole team against an experienced team
Quality assurance activities include the entire team. It is also included in standard operating procedures and other processes and actions.
Quality control is usually the responsibility of an experienced and dedicated team whose duties include following SOPs for product testing and quality control.
The relationship between QA and QC
Neither QA nor QC are optional. They are necessary and interdependent. Quality assurance is a management tool and quality control is a corrective tool.
Quality assurance activities are determined before production begins. These activities take place while the product is being developed. Quality control activities are performed after product development. In other words, one follows the other.
Because quality assurance takes precedence over quality control, any non-conformance discovered during quality control must guarantee quality assurance. Any non-compliance should spark QA review and corrective action (CAPA) to find the cause of quality problems. QA processes must then be updated to prevent duplication.
If effective quality assurance processes are followed, quality control testing procedures should not find unsafe products; But if a quality control test reveals quality problems, the release and distribution of an unsafe product should be avoided.
Ways a QMS improves quality control and quality assurance
QA and QC work better together. They guarantee universal quality processes when incorporated into a QMS, and ultimately optimize performance.
An optimal enterprise quality management system (QMS) integrates quality assurance and quality control processes to ensure that each product meets specific quality, safety, and compliance requirements.
A quality management system monitors and effectively manages all the key areas needed to maintain quality in processes and products.
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