Quality assurance vs. quality control: what's the difference?

Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control: What’s the Difference?

By Freddie Rohner, iHire, LLC

The notion of quality control has been around in one form or another since craftsmen began establishing guilds in medieval Europe. With the rise of mass production during the Industrial Revolution, quality control gained even further prominence. However, as a term, quality control only dates back to the 1920s, and quality assurance is an even more recent concept from the 1950s.

Many professionals who don’t work in quality management or aren’t exposed to quality issues on a regular basis don’t understand the difference between quality control and quality assurance. In fact, even for professionals who work in a quality-oriented environment, the concepts can be confusing. However, when it comes to QA vs. QC (or, if you prefer, QC vs. QA) the best way to distinguish between the two is to remember that quality assurance is a managerial tool whereas quality control is a corrective tool.

Before we go any further, let’s look at the meaning of these two terms, paraphrased from descriptions provided by the American Society for Quality.

 

Quality Assurance Definition:

A set of actions or activities focused on ensuring adherence to quality requirements throughout the execution of a process or manufacture of a product.

 

Quality Control Definition:

A set of actions or activities focused on certifying that quality requirements have been fulfilled or identifying defects in a process or product.

 

Simply put, quality assurance is process-oriented while quality control is product-oriented.

Still confused when it comes to quality assurance vs. quality control? To look at it another way, the purpose of quality assurance is to prevent defects and improve procedures to mitigate these deficiencies or eliminate them altogether. On the other hand, quality control is focused entirely on uncovering and correcting defects in the finished products by finding and resolving the root causes of those failures. Quality assurance is preventive while quality control is reactive.

 

Breakdown of the differences between quality control and quality assurance

 

Misunderstanding of QA vs. QC will undoubtedly continue as the two concepts are closely linked and even intertwined at some companies. However, regardless of your role, as a quality professional your commitment is ultimately to produce the best possible outcome for your employer and the best possible deliverable for your customers. The difference between quality control and quality assurance lies in the timeline: quality control happens after completion and quality assurance takes place before.

No matter if you work in quality assurance or quality control, iHireQualityControl has openings in your discipline and at your career level. Check out the latest in QA (Technician, Supervisor, Manager, Director) and QC (Technician, Supervisor, Manager, Director) and find your next career opportunity today!


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