Quality assurance is the process of inspecting and monitoring a product or service to ensure the item meets specific standards and goals. Quality assurance is accomplished through audits, regular monitoring, and tests. The main purpose of quality assurance is to find and correct problems and mistakes that do not meet the specific standards required.
A step aside from quality assurance, quality control is how a company determines whether its product or service follows quality assurance and the standards set forth. The goal of quality assurance is to prevent mistakes, and the goal of quality control is to find mistakes. Quality control is the process of enacting quality assurance requirements.
Quality assurance and quality control are often used interchangeably, but they do have a sizeable difference of definition. Business Dictionary describes quality control as a “product focused concept, where checking of the actual results are done to ensure that things are as expected.” Quality control can come as physical or mechanical tests to check whether the quality assurance requirements are followed and met.
Most companies have some form of quality assurance in their business practices. This can come in the form of dedicated departments or periodic audits. Specialized departments have employees whose sole job is to discover issues with the product and find solutions to the problem to fix the product and prevent it from happening again.
Outside of an entire department, a business might have one or two employees who periodically focus on quality assurance for audits or testing as needed.
Companies use quality assurance to ensure that the correct processes are in place so that they know the end result is what they want versus less desirable results. Quality assurance programs are implemented in manufacturing, technology, web development, service-oriented businesses, and countless other industries.
For example, when writing code and developing a new computer program or application, designers need to use a significant amount of quality assurance during the entire process to know they will have the correct product. Developers need to understand that the program will do what they want and perform correctly. During the coding process, developers set up quality reviews of the in-progress product at specific steps.
Quality assurance is an integral part of the manufacturing process as well. In car manufacturing, it is essential to know whether the car is safe and meets safety standards. Quality assurance tests the car's various features, including materials, to ensure that everything is up to standard and will protect the driver during a crash.
The primary benefit of a quality assurance program for many companies is a safety — physical, mental, and legal safety from a faulty product or service. After security, benefits include but are not limited to increased revenue, a positive reputation for product reliability, and consumer trust. Consumer trust is paramount to a successful business for both B2C and B2B. Quality assurance helps gain and keep faith in your product because consumers know that your product is built with quality materials and is less likely to fail shortly after purchase.
Most businesses can benefit from a quality assurance program—web development and manufacturing, as well as food and nutrition, customer service, and health care. There are few to no downsides to implementing quality assurance and quality control. You can reap the benefits of increased sales and consumer trust when you produce a quality product or service.