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Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control: Know The Difference

What is Quality Management?

Before delving into Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC), it is essential to first establish a clear understanding of Quality Management. Quality Management is a systematic approach that encompasses the various activities, tasks, and processes employed to ensure that a product or service consistently meets a predefined level of excellence. This approach plays a crucial role in upholding uniformity in the quality of an organization’s offerings, thereby fostering customer satisfaction and trust.

Quality management consists of four key components:
  • Quality Planning
  • Quality Assurance
  • Quality Control
  • Quality Improvement

The process of implementing the above four components within an organization is referred to as Total Quality Management (TQM). It is also essential to mention that many organizations (especially smaller ones), will use the term Quality Assurance instead of TQM. So any QA professional needs to understand the underlying concept of each component for the whole picture.

What is Quality Planning?

Quality Planning is a vital component of Quality Management that focuses on establishing a roadmap for achieving the desired level of quality in a product or service. It involves the identification, development, and documentation of quality objectives, requirements, standards, and metrics. This systematic process ensures that the necessary resources, tools, and methodologies are in place to meet the specified quality goals.

In Quality Planning, the following steps are typically undertaken:
  1. Define quality objectives: Clearly outline the quality goals for the product or service, aligned with the organization’s overall objectives and customer expectations.
  2. Identify quality requirements: Determine the specific quality attributes or characteristics that the product or service must possess to satisfy the defined objectives.
  3. Establish quality standards: Set benchmarks or guidelines to be followed throughout the project lifecycle to ensure adherence to the desired quality requirements.
  4. Develop quality metrics: Create measurable indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of the quality efforts and track progress toward meeting the set objectives.
  5. Select quality tools and techniques: Choose appropriate methods, tools, and techniques for implementing the quality plan, including testing, inspections, reviews, and audits.
  6. Allocate resources: Allocate the necessary human, financial, and material resources to execute the quality plan effectively.
  7. Document the quality plan: Create a comprehensive document detailing the quality objectives, requirements, standards, metrics, tools, techniques, and resource allocation for future reference and communication among stakeholders.

Quality Planning enables organizations to proactively address potential quality issues, minimize risks, and improve the overall efficiency of the development process.

What is Quality Assurance?

Quality Assurance is a set of activities to ensure the product or service delivered to customers has met the contractual agreements. The core purpose of QA is defect prevention and to increase customer confidence and company credibility. Quality Assurance is the part of quality management that focuses on fulfilling quality requirements. QA delivers consistent results with the support of standardized processes that monitor different aspects of a product or service. It’s an ongoing process within the development of a software product. Quality Assurance is backed by ISO 9000 (International Organization for Standardization), defined as “part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled.” ISO standards keep updating as per the latest market trends. The latest one in the 9000 series is ISO 9001:2015, which focuses on stronger customer relations, top management practices, and more information for risk-based decision-making. Through regular meetings, audits, and other assessments, QA verifies and fixes any variance that falls outside the organization’s standards or requirements. So QA is not just a one-time activity. The QA concept was first introduced in manufacturing and later adopted by most industries, including software.

What is Quality Control?

Quality control is a set of procedures ensuring the product or service adheres to the defined quality criteria. Quality Control creates an environment where employees and management strive for perfection. This is achieved by training, creating benchmarks for measuring quality, and testing to check the variance. One of the significant aspects of quality control is the establishment of well-defined controls. These controls limit the room for error by specifying what all activities should be performed by which personnel, thereby reducing the chance of employees not working for which they didn’t get training. There are different quality control methods like control charts, process control, acceptance sampling, etc. So QC is significant for many reasons: improving customer satisfaction and production methods, lowering production and operation costs, using resources effectively, etc. For QC to be effective in an organization, the extent of QC actions should be determined, and the actual data of failure should be collected. Based on these data, the corrective actions are planned and done. So the QC process is always ongoing to ensure the corrective actions give successful results and no new variations are created.

QA and QC in the software industry

Quality Assurance is a procedure to ensure the quality of software products or services provided to the customer. QA focuses on the SDLC process making it efficient and effective as per the quality standards. It also focuses on establishing proper procedures, root cause analysis, ensuring document quality, and performing audits and training. Meanwhile, Quality Control aims to verify if the product or service meets the specifications and requirements provided by the customer. QC deals with the quality of the end product rather than the processes used to create the product. QC focuses on non-functional requirements monitoring, automation, maintaining test plans and executing different types of testing.

Let’s see a few activities performed by QA and QC:
QA Activities – Quality Audit, Defining Process, Tool identification, and Training of Quality standards.
QC Activities – Walkthrough, Testing, Inspection, and Checkpoint review
According to Software Industry, we can term QA and QC as
QA —> Software Quality Assurance
QC —> Software Testing

QA vs. QC

Comparison Quality Assurance Quality Control
Focus Focus on assuring the product or service delivered will be the best for overall quality Focus on ensuring the assured quality of the product is met
Nature Proactive by looking to reduce the number of defects by measuring the process Reactive in nature and usually completed after the QA
Concept Prevention of defects Identification of defects
Aim Aims for defect prevention Aims to identify and fix the defects
Duration Long-term process starting from the product design phase Shorter term process 
System Perceived as a management tool for preventing quality issues Considered as an operation tool for identifying and correcting defects before market release
Responsibility Organization-wide responsibility Designated testing team is responsible for QC procedures
Process Defines standards and methodologies for meeting customer requirements Ensures all standards are followed during the development of the product
Life Cycle Responsible for the whole Software Development Life Cycle Activities happen in Software Testing Life Cycle
Standards Ensures everything is executed the right way (Verification) Ensures actions are taken as per requirements (Validation)
Field of Work Process-oriented, involves process design, such as SOPs and project documents Product-oriented, involves product testing to make sure it meets provided standards

The first step to improve your QA process

Nowadays, while many teams continue to rely on manual testing, there is a growing shift toward automated quality assurance to achieve a more streamlined process. By automating the testing process, software teams can dedicate less time to regression testing and focus on code coverage and edge case testing. Automated QA scales more effectively as it expands and is less labor-intensive.

However, we’ve seen many teams spend months, even years, towards functional test automation – and have very unsatisfactory results. These teams decided to stick to old open-source tools, which always end up taking up an enormous amount of time for authoring and maintaining tests. If you’ve been in QA for some time, you’ve likely experienced it firsthand.

testRigor is not just another tool for test automation; it plays a pivotal role in improving the quality assurance process. You can finally scale your automation coverage with ease, and have the entire team collaborate around delivering the highest quality to your customers.

testRigor allows for creating and maintaining test scripts using plain English, making it accessible not only to QA professionals but also managers, business analysts, and stakeholders. With testRigor, users simply need to specify the element locator by name or relative position, and the platform’s integrated AI will identify the element and its locators.

You can test web, mobile, and desktop applications with testRigor, including end-to-end, cross-platform tests. Add extreme test stability, speed of test authoring, and very low maintenance required – and you can see why our customers are saying that testRigor changed their QA processes and why they wouldn’t use any other automation tool.

As a versatile testing solution, testRigor significantly simplifies the Quality Assurance process while also making it more cost-effective. Its wide range of testing capabilities ensures a comprehensive approach to maintaining high-quality standards.

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