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What is the Difference between Quality Control and Quality Assurance?

difference between quality control and quality assurance

What do you make of the terms Quality Assurance and Quality Control? Are they two sides of the same coin, or do we unnecessarily mix them up? And if they indeed are different, what points do they differ on, and why is it important to know about those differences? Let’s find out.

Overview

It goes without saying that the most important objective for every organization has to be designing and delivering products as well as services of the highest quality. To help achieve this goal, quality management plays an extremely crucial role. Also Read: Difference between Quality Management and Quality Control

Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA), the two focus areas of this blog, constitute an integral part of quality management. And hence, it becomes essential for every stakeholder to understand what QC and QA are, what their intricacies are, and how the two are different.

It is particularly important to understand the concepts of Quality Control and Quality Assurance, because there is a lot of ambiguity around the two terms, with quite a few people using them interchangeably. Even though the two are aspects of quality management, they are different in their focus. Also Read: What is the difference between Project management and Quality Management?

Through this blog, let’s understand what their definitions are, before proceeding to see the differences between them.

What is Quality Assurance?

The ISO (International Standardization Organization) defines Quality Assurance as, “Part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled.”

Quality Assurance can be defined as a set of activities that are performed to ensure quality in the processes by which organizations develop their products or services in such a way that they satisfy the customer expectations.

Quality Assurance focuses on preventing defects, apart from planning, documenting, and implementing guidelines essential to assure quality output. It also includes monitoring and verifying whether the due processes have been followed, or not.

What is Quality Control?

ISO 9000 describes Quality Control as, “part of quality management focused on fulfilling quality requirements.”

Another crucial component of quality management, Quality Control can be defined as a set of activities that are performed to ensure the quality of the products or services that have been delivered.

That way, it is a strategy that’s being executed when the product has passed the development stage, and has entered into the manufacturing stage. It includes all the activities that are designed to determine the level of quality of delivered products and services.

Being reactive in nature, Quality Control focuses on identifying the defects, and can be performed only after Quality Assurance has been done. It also includes monitoring and verifying whether the project deliverables met the desired quality standards or not.

Quality management system

How are the two different?

difference between quality control and quality assurance

Prudent organizations realize that it is important for the success of their different projects that they understand the difference between Quality Control and Quality Assurance. While we saw above what the two concepts mean, let’s take a look at three major differences between the two. 

Focus: An important point the two approaches differ on happens to be the focus. Quality Assurance — being proactive in nature — focuses on preventing the defects before they occur, and also on steps to design processes like documenting standard operating procedures (SOPs). It ensures that the processes are followed effectively so that safe products of desired quality are delivered. 

On the other hand, Quality Control, which is reactive in nature, identifies defects once they occur. It also ensures that the processes are duly followed to deliver products of highest quality, besides testing the products post production to check whether all the safety measures are met or not. 

Orientation: Another point where Quality Assurance and Quality Control differ is their orientation. Quality Assurance is essentially process-oriented. It focuses on preventing quality issues, with an emphasis on designing processes such as documentations, audits, training, change management, etc. in such way that any defects are avoided. 

Quality Control, on the other hand, is product-oriented. As mentioned earlier, it identifies the quality issues in the products that have already been manufactured. So where the two approaches essentially differ is the fact that while QA involves the processes that create the product, QC focuses on the finished product through processes such as batch monitoring, inspection, validation, and testing, etc. 

Responsibility: Lastly, responsibility is another point where the two differ from each other. The Quality Assurance activities are predominantly the responsibility of the entire quality management team. Every single team member is responsible for ensuring that the SOPs are being followed, and contributing towards designing the quality procedures. 

Quality Control, on the other hand, happens to be the responsibility of the testing team within the quality management team, which is supposed to follow the SOPs. The QC team is also supposed to document the results of product testing based on the standard procedures for product validation.

To sum up

Both Quality Assurance and Quality Control constitute an integral part of the quality management process for any organization. Understanding the two concepts, and the differences between them in a better manner, will help the quality management professionals to design, assess, and execute their plans efficiently so as to ensure the final output is of highest quality.

A Quality management software such as BM QualityMaster covers both the quality assurance as well as control aspects, while handling the broader concept of quality management. Want to know how this quality control system can help you manage Quality Assurance and Quality Control processes in particular, and quality in general? Get in touch for a free demo of this best-in-class QMS software.

What is the Difference between Risk Management and Quality Management?

These days, quality has become paramount for all the business organizations. Regardless of the industry they operate in, or the scale of their operations, quality is at the forefront of everything they do. In fact, more and more businesses are taking steps for continuous quality improvement in their products and services, so as to meet the customer requirements as well as the stringent compliance standards.

This focus on continual improvement helps the organizations drive operational excellence, which also has two fundamental aspects as pre-requisites: Quality Management and Risk Management. Both these aspects go a long way in helping businesses achieve their quality objectives, and in fact are often considered as the two sides of the same coin.

But can they actually be referred to as the two sides of a coin, or are they different? And if yes, then how does risk management differ from quality management? What is it about risk management vs quality management system? Let’s try and answer the questions for you all through this blog. But before starting, let’s take a look at the concept of risk management and quality management through their definitions.

Quality Management

Quality Management can be thought of as a tool or a mechanism that allows organizations to design and deliver products or services while taking care of the quality and compliance requirements. It ensures that the products and/or services delivered are of consistent quality, every single time, and the quality processes are:

  • Effective, as in they help create products/services that meet or exceed the customer’s expectations
  • Efficient in a way that they allow creation of products and services without wasting any resources
  • Economical in the sense that they allow generation of requisite revenues so that the organization can be sustained

Quality Management basically has four key components namely: Quality Control, Quality Assurance, Quality Improvement, and Quality Planning. Its objective is not just to focus on the quality of products/services, but also on the means to achieve it. Quality is all about the product, process, or system performing as per its planned or desired function.

Quality Management involves the development, implementation, and application of standard operating procedures (SOPs), tests, policies, and corrective processes, etc. to ensure that the organizations deliver intended results on the quality front from the end customer’s perspective.

Risk Management

As far as risk management is concerned, it is a tool to identify, evaluate, prioritize, and address potential risks in order to monitor, control, and even eliminate the possibilities of unfortunate events happening, and thus help the organization achieve its objectives. It’s an approach that can be termed as proactive, predictive, preventive, and preemptive.

Application of risk management allows organizations to make informed decisions based on the identified risks, and consequently keep the quality of the products intact by maintaining a strong relationship with different stakeholders including customers, suppliers, and the employees. The process, which may be lengthy and tedious, is worthy enough as it helps prevent costly reworks, recalls, and non-conformances.

It is an extremely important function for organizations because in the absence of risk management, an organization cannot possibly define its future business objectives in an effective manner. Any business objective that’s being defined without taking the risks into account is bound to miss its mark, with the organization losing its direction once the risks hit the business.

Quality Management & Risk Management in modern context

Not till too long ago, organizations used to operate smoothly on the back of some sound forecasting. However, the uncertain economic times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic forced the organizations to change their ways. Now the same organizations refrain from making business predictions, and instead have shifted focus towards managing risk.

Organizations nowadays realize risk is the prime cause of uncertainty for them, and hence focus their energies on identifying risks and managing them proactively before they become a potential problem and affect business. Though they can’t control the external risks such as political issues, interest rates, and so on, they definitely can manage the internal risks like non-compliance, among several others.

The whole idea behind risk management is to ensure that the organizations keep the risks under control so that they can achieve their primary objectives of continuous improvement and designing & delivering quality products and services. Needless to say, at the core remains the objective of delivering quality to the end consumer.

Two distinct functional areas with same end objective

Even as Quality Management and Risk Management work as two distinct functional areas, they are actually intricately linked with each other. While quality is an end objective organizations keep in mind during production of goods or delivery of service, risk is essentially the effect of uncertainty on that objective.

Risk management is about managing these effects of uncertainty on the end objective of quality, and a tool that can be used for managing these effects could be quality management. It is thus safe to say that at some level, risk management is inherent in a quality management approach.

We have discussed about Quality Management in detail in our previous blog (Also here). Talking about Risk Management in particular, it ensures that organizations meet compliance standards while having an effective decision-making structure in place. It also ensures organizations experience improvements in terms of efficiency as well as consistency of the quality, also the objectives of quality management.

Few other benefits of risk management include:

  • Helps establish a proactive culture that fosters improvement 
  • Assures quality consistency
  • Facilitates improved customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Provides opportunity to improve operational efficiency
  • Helps build greater confidence amongst stakeholders
  • Facilitates improved system performance

How the two are aligned

In the current scenario, businesses need a clear understanding of the risks involved in the product or process outputs while implementing a quality management system. They need an idea about potential severity and possibility of any unforeseen event happening. This information allows them to train their focus of efforts on the areas of greatest risk within the quality management system.

Facilitates improved customer satisfaction and loyalty Provides opportunity to improve operational efficiency Helps build greater confidence amongst stakeholders Facilitates improved system performance

Conclusion

To sum up, the quality management and risk management processes are inherently linked. From an organization’s perspective, it is important that both the processes are effectively implemented, and integrate with each other in a seamless manner.

The two might be functionally divided in most of the organizations, but the key for the organizations lies in effectively linking both the quality and risk processes with continuous, clear, and transparent two-way communication flows.

We hope this blog could help you understand the concept of risk management and quality management. If you have any query on the subject, or want to know more about our quality management software, you may write to us to schedule a demo or a no-obligation discussion with our quality experts at BM QualityMaster.

Quality Management Software Implementation Assessment Checklist

quality-management-system

You’ve come to our blog because you recently purchased a new quality management software system, which is a tremendous step for the growth and success of your business.

The impact of implementing a Quality Management System (QMS) on your entire firm can be enormous. As per one study, the typical QMS deployment delivers a 300 percent return on investment. Additionally, according to empirical studies, organizations implementing QMS also achieve less easily measured rewards, such as a greater consciousness of quality, happier customers, enhanced brand valuation, and more consistent operations.

QMS deployment delivers a 300 percent return on investment.

However, putting it into action is a difficult task that many businesses, including yours, face. As for you, undoubtedly, it is hard to determine how extensive your implementation plan should be.  The right implementation will optimize the value of QMS, allowing you to immediately reap the benefits of the software’s offerings.

That’s why we’ve put together a ten-step QMS implementation plan. Regardless of your industry, the following steps will ensure you have a successful implementation and get the most out of your QMS systems. So, read on!

Key steps to QMS implementation checklist

1. Define and communicate the flow of your main business process

Process maps are critical for determining accountability. The creation of process maps will compel the organizations to visualize and define its processes. During this time, you will also be able to determine the interaction sequence of those processes.

2. Establish a Quality Policy

Your Quality Policy defines the organization’s quality expectations. The objective could be exactly what customers require: a high-quality mission. Never forget the importance of being customer-centric (which may be Quality, Customer Satisfaction, and Continuous Improvement) when selecting a quality management system.

3. Define your quality objectives

Objectives are required in all quality management systems. Each employee must be aware of the impact of the defined objectives on quality. Your quality policy defines your quality objectives. It’s measurable and implemented across the business.

The objective could be in the form of key success factors like Product Quality, Process Improvement, Financial Performance, Customer satisfaction, Share of the Market, etc.  These performance-based indicators serve as a metric for ensuring if the organization is on track to achieve its objectives or not.

4. Create metrics for tracking and monitoring data.

The Metrics are essential to keep a track of progress once the essential success criteria are identified. Creating the metrics can be done with the use of the data reporting technique that gathers specific data. The analyzed information should be shared with the leaders at all stages. This method’s goal is to raise the customer satisfaction index score. There must be a goal and a metric for identifying whether or not the goal was accomplished.

5. Define defects  every process

Non-conformance occur as a result of a product flaw or a process flaw. A flaw must be measured and remedied whenever it arises. So, determining the necessary corrective action is the key. When defining your flaws, keep the following in mind:

  • Determine the size of the operation.
  • Determine product and process flaws.
  • Establish a procedure for recording defects.
  • Define a procedure for reporting faults in the appropriate forms.

6. Create records and documents

Some documented information and formats are required by the QMS. Begin with the bare minimum of documents and expand as needed.

  • As per the business strategy, create mandatory document information.
  • Make quality policies, procedures, and forms a priority.
  • For each defined process, create documented information and formats (records).

7. Define the Quality Assurance Process

Internal audits, management reviews, corrective and preventative action processes, and communication processes are all part of your quality method.

8. Determine Your Training Requirements

Everyone must demonstrate competence in their job. Training is simply the beginning; it can be conducted on the job, in a classroom, or through e-learning. Internal auditor competency and Corrective Action training are two significant training areas. Also, it must include training on Failure Modes Effects Analysis (FMEA).

9. Make use of the Quality Management System.

The use of a quality management system ensures that the best quality product is produced. During the procedure,

  • Collect and document non-conformance.
  • Examine the information in order to take corrective and preventative action.
  • As and when necessary, review FMEAs for risk and actions.
  • Conduct management reviews and internal audits.

10. Improve Performance by Measuring, Monitoring, and Implementing Activities

Using a quality management software includes gathering information. Analyze this data to see if it is suitable for usage and if the desired outcomes may be obtained from it or not. For this, you need to:

  • Keep a track of your Quality Objectives and how they’re performing.
  • Establish a few new performance benchmarks.
  • Recognize trends, patterns, or correlations in the data to determine the likelihood of improvement.

It’s time to take action if you’ve discovered trends in your data. The purpose is to improve things, which can be accomplished by:

  • Organizing your possibilities for improvement
  • Choosing prospects who make a difference is a difficult task.

Finish Up

Now is the time to implement a QMS system in your company following these steps and work toward preventing corporate failure. If you are interested in learning more about quality management, I highly recommend reaching our experts.

What is the Difference between Project Management and Quality Management?

Project Management and Quality Management

In your day-to-day conversations, and especially if you are into a manufacturing business, you must have come across the terms project management and quality management. Both the terms are intriguing in their own way, given their history as well as the significance in the context of modern businesses.

The term project management, though in usage for just about a century now, goes back a thousand of years, with the great ancient projects such as the Giza Pyramid or the Hanging Gardens, and the Colosseum of Roman Empire being fine examples of massive projects being managed successfully.

Quality management, on the other hand, is a more recent, modern phenomenon, but has forever been important. Since the time immemorial, emphasis has always been laid on quality. Even the greatest ancient projects we just spoke about are prime examples of quality work.

The modern context

In the contemporary business world, different organizations — manufacturing ones or otherwise — manage large projects. And at the core of every project they undertake is the objective of delivering quality to the end consumer. The organizations strive to ensure that their products and services embody quality.

Now, coming to the topic of this blog- “what is the difference between project management and quality management,” it is essential to first understand what the terms quality and project mean in isolation, and then proceed towards the difference between project management and quality management, if any.

A better understanding of the two concepts can help us understand how the two are actually different, where their scopes actually meet, is it about project management vs quality management, and whether or not the two are inter-dependent. So let’s get on with it by first understanding the concepts of project, quality, project management, and quality management.

Project and Project Management

A project can be defined as a temporary activity that has a beginning and an end attached to it, undertaken with the objective of producing unique physical products or services. So, a project is a venture that has a defined purpose, budget, and time frame, to bring about beneficial change or added value.

Examples of a project can be the development of a new product or service, a change in the structure of an organization, implementing a new business process, or even implementing a new IT-system. It is worth remembering here that quality is always at the core of any project.

Project management is a series of activities grouped together that ensure that it meets its specific goals, within the stipulated time. It is a one-off event, which typically gets initiated when the project begins, and comes to an end when the project gets finished.

The activities that we mentioned here include detailed planning, monitoring, executing, controlling, and closing the project. The planning phase of the project involves the description of the work requirements, of the quantity and quality of work, of the resources required resources, and the deliverables. All of quality assurance, quality control, and quality management fall under its purview.

Quality and Quality Management

Quality, on the other hand, is a measure of goodness to understand how a product or service meets its specifications. It is a subjective topic, understood differently by different people, and usually its judge is the end beneficiary/customer, who expects it as a lasting experience. Every product, service, process, project, action, and even decision taken by an organization can be judged on its terms.

Quality management, unlike project management, is not a one-off event. It is in fact a continuous process practiced by organizations to ensure they deliver consistently high quality products and services all the time. It refers to developing and following policies, tests, corrective processes, etc. to ensure the organizational efforts deliver the intended results on the quality front from the customer’s perspective.

Some examples of objectives of quality management include fitness of the product/service for use, compliance with the requirements, conformance/zero defects, performance, reliability, and durability.

Link between Project Management and Quality Management

Both project management and quality management are distinct disciplines and bodies of knowledge. However, the term ‘temporary’ has long been associated with project management; something which we discussed briefly earlier in this blog. The term ‘permanent’, on the other hand, has been associated with quality management, where repetitive processes dominate

However, the two concepts have converged in recent times, with project management maturing towards the management of permanent organizations. For organizations that are more of project-based, project management becomes an ongoing, repetitive operation, of which quality management is a big part.

More and more organizations of late have started opting for project management as a means to achieve their strategic quality objectives. These organizations are adopting project management as a part of their standard management practices, and this change of guard has more to do with the modern-day business philosophy of bringing value to customers through projects.

With organizations increasingly gaining more project management maturity, the focus is fast shifting towards making continuous improvements to project management as a new avenue towards achieving improved quality. In other words, using quality management in project management is essential for the continued success of the projects as well as organizations.

Quality Management- a subset of Project Management

In the contemporary business scenario, project management and quality management have become complementary to each other. They both stand on the edifice of customer satisfaction, and that quality leads to customer satisfaction. In a way, with the organizations increasingly becoming project-centric, quality management has emerged as a subset of project management.

The principles and practices of quality management are applied to ensure that quality is managed and maintained throughout a project with great consistency. So, it is not about project management vs quality management, it is about understanding the two concepts, and having the best of both worlds by leveraging the two to the organization’s advantage.

We hope by breaking it down and discussing the parts separately, we could help you draw a larger picture and understand the difference between project management and quality management. If you have any query, you may write to us. Our in-house quality experts at BM QualityMaster would be happy to help you with all the information on project management and quality management for your business!