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

Shannon McGarry Shannon McGarry August 1, 2022

3 min read

Before implementing quality assurance and quality control, it’s important to understand the differences and similarities between the two. Read on to learn about quality assurance vs. quality control and how Autodesk Fusion Operations can help.


What is Quality Assurance?

Quality assurance has a future focus. It’s that part of quality management that is about ensuring you will meet requirements in the future.

Quality assurance builds confidence that a product or service will meet requirements by designing a quality system with planning and activities to achieve this end.

What is Quality Control?

Quality control looks backward. It’s that part of quality management that is about making sure that requirements have been met in the past.

Quality control gives confidence that a product or service has met requirements by designing a quality system with checks and an inspection regime to achieve this end.

Autodesk Fusion Operations facilitates smart, data-driven decisions 24/7 from virtually any location to improve QA and QC.

How Manufacturing Software Aids Both Quality Assurance and Quality Control

Data is often key to the effectiveness of a quality management process. Specification data is necessary to support quality assurance activity. Audit data is a requirement to support quality control activity.

When data is a factor, software solutions come into their own. Manufacturing software can help track manufacturing operations and analyze orders, materials, time, and cost. It can provide visibility of processes in real-time to help comply with standards.

It can provide reports to check conformance with expectations. While highlighting errors and waste and even indicating opportunities for improvement.

Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control

These two terms are distinctively different. Quality assurance is about the prevention of defects, whereas quality control is about detecting defects and correcting them. In this sense, QA is a proactive activity, and QC is reactive.

Quality assurance is a process management activity where the management of deliverables is the purpose. Quality control is an audit activity where verification of these deliverables is the purpose. Autodesk Fusion Operations is a great solution for helping companies easily be ready for any audit.

An example of this distinction is easy to appreciate in the software sector.

The software development life cycle includes quality assurance activities. They are designed to produce defect-free software. The software testing life cycle is a quality control activity to find and eradicate errors after the development phase and before release to the customer.

QA sets the guidelines, whereas QC verifies that you’ve met guidelines.

Similarities Between Quality Assurance and Control

Understanding the distinctions between quality assurance and quality control doesn’t mean that there is no common ground. On the contrary, QA and QC have much in common.

These two ideas are both parts of quality management and share the same goal. They are both about eliminating defects.

All stakeholders have an interest in both quality assurance and quality control in achieving this goal. Customers need a product or service that meets expectations. While quality is of equal interest to manufacturers. It delivers customer loyalty, control of costs and waste, and ultimately is the basis for a profitable business. 

Both QA and QC are aspects of quality management and so are managed by the same quality management process. They both affect all aspects of operations.

Ultimately, they both determine customer happiness.

Bringing QA and QC Together

Given that QA and QC are both keys to the achievement of quality, what is the role of quality management?

There is a need to set clear QA guidelines. You can achieve meeting these guidelines by implementing intuitive software for QC to use, such as Fusion Operations.

Bringing QA and QC together requires effective communication. Quality management can enable and support this communication between QA and QC teams and between the Quality team and the shop floor teams. Data is key. Tracking data and performance effectively helps to improve QA. It can also be used to inform continuous improvement of the QA guidelines and QC audits.

Fusion Operations delivers the tracking tools manufacturers, and fabricators need to keep up with ever-increasing customer demands. Start putting quality first and get start a free Fusion Operations trial today.

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