While both quality control and quality assurance are extremely important, they differ vastly from one another and often many are not familiar with the difference between Quality Control and Quality Assurance.
Quality control involves activities which are related to quality, and which are connected to the creation of deliverables. Quality control is used when a verification needs to be made that the deliverables are of a very high quality, and that they are totally complete. Some examples of quality control include things like peer reviews which are deliverable, as well as the testing process.
Quality Assurance involves the process which is used for the creation of the deliverables, and it can be utilized by clients, managers, and third party reviewers. Some examples of quality assurance involve project audits and check lists.
QA versus QC
Lets say for example that a project manager makes a request to a sponsor for approving a business report. If you are the sponsor, which method would you use to validate the requirements for the business to make sure they are correct and complete? One option that you could use is to analyze the document along with the business requirements. If you do this, then you will actually be carrying out a quality control process, because your actions are dependent on the validation of the actual deliverable. At the same time, lets say that the document is thirty pages in length, and you do not have the time or desire to review the actual content. In this situation, you would not want to actually review the document yourself.
As an alternative, you ask the project manager to explain the processes which are used to generate the document. The project manager could respond by saying that they gathered eight important users in a session, and once the meeting was over, they documented the requirements and requested feedback from the group. Once this was done, the updated requirements are taken to the representatives from the legal and manufacturing groups, and requirements were added which were necessary for the support of the company standards. A meeting was then held with four managers in the area which had the most at stake in regards to the system. These people added some additional requirements. The managers were then asked to sign off on them.
Utilizing Quality Control and Quality Assurance
As the sponsor, you should feel quite comfortable with this process. Quality control processes are useful because they focus on the actual deliverable. Quality assurance emphasizes the actual process that is used for the purpose of creating the deliverable. While both techniques are extremely powerful and indispensable in the field of project management, they must be utilized in a manner that ensures that these deliverables meet the quality requirements of your customers.
When a project is audited, the auditor may not have the ability to determine whether or not the content for a certain deliverable is actually acceptable. At the same time, the auditor must be able to determine whether or not the deliverable is acceptable dependent on the process which is used in its creation. It is for this reason that project auditors often carry out a QA review for the project, especially when they do not understand the specifics for the thing you are delivering. While they may not fully understand the details of your project, they will have a good understanding of how good processes look.
Being able to manage quality on your project basically means that you will first need to have an understanding of the expectations your customers have. Once you understand this, you will then want to put together a plan which is proactive so that these expectations can be met. The proactive plan must comprise a bunch of different elements, and the most important of these elements are both quality assurance and quality control, and the activities which are connected to them.