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What is Quality Assurance?

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  • Originally Written By: Shannon Kietzman
  • Revised By: A. Joseph
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 10 March 2014
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    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Quality assurance (QA) is a process-centered approach to ensuring that a company or organization is providing the best possible products or services. It is related to quality control, which focuses on the end result, such as testing a sample of items from a batch after production. Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, quality assurance focuses on enhancing and improving the process that is used to create the end result, rather than focusing on the result itself. Among the parts of the process that are considered in QA are planning, design, development, production and service.

The Shewhart Cycle

There are many QA tools that organizations can use and that will help guide them through the steps that are needed to ensure that their processes are as efficient and productive as possible. One of the most popular tools is called the Shewhart cycle, which was developed by Dr. W. Edwards Deming, a 20th-century American management consultant who named the tool after his associate, Walter A. Shewhart. This cycle for quality assurance consists of four steps: Plan, Do, Check and Act (PDCA). At the end of Shewhart cycle, which also is called the Deming cycle or PDCA cycle, the steps are repeated to ensure that the process is being evaluated and improved on a constant basis.

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Four Steps

During the first step of the PDCA cycle, Plan, the organization should establish its objectives and determine the processes or changes in the processes that are required to deliver the desired results. The second step, Do, is when the processes or changes are developed and tested. In the third step, Check, the processes or changes are monitored and evaluated to determine whether the results are meeting the predetermined objectives. The final step, Act, is when actions that are necessary to achieve the desired improvements are fully implemented into the process. The cycle can then be repeated, beginning with new objectives being planned.

Excellence in Every Component

The Shewhart cycle can be an effective method for achieving quality assurance because it analyzes the existing conditions and methods that are used to provide the product or service to customers. The goal is to ensure that excellence is inherent in every component of the process. Quality assurance also helps determine whether the steps that are used to provide the product or service are appropriate for the time and conditions. In addition, if the cycle is repeated throughout the lifetime of the product or service, it helps improve the company's efficiency by ensuring that the process is always being refined and improved.

Attention to Detail

Quality assurance demands a degree of detail in order to be fully implemented at every step. Planning, for example, could include determining specific levels of quality or measurable results that the organization wants to achieve. Checking could involve testing and other objective measurements to determine whether the goals were met, rather than mere subjective evaluation of quality. Acting could mean a total revision in the manufacturing process to correct a technical or cosmetic flaw or very small changes to improve efficiency or accuracy.

Competition to provide specialized products and services often results in breakthroughs as well as long-term growth and change. Quality assurance verifies that any customer offering, regardless whether it is new or evolved, is produced and offered with the best possible materials, in the most comprehensive way and with the highest standards. The goal to exceed customer expectations in a measurable and accountable process is provided by quality assurance.

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Discuss this Article

anon928384
Post 75

Which software is best for QA?

mahtab1984
Post 74

Quality Assurance is a continuous process for every service related organization. Software related services especially, require a smooth quality assurance process for the betterment of the software service.

anon331008
Post 73

Is quality control considered within the SheWhart cycle?

Yusufpathan
Post 68

It is indeed very informative. There is so much knowledge on Quality Assurance, which is a significant part of every production related industry.

anon288332
Post 67

QA is important, but usually I hear that it's not a bug, it’s a feature.

anon256234
Post 62

QA is the lifeline of every organization.

anon243591
Post 59

I am a student taking mls and presenting a seminar on quality control and QA in clinical laboratory.

anon157446
Post 49

Qa has amazed me in the company i started working for. they did not have a quality assessor and that has helped them so much. the company has growth and customers are smiling every day with our service delivered.

anon145618
Post 48

This is a beautiful piece of information with a long lasting positive and professional impact on QA/QC career.

anon144554
Post 47

I want to know more about quality assurance in the manufacturing industry.

anon132242
Post 46

i need detail information about QA because i want join it after my B.pharm.

anon127410
Post 44

Did a great deal for me as regards my assignments. Thanks a million.

anon125610
Post 43

The topic described above is pretty relevant according to the industry, organization.

anon122896
Post 42

Its all about customer satisfaction.

anon115029
Post 39

it is absolutely helpful and significant in any field. this information is very effective for me to ultimately attain my goal.

anon109345
Post 37

Thanks so much for a brief but effective way of defining QA. I am applying for a QA position and I didn't have a good grasp of it until i found this great paragraph.

anon100438
Post 35

Quality is method of product testing, i.e., aesthetic, visual, measurement, noise fully analysed for that product. We can say something bad or good for each and everything.

anon92001
Post 32

excellent and to the point.

anon90865
Post 31

quality assurance involves manufacturing testing and records of product. pooja s.

anon89419
Post 30

good and informative. more matter required to understand better.

anon89373
Post 29

Thanks, this was very helpful to me.

anon84457
Post 28

i find this post article very informative. Now i can explore my knowledge and be fearless to face the challenge what is QA all about. I'm confident to accept the QA position in my next job. -dabu357

anon83818
Post 27

This is an excellent page. Really helped me understand a few things very clearly.

anon81530
Post 26

without top management support there is no improvement.

anon76098
Post 24

Really great work and explanation.

anon71246
Post 22

Thanks. Awesome work!

anon70010
Post 21

do you know what is the meaning of 3s development team in sqa?

anon69382
Post 20

quality assurance includes sdca also -- is that correct?

anon66514
Post 18

now I can differentiate between QC and QA.

anon66257
Post 17

I believe that quality assurance is key in ensuring your customers are happy and it provides long term relationships. I like the above article and I have benefited from it and other websites that incorporate quality assurance.

anon63009
Post 15

Thanks, helpful article, but next time mention quality standards such as ISO 9000 as it is a part of quality assurance. These standards will also satisfy (meet) or exceed customers prospect and expectations.

anon61045
Post 14

The article is about QA that is based on standards, whereas in the article your illustrations talk about PDSA that is part of the Model for Improvement, Quality Improvement -- an entirely different methodology.

anon58267
Post 13

great help, thanks very much .. :)

anon51064
Post 12

Thank you. very helpful to me.

anon45926
Post 11

Good QA requires good social skills, communication skills, and unilateral thinking and acting on the QA person's part; it also requires a company willing to embrace people with such an approach. Good QA requires gathering and implementing semantics from the customer, not just heartless specifications. This requires a company that employs or is willing to support an iterative R&D process. Unless your company is "just pretending" and really doesn't care that much (although it may think it does with respect to its bottom line) about customers, it will allow its QA personnel a wide range. Good QA requires the understanding that American consumers generally have low-standard expectations and QA needs to speak to something somewhat alien in our society in order to approach the aura of quality. If you believe in quality and have high standards, diligently question employers who claim to have a "quality assurance" department! Find the right one - it's worth it!

anon43475
Post 10

This is just what i need to have for an interview.

anon41915
Post 9

This article provides basic information about quality assurance very clearly and in lucid language.

anon39590
Post 8

This is a good overall intro to QA and a useful starting point. The challenge is to apply it in the relevant field and to make all participants to the process aware of the QA requirements involved. - VoxAppeal

anon39472
Post 7

I found this article very good and useful for my report on "Quality Assurance" thanks --Andreas

anon37655
Post 6

i like the whole article.it is a pretty good article and effective for learning.i m looking for the job of QC/QA this will help me a lot. Thanking you.

anon37389
Post 5

thanks..useful for my research, easy to understand! --yeye ;)

anon35624
Post 4

great information, it helped me a lot

anon35115
Post 3

I'm very excited to gather this information. I'm trying to be a quality assurance manager myself.

anon33211
Post 2

I find the article very informative, easy to read and understand.

millhouse
Post 1

Quality assurance hits pretty much every industry, company, organization from academic settings, to companies that manufacture or sell goods, to service companies including health care providers.

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