Quality control is a process that is used to ensure a certain level of quality in a product or service. It might include whatever actions a business deems necessary to provide for the control and verification of certain characteristics of a product or service. Most often, it involves thoroughly examining and testing the quality of products or the results of services. The basic goal of this process is to ensure that the products or services that are provided meet specific requirements and characteristics, such as being dependable, satisfactory, safe and fiscally sound.
Companies that engage in quality control typically have a team of workers who focus on testing a certain number of products or observing services being done. The products or services that are examined usually are chosen at random. The goal of the quality control team is to identify products or services that do not meet a company's specified standards of quality. If a problem is identified, the job of a quality control team or professional might involve stopping production or service until the problem has been corrected. Depending on the particular service or product as well as the type of problem identified, production or services might not cease entirely.
Usually, it is not the job of the quality control team or professional to correct quality issues. Typically, other individuals are involved in the process of discovering the cause of quality issues and fixing them. After the problems are overcome and the proper quality has been achieved, the product or service continues production or implementation as usual.
Many types of businesses perform these types of quality checks. Manufacturers of food products, for example, often have employees who test the finished products for taste and other qualities. Clothing manufacturers have workers inspect garments to ensure that they are properly sewn. Service-oriented companies often have representatives who observe the services being performed or who do follow-up checks to ensure that everything was done properly.
Quality control also might involve evaluating people. If a company has employees who don't have adequate skills or training, have trouble understanding directions or are misinformed, the quality of the company's products or services might be diminished. This is especially important for service-oriented companies, because the employees are the product that they provide to customers.
Often, quality control is confused with quality assurance. Though the two are similar, but there are some basic differences. Quality control is concerned with examining the product or service — the end result ‐ and quality assurance is concerned with examining the process that leads to the end result. A company would use quality assurance to ensure that a product is manufactured in the right way, thereby reducing or eliminating potential problems with the quality of the final product.