Quality assurance (QA), is the act or process to confirm that a company’s quality requirements have been met. Planning, fulfillment, and monitoring are all part of managing the quality of production. Monitoring is a key aspect of quality assurance.
Find out about the history and importance of quality assurance. Also, learn how the International Organization for Standardization tries to implement quality assurance standards worldwide.
What is Quality Assurance?
Quality assurance refers to the process and procedures used to continuously monitor various aspects of a service, or facility. Quality assurance efforts are based on audits and other methods of assessment. They identify and rectify deviations or problems that do not conform to established standards.
Quality assurance, in other words, guarantees high-quality products and services.
When a business ensures consistent quality in its products and services, it can establish a positive reputation for reliability. This increases consumer trust and confidence and helps businesses compete in the same market.
Sometimes, the term “quality assurance”, which is another aspect of management, can be used interchangeably with that “quality control”. Quality control refers to the actual fulfillment of any quality requirements that have been established. Quality assurance refers to the monitoring of quality control methods in order to make sure they are working as intended.
Quality assurance is a common practice in most businesses, whether they are software developers or manufacturers of consumer packaged goods. A few companies might even have a quality assurance department that focuses on quality assurance.
How Quality Assurance Works
Quality assurance methods are about establishing processes that produce quality products. They do not involve attempting to inspect the quality of finished products through unmonitored production.
The origins of quality control go back at least to the Middle Ages when guilds were formed. By joining a guild, a craftsman can gain access to a network of suppliers and craftsmen. The guild’s reputation for quality products could be a benefit to the craftsman.
The Industrial Revolution led to more specialization and mechanization of labor. To address the specialized tasks that workers perform, quality assurance was created. The need to ensure the quality of components produced by large numbers of workers led to the creation of quality inspectors.
With increasing production, statistical process management – using statistical methods to ensure quality – became more important. Quality assurance was also important after World War II.
Depending on the industry, today’s quality assurance approaches may vary. A hospital might use QA methods to improve its quality. This might include understanding the core activities involved in providing effective patient care, setting quality benchmarks, and measuring quality through surveys, audits, and supervision.
A different business, like a manufacturer of nutritional supplements, might have different ways to guarantee the quality since the product parameters it uses are different from a hospital. The guidelines for active pharmaceutical components might be used by a supplement company to guide their processes.
International Quality Assurance Standards
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), was established in 1947 to ensure quality across national borders. 1 ISO is made up of over 160 standards organizations. It provides quality assurance for both the manufacturing and service industries.
The ISO 9000 set of standards is one product of ISO. These management systems provide a framework for organizations to meet regulatory and statutory requirements regarding product quality.
By meeting the requirements of ISO 9001, manufacturers and businesses can be certified. This certifies that an organization adheres to quality standards. More than 1,000,000 organizations worldwide are ISO 9001 certified. 2
The management of an organization must establish quality assurance goals and codify them into policies and guidelines in order to obtain ISO 9001 certification. These policies and guidelines are tailored to the specific needs of the business and its manufacturing processes. They’re often created with the help of consultants.
After the guidelines are implemented, systems are evaluated for compliance with ISO 9000 standards. The assessment identifies any areas that are not in compliance with ISO standards. Certification is granted if the organization resolves any problems within the specified timeframe.