What is Quality Assurance? Methods, Application, Process,

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What is Quality Assurance?

Quality assurance assists a corporation in developing products and services that fulfill consumers’ demands, expectations and standards. It results in high-quality product offers that earn customers’ trust and loyalty. A quality assurance program’s rules and procedures help to prevent product faults before they occur.

Methods of Quality Assurance

One or more of the following three methods are used in quality assurance:

Failure Testing

This method is used to see if a product fails or breaks under different situations. These situations could be under heat, pressure or vibration in the case of physical products. For example, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sheets, which are used for making modular kitchens, are tested against tensile strength, bend, compression, adhesion, fatigue and so on before they are sold in the market. Failure tests for software products could involve putting the software under a lot of stress.

Statistical Process Control (SPC)

It is a data-driven and analysis-based method. This method manages and controls product manufacturing using statistical methodologies. For example, using SPC tools and procedures, an organisation can monitor process behavior, discover issues in internal systems and find solutions for production issues.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

Quantitative methodologies are used as the foundation for continual improvement in TQM. It is based on facts, statistics and analysis. It also helps with product planning and performance evaluations. For example, TQM leaves no scope for errors in the production process or contains zero tolerance against errors; thereby improving product quality.


Application of Quality Assurance by Different Industries

Following industries use quality assurance:

Manufacturing

The QA practices in the manufacturing industry include ensuring product safety and reliability, reducing costs and time-to-market, complying with local and international standards, minimising risk, eliminating workplace injuries, conducting workplace safety training and so on.

Food Production

Quality is assured in the food industry by adopting practices such as allergen testing, nutritional analysis, microbiology, sensory testing, shelf life testing, label validation, packaging testing, health claims, etc.

Beauty and Personal Care

The QA practices in this industry include cosmetic safety assessment, toxicology services, product trials, claim substantiation, scientific and regulatory consulting, and so on.


QA Vs. Testing

Although quality assurance and testing share a common goal i.e.to have a quality product at the end, both use different approaches and tools. Testing is more concerned with detecting problems in a product, whereas QA establishes testing criteria to ensure that a product meets certain specification. QA is more related to the management aspect including methods and techniques of development, project analysis, checklists, etc. On the other hand, testing attempts to see whether the developed product meets expectations related to design, compatibility, functioning, etc.

Table distinguishes between QA and testing based on various parameters:

Point of DistinctionQuality AssuranceTesting
DefinitionA set of activities performed to ensure that a product meets specificationsA process of exploring a product against any defects
AimEnsuring quality and meeting requirementsQuality control and inspection
OrientationProcess orientatedProcess oriented
Type of activityPreventiveCorrective
Distinction Between Qa and Testing

Pros and Cons of QA

Quality assurance ensures that businesses manufacture and delivery products that are free of flaws and fulfill customers’ needs and expectations. Customers that are satisfied with your products are more likely to be loyal, make repeat purchases, upsell, and advocate for you.Quality assurance can contribute to cost savings by preventing product faults. If a customer receives a product with a problem, the cost of customer service, such as receiving the defect report and debugging, will be charged.

It also obtains the cost of fixing the issue, such as the cost of service or engineering hours to rectify it, the cost of testing to validate the fix, and the cost of shipping the revised product to market. Quality assurance necessitates a significant investment in both people and the processes. A process workflow must be defined, and the members of a QA team must oversee its implementation.

This can be a time-consuming process that has an impact on product delivery dates. With a few exceptions, QA is more of a need — a necessary process that must be completed to ship a quality product. Without quality assurance, more serious issues occur, such as product problems and market discontent or rejection. The PDCA cycle, often known as the Deming cycle, is a wellknown quality assurance process.

These stages are done to guarantee that the organisation’s procedures are assessed and improved regularly.

QA process

Let us take a closer look at the QA process phases listed above:

  • Plan: The organisation should plan and develop process-related objectives, as well as the methods necessary to provide a high-quality final product.

  • Do: Process development and testing, as well as “doing” process changes

  • Check: Processes are monitored, modified, and checked to see if they match the intended goals

  • Act: A QA tester should take the steps necessary to improve the processes

Quality assurance is used by an organisation to ensure that the product is created and implemented correctly. This aids in the reduction of issues and faults in the final output.

Let us understand the PDCA cycle with the help of an example.

A manufacturing organisation was facing the problem of unnecessary delays in product delivery to customers. The organisation resolved the problem using the PDCA cycle in the following way:

Plan

  • Problem: Some of the customers of the organisation received the order two-three weeks later than the delivery date.

  • Causes: The factory received the spare parts one week later than the anticipated date; the supplier did not have the materials ready on time; the factory is located in Delhi, India and all its suppliers are located in Pune, Maharasthra; and the sourcing manager was new and inexperienced.

  • Measure: A reliable, secondary supplier of spare parts needed to be found within 30 days.

Do

Now that the root cause of the problem is identified, the organisation needs to find a secondary supplier. To do so, the organisation has three options:

  • Find a supplier online
  • Send the sourcing manager to Pune to find a supplier
  • Hire a sourcing agent in Pune to find a supplier on the organisation’s behalf.

The costs and risks of each option should be weighed:

  • What is the budget?
  • Which option will allow to successfully qualify a new supplier in 30 days?
  • What are the criteria for qualifying the new supplier?
  • Who will draw up a contract?

Check

After weighing the pros and cons of each option, the organisation decides to hire a sourcing agent in Pune to locate and quality a secondary supplier on its behalf. The organisation needs to analyse whether the selected option is the best option.

For this, the organisation needs to answer the following questions:

  • Does the sourcing agent meet the organisation’s specifications?
  • Whether the amount of money and time spent is logical?
  • What obstacles had to be overcome?
  • What factors could you change to improve the process?

Act

Based on analysis, the organisation determined that if there is a need to quickly qualify a secondary supplier in the future, it could be worthwhile to send the sourcing manager to Pune instead of hiring a local agent.


Process of Quality Assurance

The majority of quality assurance systems are built with the satisfaction of customers in mind. Procedures, methods, organisation and resources are required to keep the organisation focused on its objectives and the activities it implements to meet those objectives. These strategies frequently result in higher levels of customer satisfaction because businesses have created products, services, and programs that not only satisfy customers but also assure that they receive what they promised constantly.

Steps involved in the process of quality assurance include:

Step 1: Identify Organisational Goals

The first step in the QA process is to determine how workers’ jobs are related to the company’s or organisation’s goals. Employees must understand the firm’s mission, vision, and values, as well as how they connect to the company and their role within it. All new employees should be given a detailed introduction to the company’s vision, mission, values and objectives. The first step in the quality assurance process is to understand their individual goals and how they relate to the organisation’s goals.

Step 2: Identify Critical Success Factors

The variables that contribute to the effectiveness of an organisation’s quality assurance system should be identified. A well-designed production process, a wonderful product, technical support, customer support, financial security and employee pleasure are all examples of these characteristics. Make a list of the major aspects that influence the quality assurance process so that you can manage them continually and consistently.

Step 3: Identify Internal and External Customers

Identify the essential customer groups that enable your quality assurance system to function. Knowing who your clients are and what they might help you build programs and services for them. Vendors, suppliers, employees, volunteers and direct customers are frequent customers.

Step 4: Customer Feedback

In the quality assurance process, customer feedback is critical. Consistent client feedback allows businesses to recognise and resolves quality issues before they become a major problem.

  • Regular customer surveys, phone calls, emails, focus groups, and in-person meetings could all be used to gather input from customers

  • Calling customers after they purchase a product or receive a service is a simple way to gauge client satisfaction

  • In-person surveys taken shortly after the job or product is delivered are another option to explore

  • Reviewing customer complaints and returned products is a significant approach to monitoring customer satisfaction (dissatisfaction)

Whatever approach your company uses, the goal is to get continual input from your customers to ensure a successful quality management process.

Step 5: Implement Continuous Improvements

Continuous improvement is linked with quality assurance. The information or findings obtained from a company’s survey or other consumer feedback methods must now be used to make the necessary improvements to the quality assurance process.

More leadership development, customer service training, higher levels of staffing, modifications to the manufacturing process, changes to the product or service you create or supply, and so on are all possibilities. The most important component is to analyse the feedback you receive and use it to enhance your company’s operations for delivering the items and services you sell to your clients.

Step 6: Select Quality Management Software

Choose quality assurance software that not only assists you in establishing a quality assurance process but also in maintaining and improving it.

Step 7: Measure Results

Though there are many reasons for adopting a quality assurance process, one of your primary objectives is to ensure that your company meets the expectations of its customers. When an organisation fails to meet this aim, it is difficult to demonstrate a good return on investment (ROI) and the company’s existence is called into doubt. Make sure there are measurable goals from the start and that everyone involved understands what has to be accomplished. If they are not met, make sure everyone understands what remedial action is required to ensure customer assurance and satisfaction.

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