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Difference Between Quality Assurance vs Quality Management

Difference Between Quality Assurance vs Quality Management

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Quality assurance and quality management are integral to any organization's quality strategic management plan. Therefore, it is crucial for the organization to agree on what quality assurance and quality management mean for them. A strong quality system helps the project to be successful in a big way. So, how well the stakeholders and others involved with the project understand the differences, impact  &  characteristics of the project team's efficiency. The two terms, Quality assurance and Quality management, are closely related and it may be difficult to identify the differences between them. 

Nevertheless, both are equally important for the organization to deliver the project to the customer's satisfaction. Both are integral to every organization's business strategies. They help increase the efficiency of processes and mitigate faults so as to deliver an immaculate final product. 

Seen from the perspective of quality, both quality assurance and quality management are instrumental and contribute greatly to maintaining the quality of the product or services to be delivered to the customer but both are independent of each other and can't be used interchangeably. Before we get into any detailed discussion on the difference between quality assurance and quality management, let us first understand both of them individually. 

What is Quality Assurance?

Quality assurance is a method to ensure that the final product or service has no flaws or inconsistencies. It is a way to prevent defects from occurring in the product or service to avoid customer dissatisfaction. In quality assurance, the quality requirements and the results from quality control are audited to check if the desired quality standards and operational definitions are being used. Quality assurance is concerned with maintaining the desired level of quality in the products or services from the start of the process till the final delivery. The goal of quality assurance is not only to prevent defects from occurring but also to set up the processes so that identifying defects at the earliest stages of the process becomes easy. It is a proactive method of preventing quality-related issues even before they occur. 

Quality assurance is focused on assessing, evaluating, analyzing, and verifying the quality meaning it assures quality in the product or service being delivered. So, in essence, quality assurance is the complete process that assures that the specified requirements of quality are being fulfilled. Quality assurance applies to all kinds of businesses and industries but particularly to industries producing tangible outcomes or using tangible inputs to deliver some kind of services. 

What is Quality Management?

Quality management is about supervising all the activities and work needed to maintain a desired level of excellence. It is a system to ensure that the processes used to create certain products or services work efficiently and effectively and that the final products and services meet the expected standards. Therefore, all the processes of the organization are covered in quality management. Every aspect that may have a direct or indirect bearing on customer satisfaction is taken care of in quality management. So, under quality management, a quality policy is established and quality planning is created. 

Further, quality assurance and quality improvement are implemented under quality management. In quality management, a structured set of policies, processes, and procedures is integrated to work in harmony as a system, thus making achieving goals and objectives pertaining to quality easier for the people in the organization. In general, we can say that quality management aims to focus on long-term goals by implementing short-term initiatives. So, the prime requirement of quality management is that all the stakeholders in the business work in tandem toward improving the processes, products, and services, and consequently the organizational culture itself. The basic philosophy at the core of quality management is that for the long-term success of any organization, is the most significant aspect. 

Difference between Quality Assurance and Quality Management

Now, come to the all-important question of the difference between quality assurance and quality management. As we said at the outset, it is important for organizations to clearly understand the meanings of the two terms because an efficient and effective quality system is vital for the success of any project or organization. So, let us look at the differences between quality assurance and quality management.

Quality assurance is directly concerned with the quality of the product or service. It ensures that the right processes, procedures, and standards are being implemented and followed for the particular product or service. 

On the other hand, quality management is focused on creating plans and policies that determine what standards are needed for the product or service.

Quality assurance assures that the quality requirements will be fulfilled, while quality management establishes if the project complies with the quality norms specified in the quality management plan.

Quality assurance is a strategy for preventing defects in the end product, while quality management is a structured system for helping organizations fulfil certain product needs.

While quality assurance stabilizes and controls the processes, quality management works to improve them. Quality management is a much broader concept than quality assurance as it covers a wider area of business than quality assurance. As a proactive method, 

quality assurance helps identify flaws in the process of product development. On the other hand, quality management includes everything. It involves setting up the standards for defining the project quality metrics.

Quality management always considers lower-level details, while quality assurance majorly focuses on the process of quality. 

Quality management helps decide on the method for tracking and measuring progress. Quality assurance is concerned with the process; it is not very concerned with product execution. So, it helps identify the product's flaws and improve it. Quality management, on the other hand, helps analyze the process and remove any problems and variations that could lead to the creation of an incorrect product.

From a quality perspective, the quality assurance function cuts across the other functions and assures the leadership and the customers that everything is fine with the quality. Quality management takes a complete view of quality. It elevates it to the level of management to put it at an equal level with the organisation's other functions, like finance, human resources management, etc. 

So, we can say that the required quality assurance is provided by quality management. With the right quality management, you can be assured of delivering products or services that are superior to your competitors and more reliable. This will not only increase your sales but will also reduce the problems. Quality assurance has very different motives and is managed by different people. It tries to manage quality from various perspectives. Quality assurance means identifying all such processes in the organization that affect the quality of the product or service and standardizing them. 

Here's a table that provides a clear explanation of the differences between Quality Assurance & Quality Management

Aspect

Quality Assurance

Quality Management

Focus

Quality of the product or service

Plans and policies determining standards for product/service

Assurance

Ensures processes, procedures, and standards are followed

Determines if the project complies with quality norms

Strategy

Prevents defects in end product

Structured system for fulfilling product needs

Stabilization vs Improvement

Stabilizes processes and controls them

Works for improvement of processes

Scope

Narrow, focused on product/service quality

Broader covers wider business aspects

Proactivity

Identifies flaws in the product development process

Sets standards, defines project quality metrics

Detail Level

Process-oriented

Considers lower-level details

Concern

Process

Analyzes process, removes problems, variations

Interaction with Management

Assures leadership, customers

Integrates quality into management functions

Relationship with Other Functions

Provides required quality assurance

Ensures quality management is integral to organizational functions

Also, Check:Everything You Need to Know About Project Quality Management

Conclusion

 Understanding the distinction between quality assurance and quality management is essential for any organization striving to deliver superior products or services. Quality management encompasses the overall strategies, processes, and systems put in place to ensure consistent quality across all operations. On the other hand, quality assurance focuses explicitly on identifying and standardizing processes that directly impact product or service quality.

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