Although focussed on the same objective, there are two perspectives to consider in appreciation of QA:
- The perspective of an organisation, responsible for generating specific products or services, and
- The perspective of the customer, who is the recipient of those products or services.
QA is essentially about aligning the resources, processes and practices adopted by an organisation to provide a product/service that meets outcome-focussed criteria (e.g. meeting product specifications, achieving customer satisfaction).
Quality Assurance is achieved by having appropriate levels of control over the processes that contribute to the product and/or service. These controls that are typically documented in a Quality Management System.
As demonstrated by the following diagram, the result of an effective management system is that outcomes are consisted with objectives. “Quality has been assured”, by the application of sound systems.
From a business perspective, interests are in the standard of product or services being provided, so attention is given to the steps that eventually determine the product or service. Getting the progressive steps right is essential to the outcome.
So QA from a supplier/service provider perspective is basically a combination of:
- Having defined quality objectives,
- Undertaking implementation and assurance activities, and
- Correction and improvement where necessary, ensuring objectives are attained.
From a customer perspective, attention is less on the contributing steps (but not entierly), and more focussed on the final product or service.
Daily, we experience different levels of customer service or product quality, the standard of which determines if we will return to that business, or go looking for an alternative.
It is unfortunate that Quality Assurance has had a checkered history because it is not complicated. It is simply based on controlling product/service delivery so that desired outcomes are attained, set largely by what the customer wants.
The term “assurance” relates to checking and evidence of achievement. Obtaining evidence that “assures” quality objectives are met.
AS/NZS ISO 9001 – Quality Management Systems – Requirements describes the key elements of a systematic quality management system.