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What is Quality Assurance?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated May 17, 2024
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Quality assurance (QA) is a process-centered approach to ensuring that a company or organization is providing the best possible products or services. It is related to quality control, which focuses on the end result, such as testing a sample of items from a batch after production. Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, quality assurance focuses on enhancing and improving the process that is used to create the end result, rather than focusing on the result itself. Among the parts of the process that are considered in QA are planning, design, development, production and service.

The Shewhart Cycle

There are many QA tools that organizations can use and that will help guide them through the steps that are needed to ensure that their processes are as efficient and productive as possible. One of the most popular tools is called the Shewhart cycle, which was developed by Dr. W. Edwards Deming, a 20th-century American management consultant who named the tool after his associate, Walter A. Shewhart. This cycle for quality assurance consists of four steps: Plan, Do, Check and Act (PDCA). At the end of Shewhart cycle, which also is called the Deming cycle or PDCA cycle, the steps are repeated to ensure that the process is being evaluated and improved on a constant basis.

Four Steps

During the first step of the PDCA cycle, Plan, the organization should establish its objectives and determine the processes or changes in the processes that are required to deliver the desired results. The second step, Do, is when the processes or changes are developed and tested. In the third step, Check, the processes or changes are monitored and evaluated to determine whether the results are meeting the predetermined objectives. The final step, Act, is when actions that are necessary to achieve the desired improvements are fully implemented into the process. The cycle can then be repeated, beginning with new objectives being planned.

Excellence in Every Component

The Shewhart cycle can be an effective method for achieving quality assurance because it analyzes the existing conditions and methods that are used to provide the product or service to customers. The goal is to ensure that excellence is inherent in every component of the process. Quality assurance also helps determine whether the steps that are used to provide the product or service are appropriate for the time and conditions. In addition, if the cycle is repeated throughout the lifetime of the product or service, it helps improve the company's efficiency by ensuring that the process is always being refined and improved.

Attention to Detail

Quality assurance demands a degree of detail in order to be fully implemented at every step. Planning, for example, could include determining specific levels of quality or measurable results that the organization wants to achieve. Checking could involve testing and other objective measurements to determine whether the goals were met, rather than mere subjective evaluation of quality. Acting could mean a total revision in the manufacturing process to correct a technical or cosmetic flaw or very small changes to improve efficiency or accuracy.

Competition to provide specialized products and services often results in breakthroughs as well as long-term growth and change. Quality assurance verifies that any customer offering, regardless whether it is new or evolved, is produced and offered with the best possible materials, in the most comprehensive way and with the highest standards. The goal to exceed customer expectations in a measurable and accountable process is provided by quality assurance.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon928384 — On Jan 27, 2014

Which software is best for QA?

By mahtab1984 — On Jul 24, 2013

Quality Assurance is a continuous process for every service related organization. Software related services especially, require a smooth quality assurance process for the betterment of the software service.

By anon331008 — On Apr 20, 2013

Is quality control considered within the SheWhart cycle?

By Yusufpathan — On Oct 31, 2012

It is indeed very informative. There is so much knowledge on Quality Assurance, which is a significant part of every production related industry.

By anon288332 — On Aug 29, 2012

QA is important, but usually I hear that it's not a bug, it’s a feature.

By anon256234 — On Mar 21, 2012

QA is the lifeline of every organization.

By anon243591 — On Jan 28, 2012

I am a student taking mls and presenting a seminar on quality control and QA in clinical laboratory.

By anon157446 — On Mar 03, 2011

Qa has amazed me in the company i started working for. they did not have a quality assessor and that has helped them so much. the company has growth and customers are smiling every day with our service delivered.

By anon145618 — On Jan 24, 2011

This is a beautiful piece of information with a long lasting positive and professional impact on QA/QC career.

By anon144554 — On Jan 20, 2011

I want to know more about quality assurance in the manufacturing industry.

By anon132242 — On Dec 06, 2010

i need detail information about QA because i want join it after my B.pharm.

By anon127410 — On Nov 16, 2010

Did a great deal for me as regards my assignments. Thanks a million.

By anon125610 — On Nov 10, 2010

The topic described above is pretty relevant according to the industry, organization.

By anon122896 — On Oct 30, 2010

Its all about customer satisfaction.

By anon115029 — On Sep 30, 2010

it is absolutely helpful and significant in any field. this information is very effective for me to ultimately attain my goal.

By anon109345 — On Sep 07, 2010

Thanks so much for a brief but effective way of defining QA. I am applying for a QA position and I didn't have a good grasp of it until i found this great paragraph.

By anon100438 — On Jul 30, 2010

Quality is method of product testing, i.e., aesthetic, visual, measurement, noise fully analyzed for that product. We can say something bad or good for each and everything.

By anon92001 — On Jun 25, 2010

excellent and to the point.

By anon90865 — On Jun 18, 2010

quality assurance involves manufacturing testing and records of product. pooja s.

By anon89419 — On Jun 10, 2010

good and informative. more matter required to understand better.

By anon89373 — On Jun 09, 2010

Thanks, this was very helpful to me.

By anon84457 — On May 15, 2010

i find this post article very informative. Now i can explore my knowledge and be fearless to face the challenge what is QA all about. I'm confident to accept the QA position in my next job. -dabu357

By anon83818 — On May 12, 2010

This is an excellent page. Really helped me understand a few things very clearly.

By anon81530 — On May 02, 2010

without top management support there is no improvement.

By anon76098 — On Apr 08, 2010

Really great work and explanation.

By anon71246 — On Mar 17, 2010

Thanks. Awesome work!

By anon70010 — On Mar 11, 2010

do you know what is the meaning of 3s development team in sqa?

By anon69382 — On Mar 08, 2010

quality assurance includes sdca also -- is that correct?

By anon66514 — On Feb 20, 2010

now I can differentiate between QC and QA.

By anon66257 — On Feb 18, 2010

I believe that quality assurance is key in ensuring your customers are happy and it provides long term relationships. I like the above article and I have benefited from it and other websites that incorporate quality assurance.

By anon63009 — On Jan 29, 2010

Thanks, helpful article, but next time mention quality standards such as ISO 9000 as it is a part of quality assurance. These standards will also satisfy (meet) or exceed customers prospect and expectations.

By anon61045 — On Jan 18, 2010

The article is about QA that is based on standards, whereas in the article your illustrations talk about PDSA that is part of the Model for Improvement, Quality Improvement -- an entirely different methodology.

By anon58267 — On Dec 31, 2009

great help, thanks very much .. :)

By anon51064 — On Nov 03, 2009

Thank you. very helpful to me.

By anon45926 — On Sep 21, 2009

Good QA requires good social skills, communication skills, and unilateral thinking and acting on the QA person's part; it also requires a company willing to embrace people with such an approach. Good QA requires gathering and implementing semantics from the customer, not just heartless specifications. This requires a company that employs or is willing to support an iterative R&D process. Unless your company is "just pretending" and really doesn't care that much (although it may think it does with respect to its bottom line) about customers, it will allow its QA personnel a wide range. Good QA requires the understanding that American consumers generally have low-standard expectations and QA needs to speak to something somewhat alien in our society in order to approach the aura of quality. If you believe in quality and have high standards, diligently question employers who claim to have a "quality assurance" department! Find the right one - it's worth it!

By anon43475 — On Aug 29, 2009

This is just what i need to have for an interview.

By anon41915 — On Aug 18, 2009

This article provides basic information about quality assurance very clearly and in lucid language.

By anon39590 — On Aug 03, 2009

This is a good overall intro to QA and a useful starting point. The challenge is to apply it in the relevant field and to make all participants to the process aware of the QA requirements involved. - VoxAppeal

By anon39472 — On Aug 02, 2009

I found this article very good and useful for my report on "Quality Assurance" thanks --Andreas

By anon37655 — On Jul 21, 2009

i like the whole article.it is a pretty good article and effective for learning.i m looking for the job of QC/QA this will help me a lot. Thanking you.

By anon37389 — On Jul 19, 2009

thanks..useful for my research, easy to understand! --yeye ;)

By anon35624 — On Jul 06, 2009

great information, it helped me a lot

By anon35115 — On Jul 02, 2009

I'm very excited to gather this information. I'm trying to be a quality assurance manager myself.

By anon33211 — On Jun 02, 2009

I find the article very informative, easy to read and understand.

By millhouse — On Aug 18, 2008

Quality assurance hits pretty much every industry, company, organization from academic settings, to companies that manufacture or sell goods, to service companies including health care providers.

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