Quality is of paramount importance, especially when the consumer has a plethora of options at his or her disposal. When it comes to software, the consumer does not have time for slow performing, defective, or bug riddled applications. Clearly, quality issues are a huge business risk, because of this there has been an increased emphasis on Quality. However, we often notice that when discussing product quality and software testing, the terms Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) are used synonymously. While both QA and QC can be considered the same when it comes to managing quality, they are not the same. Here, we will look at the main difference between QA and QC and discuss the role each plays in the software development and testing process.
Quality Assurance and Quality Control – What do they mean?
To begin, let us understand the roles of QA and QC. Quality Assurance is process oriented and for defect prevention (pro-active). Given the adoption of new methodologies such as agile, QA works towards improving and optimizing the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).
QC is product oriented and for identifying any defects in the product after it has gone through development (re-active). The testing team is responsible for testing the end product and verifies that there are no discrepancies between the product requirements and its final implementation and that the end product meets performance standards.
Simply put, Quality Assurance focuses on the process to develop a product and Quality Control verifies the quality of the product itself.
Prevention vs Detection
QA is focused on a strategy of prevention and hence is more focused on planning, documenting, and setting guidelines for product development to ensure a desired quality of the product. It is critical that QA activities start at the beginning of a project to ensure that software requirements meet the company and industry standards. Designing test plans, identifying defect tracking tools and training the testing and development teams in the defined processes and methods fall within the realm of Quality Assurance. This process is more proactive than reactive since the aim of the QA team is to prevent defects from entering the development cycle in the first place and to mitigate all risks that have been identified in the requirements phase. Thus, all people who are responsible for product development are responsible for QA.
QC is focused on defect detection and verifying the product meets the desired quality standards. This method is more reactive in nature as it identifies defects after the product has been built. QC checks are conducted at different points in the development cycle to ensure that the final product meets and performs according to your organizational standards.
QC activities will always involve manual and/or automated testing to identify defects and suggest fixes in order to achieve the desired quality of the product.
Process vs Product
The aim of QA is to ensure that the development team is doing the right thing at the right time and in the right way. QA activities are verification oriented, they can be related to all products that will be created using your predefined process.
QC is focused only on the product and not the development process. QC activities are primarily the responsibility of the testing team and are conducted once the development activities are completed. QC involves activities such as manual testing, automated testing, and acceptance criteria verification to identify defects in the final product.
Having listed out the key differences between QA and QC, it is also important to note that these two are equally important parts of quality management and ultimately have the same goal – to ensure your product is of high quality and performance. Using Quality Assurance and Quality Control together and developing a consistent feedback loop can help in identifying the root causes of defects and allow teams to develop strategies that can eliminate these problems at the development stage and achieve high-quality products.