Quality Assurance (QA)

Quality Assurance (QA) - Toolshero

Quality assurance (QA): this article explains the concept of Quality Assurance or QA in a practical way. The article contains the definition of the term, followed by an explanation of the two main principles and their efficiency. You will also read about the advantages and disadvantages of implementing a QA process. Enjoy reading!

What is Quality Assurance?

Quality Assurance (QA) can be defined as a term used in the manufacturing and services industry to describe the systematic process used to ensure that the products and services provided meet agreed quality, performance and customer expectations.

The purpose of QA is to prevent errors and defects in development and production (zero defects), such as cars and shoes, or services provided, such as repairs and design of sneakers.

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ISO 9000 defines this process as part of quality management aimed at giving consumers confidence that the product or service meets the quality requirements.

What is the difference between Quality Assurance and Quality Control

The terms Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) are often used interchangeably to refer to ways of ensuring the quality of a product or service. The term assurance is used within a context of inspection and testing implementation as a measure of quality assurance in, for example, a software project.

Inspection and testing are part of the measurement phase of the DMAIC process. DMAIC is a strategy used to improve processes. Control is the fifth stage of the model.

Fit and Right

QA includes two main principles:

  • Fit for purpose
  • Right first time

Fit for purpose

This principle means that the product or service should be suitable for its intended purpose. In other words, it should meet the specific requirements and needs of the customer or user.

Quality assurance focuses on ensuring that what is produced conforms to the established standards and expectations.

Right first time

This principle entails the removal of errors and defects in the production process so that the end product immediately meets the desired quality standards.

The goal is to minimize rework, repetitions, and waste. It also promotes efficiency and cost savings by striving for perfection from the beginning of the production process, rather than having to correct defects later on.

The discipline of quality assurance includes the management of the quality of raw materials, assemblies, products and components.

Origin of Quality Assurance

Defining what exactly constitutes good product quality is difficult because it is influenced by many factors. From subjective user experiences to measurable quality characteristics, it is part of the quality of a product.

The first attempts to control the quality of a production process date back to the Middle Ages. Guilds took responsibility for ensuring the quality of goods and services. The standards for this were set by members of the guild.

During the time of the world wars, production processes became more complex and more workers participated in the production process. That caused problems because workers could earn more money by producing more. Then figures like Ford introduced the concept of standardization. This also gave rise to Statistical Process Control (SPC), developed by Walter A. Shewhart.

Principles behind quality assurance

To achieve effective quality assurance, several essential principles are maintained.

Standardization and compliance

Standardization plays a crucial role in quality assurance. By establishing uniform processes, procedures and specifications, organizations can ensure consistency and predictability in their results.

Following recognized standards and regulations helps maintain product safety, reliability, and compatibility with industry standards.

Compliance with these standards gives consumers confidence that the products or services meet established quality requirements.

Continuous improvement

The philosophy of continuous improvement, often associated with methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma, is at the heart of quality assurance.

By focusing on continuous refinement, organizations strive to identify areas for improvement in their processes, products and services.

Through data analysis, feedback loops and root cause analysis, they aim to optimize efficiency, eliminate defects and improve overall quality.

Prevention over detection

A fundamental principle is to put prevention before detection. Rather than relying solely on inspecting finished products or services for defects, the focus is on preventing problems in the first place.

This includes identifying potential risks, conducting risk assessments and implementing preventive measures throughout the service or production lifecycle.

By integrating these principles into QA practices, organizations ensure that products and services not only meet customer expectations, but also continuously improve over time.

Benefits of quality assurance

Below you will find the benefits associated with the effective application of QA.

Improved product quality

QA ensures that products meet high standards, reducing defects and increasing customer satisfaction.

Strengthens customer confidence

Reliable quality builds trust with customers, which encourages repeat purchases and positive reviews.

Efficient processes

QA identifies inefficiencies, leading to streamlined work processes and cost savings.

Improved decision making

Data-driven insights from quality assurance help companies make informed choices.


QA ensures regulatory compliance, increasing credibility and market access.

Reduced risks

Early detection of problems prevents costly mistakes and protects the company’s reputation.

Pitfalls of quality assurance

The application of QA also has pitfalls. You can read more about this below.

Excessive emphasis on procedures

Too much attention to rules can hinder creativity and flexibility.

Substandard execution of processes

Poor quality assurance can lead to missed errors and unreliable results.

Excessive costs

Overly complex quality assurance can strain resources without proportionate benefits.


Relying solely on quality assurance without continuous improvement can hinder innovation.

Resistance to change

Employees may reject QA if they find it burdensome or interfering.

False security

QA cannot guarantee perfection; errors can still occur despite all efforts.

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Now it’s your turn

What do you think? Do you recognize the explanation about Quality Assurance (QA)? Can you share an example of a situation where QA was of great importance? What role does quality assurance play in your industry? What are the benefits of applying quality assurance in your organization? How important do you think it is to invest in quality? What quality assurance tools or methods are you familiar with? Do you have other tips or comments?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Elassy, N. (2015). The concepts of quality, quality assurance and quality enhancement. Quality assurance in education, 23(3), 250-261.
  2. Woodhouse, D. (1999). Quality and quality assurance. Quality and internationalisation in higher education.
  3. Montgomery, D. C. (2020). Introduction to statistical quality control. John Wiley & Sons.

How to cite this article:
Janse, B. (2023). Quality Assurance (QA). Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero: https://www.toolshero.com/quality-management/quality-assurance/

Original publication date: 09/04/2023 | Last update: 09/04/2023

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Ben Janse
Article by:

Ben Janse

Ben Janse is a young professional working at ToolsHero as Content Manager. He is also an International Business student at Rotterdam Business School where he focusses on analyzing and developing management models. Thanks to his theoretical and practical knowledge, he knows how to distinguish main- and side issues and to make the essence of each article clearly visible.


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