Quality assurance is a method to meet customer needs, requirements and expectations in terms of price, reliability, design, functionality, and durability of a product. It ensures that the best possible product or service is provided to the customers. Quality assurance puts its onus on improving the processes so that the defined quality standards can be maintained.
Meaning of quality assurance
Quality assurance ensures that all the related processes in every stage of the production process are carried out as per the set directive to prevent any defects in the manufactured goods or services. The process intends to avoid any problems by fulfilling all the quality requirements.
Quality assurance includes procedural and administrative activities for error prevention. The system is in place to boost the credibility of an organization, increase customer confidence and beat the competition in the market. Quality assurance is a process-driven approach whose goal is to track and resolve deficiencies before the release of the product.
Certifications for quality assurance
There are several certifications available to ensure that organizations comply with the set standards. Customers make this certification qualifying criterion before selecting the required product or service. Some important certifications are
The ISO or International Organization for Standardization is responsible for mapping the processes that are used for the implementation of quality assurance. Most organizations use ISO 9000 to ensure an effective quality assurance system in place.
This standard was established in the year 1987 and its objective is to verify and review whether the company is following the processes and checking whether it needs any improvements. An organization that wishes to receive this certification has to be audited based on its operations, services, products, and functions. The ISO 9000 certification helps in
- Offering the best available customer services
- Minimizing waste
- Boosting the productivity of the employees
- Making improvements in both international and domestic trade
- Increasing the profit of an organization
The CMMI or Capability Maturity Model Integrated has been specially developed for improvement in software processes. This process improvement approach has been based on the process-maturity framework and is used in the software industry to assist in business processes. It has found high acceptance in software development organizations. The companies who wish for the CMMI certifications are certified from 1 to 5 levels based on their mechanisms. These levels are
- Level 1 – (Initial) – This is the initial level of CMMI certification, and has no documentation and processes that have been followed till now; the quality environment is considered unstable.
- Level 2 – (Repeatable) – This is known as the repeatable level or Level 2 of CMMI certification. It ensures all the processes are followed at the required project level.
- Level 3 – (Defined) – This is known as the Defined level or level 3 of CMMI certification. Here the processes are documented and defined at the organizational level and are subject to some improvement
- Level 4 (Managed) – This is known as the Managed level or Level 4 of the CMMI certification. It uses process metrics to control the processes
- Level 5 (Optimizing) – The level 5 or Optimizing level of CMMI Certification puts its onus on continuous improvement of the processes
Test Maturity Model
The Test Maturity Model or TMM assesses the process maturity during the testing environment. It has five levels
- Level 1 (Initial) – At this level ad-hoc method is used, and you will not find a quality standard for testing processes
- Level 2 (Definition) – This level defines procedures and prepares test cases, plans, and test strategies
- Level 3 ( Integration) – In this level testing is carried out in the full software development cycle
- Level 4 ( Management and Measurement) –This level reviews designs and requirements
- Level 5 ( Optimization) – In this level preventive techniques are used for testing and automation is used to improve the testing processes and standards
Quality assurance methods
The various quality assurance methods are
- Failure testing – This method of testing quality assurance ensures that the product or service does not fail or break. It is conducted at regular intervals to determine that the process is being conducted correctly. Some products need to withstand stress and here the process involves testing the said product under vibration, pressure or heat. If it is a software product, then the method of failure testing consists of placing the software under high load or usage conditions.
- Total quality management or TQM – This method of quality assurance relies on analysis, data, and facts to support performance reviews and product planning. Total quality management or TQM takes the help of quantitative methods for continuous improvement.
- Statistical process control or SPC – This method of quality assurance is described as a methodology that is based on objective analysis and data. The statistical process control or SPC uses statistical methods to control and manage the manufacturing of products.
Quality assurance uses by industry
The quality assurance concept is used in several industries for instance-
- Food production – In the food production industry, it uses the X-ray system and some other techniques to ensure that there are no physical contaminants in the food production process.
- Manufacturing – It is the manufacturing industry that formalized the procedure of quality assurance. It needs to make sure that all the products are created without any defects o that it can meet the required specifications.
- Pharmaceutical –The use of a quality assurance approach in the Pharma industry is very important. It is conducted at every stage of the drug development process to review documents, review training records, approve equipment calibration, invest market returns and review manufacturing records.
Best practices for quality assurance
The best practices for quality assurance is as follows-
- Creating a viable setting for testing
- Selecting the release criteria after careful deliberation
- Applying automated testing in areas that are considered high-risk to fasten the process and save money
- Giving enough time to each process
- Create a dedicated team for testing
Quality assurance process
Quality assurance has a defined cycle where the steps are repeated at regular intervals. It ensures that the process is being evaluated and improved periodically. Take the following steps for quality assurance-
- Planning – Think about what you want to achieve and take it as a base to create a quality assurance program. The customers are the lifeblood of a business and think in deference to their wishes. Hash out the details and set the standards. Now establish the objectives of the process so that the organization can deliver an end product that will boast of high quality
- Doing – This step of quality assurance process deals in developing and testing of the processes and making the necessary changes if required
- Monitoring – This stage of quality assurance process deals with monitoring of the processes and making viable modifications so that it can meet the set objectives.
- Act – This stage of quality assurance system deals with implementing actions to achieve the necessary improvement in the processes
Quality assurance in software
The software finds patterns to improve development cycles. It is essential as the developers can avoid errors and save expenses as well as time. The functions of the quality assurance system in the software are as follows-
- Technology transfer – Helps in getting a product design document that is later approved, checked and distributed
- Validation – An essential function of the quality assurance system is preparing a validation plan for the system by accepting the test criteria for validating process and product.
- Documentation – The function of documentation involves archiving and distribution of documents
- Assuring quality – An essential feature of quality assurance is assuring the quality of products so that it can satisfy the end customers
- Quality improvement – To maintain set standards it is essential to pay attention to quality improvements and upgrade the products at regular intervals
The advantages of quality assurance are as follows-
- The system helps to meet the demands and expectations of the customer
- Ensures less wastage and fewer reworking of any defective product as the standards are checked at every stage. It helps to fix issues before they become larger
- This results in lower costs for the organization
- Increased ownership by workers results in better employee motivation
- Minimizes micromanaging
- Consistent quality levels as the process of quality assurance ensure the smooth result of the development process.
- Quality is one of the critical factors in a product or service and quality assurance ensures it. The end-consumer then go on using your product and service and it results in a loyal customer base
- High-quality products are the result of a quality assurance system. It ensures being more competitive in the consumer market
- The products that have undergone quality assurance process have a higher chance of surviving and thriving in the market.
- Quality assurance ensures quality products and services that add credibility to an organization. This helps to enhance the brand image in the eyes of the customers as well as potential investors.
- Quality assurance encourages collaboration between the manager and workers hence it removes barriers between the two levels
The disadvantages of the quality assurance system are as follows-
- The implementation of the quality assurance system requires that the employees get extensive training. For this, they will have to skip work, and this is can reduce worker output.
- The extra training means additional expense for the company
- The concept of quality assurance requires total support from the workers who may fear change and show resistance to the idea