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What is Quality Assurance? Importance, Benefits, Types, & Everything You Should Know

What Is Quality Assurance in Project Management

Quality assurance (QA) is deployed in project management to minimize potential risks and improve overall quality. By including QA in project planning, you can establish a framework for delivering consistent, repeatable quality that meets or exceeds project requirements.

In this article, we will provide a quality assurance definition and discuss how QA benefits businesses, the different types and tools involved in QA, and QA roles and responsibilities in project management. We will also share a way for you to upskill in QA through an online quality control program.

Let’s start with a quality assurance definition.

What Is Quality Assurance?

Quality assurance is a process to ensure products or services meet quality standards. The QA process helps create quality and identifies defects and areas for improvement.

The basic goal of QA is to refine processes to deliver continuous quality by establishing quality objectives, measuring results, and creating a culture of accountability. QA creates standards, guidelines, and processes to maintain product or service integrity during development.

What Is Quality Assurance? A Brief History

Setting quality goals and evaluating performance has been around for centuries. As goods or services were produced, creators constantly looked for ways to improve quality. QA played a significant role in developing modern processes in the industrial revolution, refining production processes for quality and efficiency.

Over time, new methodologies, such as Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma, were introduced to provide a continuous improvement cycle.

The Importance of Quality Assurance in Project Management

QA is crucial to ensure your products and services deliver on promises to customers and is a fundamental part of project management to minimize risks.

How Is Quality Assurance Used in Project Management?

Project managers build plans with QA in mind to ensure projects run smoothly and meet objectives.

You can employ various tools and methodologies to constantly refine processes and best practices for each step in the project management plan. This ensures compliance with standardized criteria, such as:

  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for project management
  • The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) for construction
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for electrical work
  • Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) for the automotive industry
  • International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for electronics
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for cybersecurity

The Benefits of QA in Project Management

Quality assurance management provides several key benefits.

  • Customer satisfaction: Companies can achieve higher satisfaction levels and retain customers by ensuring products and services meet customer needs.
  • Risk mitigation: Because QA proactively identifies obstacles to consistent quality, organizations can reduce risk by addressing issues before they impact customers.
  • Cost savings: By resolving defects and quality issues in the planning or development cycle, QA reduces the costs of waste, rework, warranty claims, and customer support.
  • Compliance: Ensures products and services adhere to industry standards and regulatory requirements.
  • Continuous improvement: QA in project management encourages a culture of continuous improvement, helping streamline processes and optimize efficiency.

By reducing the error rate, you can prevent defects before products or services are produced and delivered to customers. After manufacturing, for example, the cost of rework to fix defects can be significant. QA in project management can prevent such costly errors.

Lack of quality assurance and quality control have been linked to high-profile incidents, such as the defective O-ring that led to the explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle and BP’s disaster at its Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

What Industries Can Benefit From the Quality Assurance Process?

Every business benefits from QA, although not every industry employs QA managers. Most notably, quality assurance is vital to:

  • The software industry: QA helps identify errors and bugs in code and design, ensuring the software meets design requirements.
  • The medical industry: Medical and pharmaceutical manufacturers must produce products that meet exceptionally tight regulations. Mistakes can cost lives.
  • The manufacturing industry: Consistent quality is crucial to avoid waste, eliminate recalls, and control costs and profitability.
  • The aerospace industry: Project managers are obsessed with quality assurance and product assurance to avoid catastrophic failures.

Types of Quality Assurance Methods

Several variations of quality assurance methods exist, but three are most commonly applied across industries.

Statistical Process Control (SPC)

Statistical process control (SPC) is a scientific methodology to control processes and production. By assuming all processes are subject to some level of variation, either random or assignable, SPC analyzes data to assess process behavior to find the root causes of variations for mitigation.

SPC is often deployed in the software, technology, and chemical industries.

Failure Testing

Failure testing is an analysis of a product or service failure to identify the source and make adjustments to prevent it from happening in the future. Failure testing is typically employed with physical products. For example, failure testing might apply excessive loads to structural components or subject electronic components to high heat.

Failure testing is often used during prototyping to help refine project planning to improve quality before large-scale manufacturing occurs.

Total Quality Management

Total quality management (TQM) uses quantitative methods to build consistent and predictable processes. While there are several methodologies, such as Kaizen, Quality Circles, and Six Sigma, most use some variation of the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) iterative strategy in project management.

  • Plan: The planning process includes information gathering to assess the project scope, what resources are needed and available, developing processes and procedures, and putting standard practice and measurement in place.
  • Do: During this stage, the plan is carried out in a controlled environment to validate results and identify any unexpected problems that arise, requiring changes in project plans.
  • Check: The next step is to audit execution to determine if your planning produces consistent results to meet quality objectives. This phase also focuses on each part of the process to continue to improve, identifying the root causes of any mitigating factors.
  • Act: When the plan meets your objectives and produces the required outcomes, it’s time to implement it.

PDCA provides a data-driven and repeatable process to create better project plans and avoid costly mistakes in the production cycle. This method is used heavily in manufacturing, especially in industries that employ assembly lines and automated production processes.

What is Quality Assurance, and What Quality Assurance Tools Are Available?

Quality assurance management supports the QA process for various planning and measurement functions. Project managers employ some variation of these tools to help map, test, and validate project planning.

QA tools include:

  • Flow charts
  • Pareto diagrams
  • Histograms
  • Cause/effect diagrams
  • Tally sheets (check sheets)
  • Scatter diagrams
  • Control charts

Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control

To get a full answer to the question, “What is quality assurance?” it’s critical to understand that quality assurance is often confused with quality control. While quality assurance and quality control (QC) strive to prevent defects and deviations from standards, QA is proactive, and QC is more reactive.

QA is process-oriented to prevent defects throughout product development and product life cycles, emphasizing continuous improvements, compliance with standards and best practices, and risk mitigation. QC handles quality issues or defects in products or services during production or after completion. The quality control phase tests products during and after production to ensure they meet the standards required and that the QA process put in place delivers the expected results.

Quality Assurance Roles and Responsibilities

Quality assurance management takes a team approach in most organizations. While roles and responsibilities will vary depending on the scope of the project and the industry, here are the most common titles:

  • QA Managers oversee the QA team while developing and implementing QA strategies, policies, and procedures
  • QA Analysts/QA Engineers perform QA testing and contribute to process development (and improvement)
  • QA Specialists conduct inspections and verify compliance with standards, supporting the implementation of quality improvement projects
  • Process Improvement Specialists work on mapping and designing projects to identify areas for improvement
  • QC Inspectors conduct inspections, measurements, and tests on products or processes to ensure they adhere to standards and specifications

Depending on the organization’s size and the project scope, multiple people, teams, or a single individual may handle quality assurance management roles.

Quality Assurance Management Opportunities

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that quality assurance management jobs are growing 25 percent — five times faster than average job outlooks — through 2031. With salaries well into six figures, QA jobs represent significant opportunities.

You can fast-track your career in quality management with an IASSC-accredited Lean Six Sigma Bootcamp delivered by Simplilearn in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts. This postgraduate program in Lean Six Sigma is delivered online over 24 weeks and covers agile management, lean management, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belt, Minitab, and digital transformation.

Learn more about the Lean Six Sigma Bootcamp today.


What do you mean by quality assurance?

Quality assurance is a process to make sure products or services meet desired quality standards. QA also helps find and mitigate defects by addressing underlying causes.

How many types of QA are there?

There are three main types of QA: Statistical Process Control (SPC), failure testing, and total quality management (TPM).

What are quality assurance tools?

There are seven main QA tools used by project managers. These include flow charts, Pareto diagrams, histograms, cause/effect diagrams, tally sheets, scatter diagrams, and control charts.

What is the basic principle of QA?

There are two basic principles of quality assurance. The first is “fit for purpose,” ensuring the product works as intended for its purpose. The second is “right first time,” which focuses on eliminating defects and mistakes to avoid rework or waste.

Why is QA important?

QA helps organizations produce products and services that meet the high expectations of their customers, improve efficiency, and control costs

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