What Is Quality Assurance?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 27 January 2023

Published 14 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Quality assurance is a vital part of the development cycle for products and the delivery process for services. Businesses rely on quality assurance to deliver products and services to the standard their clients expect. Understanding quality assurance and the skills and qualities that help people perform this role can help you decide whether you're well-suited to a quality assurance job. In this article, we define quality assurance and its importance to businesses and note the roles, skills and qualities of quality assurance employees.

What is quality assurance and why is it important?

Quality assurance is the process of ensuring products and services meet business and government standards. Quality assurance involves creating policies outlining how products and services can meet these standards. It makes sure products and services are fit for purpose, well-made, uniform and safe.

Quality assurance is important because it:

  • Creates clear expectations: Quality assurance policies contain clear standards and expectations which all employees can understand. This minimises the risk of confusion and errors.

  • Increases consistency: Quality assurance processes help companies deliver uniform products and services. Consumers know what to expect when they buy the products and services, which leads to repeat sales and positive referrals.

  • Boosts consumer confidence: Customers can feel confident that the products and services they buy from a company with stringent quality assurance processes meet high standards. This helps them trust a business.

  • Improves business reputation: When consumers trust a company, its reputation improves. Businesses with a good reputation often have more loyal customers and higher profits.

  • Saves time: Applying quality assurance throughout the development process reduces the risk of problems developing that are time-consuming to correct.

  • Saves money: Quality assurance processes minimise the number of products that are left on shelves, returned or recalled. When people need replacements for these returns and recalls, businesses spend money making more.

  • Increases profits: Businesses with good quality assurance practices usually make more money because they reduce waste and increase sales. They may also be able to increase their prices because consumers pay more for high-quality products and services.

Related: How to Write a Quality Assurance Officer Resume In 5 Steps

What is quality assurance's role?

The role of quality assurance is to create standards and processes that ensure the consumer receive products and services that meet set standards. It reduces the risk of companies creating flawed products, which get discarded or revised. With stringent quality assurance procedures in place, businesses can feel confident they're supplying products and services of a consistently high standard to their customers. Supplying quality goods and services every time helps companies deliver on their promises and meet customer expectations.

What is quality assurance vs. quality control?

Quality assurance focuses on putting processes in place that create products and services to standard. Quality control also aims to create products that meet required standards. However, it focuses on assessing finished products and identifying any flaws. Quality control corrects problems while quality assurance aims to prevent them from occurring. Many companies have quality assurance and quality control processes to increase the chances that all products released meet their standards.

Related: Quality Control vs. Quality Assurance: Key Differences

What is quality assurance: examples in business

These are some of the examples of common quality assurance measures implemented by businesses:

Training programs

Training programs help employees learn what company standards are and how to meet them. All new employees receive training to understand company processes and workflows. Employees may need further training when businesses introduce new products, procedures or standards.

Supervision of new employees

More experienced employees may closely supervise new employees while they're learning their roles. For example, an experienced checkout assistant may pack bags for a new checkout assistant during their first few shifts. The new checkout assistant can ask the experienced employee questions if they're unsure of processes. The experienced employee can also identify mistakes or areas for improvement and advise the new employee on how to serve customers better.

Checking important information

When employees are performing important jobs, they may ask a peer to check their work. For example, a nurse may get another nurse to check the medication and dosage they're administering to a patient. This double-checking process helps reduce human error.

Testing processes and products

Quality assurance professionals test their processes and products to make sure they meet the required specifications. A stress test, which puts products under strenuous conditions such as high temperatures or humidity to expose their weaknesses, is one of the most common. Statistical control, which analyses quality data to determine whether quality assurance processes have the desired outcomes, is another.

Site inspections

Inspecting business facilities can make sure they have the reliable and well-maintained equipment they need to produce products and deliver services to standard. These checks can also make sure agreed business processes are in place. Businesses know that when their facilities follow their protocols and are well-maintained, they usually produce high-quality items.

What skills and qualities are needed in quality assurance?

All employees are responsible for quality assurance in some way. However, professionals who specialise in this area need the following skills and qualities:

  • Problem-solving: Quality assurance professionals apply problem-solving skills to create processes that help their companies meet set standards. They may consider a range of alternatives, then apply critical thinking to determine which option is the best.

  • Data analysis: Quality assurance professionals can understand, interpret and communicate information about data. This includes emerging data trends, such as blockchain and the Internet of Things.

  • Attention to detail: Paying attention to small details helps quality assurance professionals identify seemingly minor concerns that may impact quality.

  • Patience: Resolving issues that impact quality can be time-consuming. Patience helps quality assurance professionals give their processes the time and focus they need for optimal outcomes.

  • Communication: Strong communication skills help quality assurance professionals collaborate with employees from other departments, such as manufacturing and customer service. They understand company and government standards and need to be able to communicate these to people delivering products and services.

  • Project management: Effective project management skills help quality assurance professionals develop and implement their processes and protocols. They also help them adapt these processes as required, such as when businesses implement new technologies.

  • Industry expertise: Understanding the industry they work in helps quality assurance professionals gauge how their products or services compare to others in the market. They also understand the government standards that apply to their business and its products or services.

  • Human literacy: Quality assurance professionals understand humans, including how they use products and services and what their expectations are. This understanding helps inform the standards they put in place and anticipate how products may function in the real world.

  • Time management: Good time management helps quality assurance professionals meet their deadlines. This is especially important for ensuring products that meet company standards are available by their intended release date.

  • Flexibility: Quality assurance professionals may spend some time working as part of a team and other times working independently with minimal supervision. The most successful quality assurance professionals can adapt to and succeed in both of these scenarios.

Related: Examples of Hard Skills Employers Look For

What are some quality assurance jobs?

Depending on a business's size and structure, it may employ a single quality assurance professional or a team of quality assurance employees. Positions for quality assurance professionals include:

1. Quality assurance analyst

National average salary: $76,395 per year

Primary duties: A quality assurance analyst, sometimes called a quality assurance officer or quality assurance tester, tests products to make sure they meet standards before reaching consumers. They document any issues they find for further investigation.

Related: Definition and Examples of Analytical Skills

2. Quality assurance inspector

National average salary: $89,698 per year

Primary duties: A quality insurance inspector visits businesses and assesses their facilities. They inspect manufacturing plants, fast food restaurants and shops and ensure their processes and products meet the standards set by the business. They may advise facilities on how to improve to satisfy the company standards better.

3. Quality assurance auditor

National average salary: $91,787 per year

Primary duties: A quality assurance auditor makes sure businesses, such as schools and hospitals, keep records according to government standards. They visit audited businesses and check their records to ensure they're in full compliance. They also issue fines and order non-complying businesses to change their practices to make sure they meet government standards. They may also revisit infringing businesses to make sure they've implemented the recommended changes.

4. Quality assurance engineer

National average salary: $97,558 per year

Primary duties: A quality assurance engineer, or QA engineer, creates and runs tests to identify issues with products before they're released. QA engineers often work in software development. In this field, they also identify, analyse and document bugs in programs.

Related:

  • How to Create Your Process Control Engineer Resume

  • 12 Key Engineering Skills for Your Resume

5. Quality assurance manager

National average salary: $108,999 per year

Primary duties: A quality assurance manager, or QA manager, develops quality standards for an organisation's products and services. They also typically supervise a team of quality assurance professionals.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate’s experience, academic background and location.

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