Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control: what’s the difference?

Posted in: Air Service, Architecture & Interiors, Aviation, Bridges, Building Engineering, Construction, Cultural Resources, Energy, Environmental, Food & Beverage, Military, Municipal, Transportation, Water

puzzle pieces with quality assurance written in middle pieceAlthough client satisfaction, schedule and budget might take the spotlight when judging a project’s success, quality is equally import and sometimes taken for granted. We’ve written in the past about Mead & Hunt’s extensive quality control program, which contains elements of both Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC). While these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually have different meanings.

Essentially, QA refers to a formalized system of review that takes place during a specific time period before submittal, designed to catch and correct any last-minute issues. QC, on the other hand, encompasses the entire life of the project and is an ongoing process, designed to address problems as they pop up.

Quality Assurance (QA) activities comprise a planned system of review procedures conducted by people not directly involved in the design compilation or development process. Quality Assurance roles include:

  • Group Quality Facilitator – Advocates for the quality program at the group level.
  • Quality Assurance Manager – Provides QAQC monitoring, training and tracking of all projects originating in their assigned office(s).
  • Project Manager – Responsible for quality control of their assigned projects.
  • Quality Control Reviewer – Senior-level person who reviews the milestone submittal prior to sending it to the client.

Quality Control (QC) is a system of routine technical activities to measure and control the quality of the product as it is being developed. The QC process is designed to provide routine and consistent checks of the design and plan details, to identify errors and omissions which can then be addressed. Quality Control roles include:

  • Designer – Document developer
  • Checker – Independent document checker
  • Back-checker – confirms/denies checker corrections prior to updating
  • Updater – updates document to agreed-to revision
  • Re-checker – verifies document corrections have been made.

Both QA and QC are a vital part of long-term project success, so knowing the differences between them is important—we certainly don’t want to inadvertently ignore a critical part of the QAQC process due to a misunderstanding. Mead & Hunt is committed to further honing our QAQC process to provide solutions that can serve communities for generations to come.

quality assurance and quality control table


Read more posts on QAQC by clicking the links below.

Gary Ruchti, PE

About the Author

Gary Ruchti, PE is committed to finding successful water resource solutions to our clients’ toughest challenges. “For me, the most rewarding part of this job is being able to provide successful, effective, lasting solutions to our clients.” In his time away from the world of water resources, Gary has been involved the development of more than 20 DOT bridge projects each year throughout the Midwest. He enjoys traveling, reading and running.

Read more posts by Gary Ruchti, PE

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