Quality Assurance vs Quality Control | Learn the Main Differences

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Builders often refer to their construction quality programs as “QC - Quality Control” and “QA - Quality Assurance.” Obviously, both terms target “quality,” but are they interchangeable? And if not, what’s the difference?

In this blog, we will walk you through the differences between assurance and quality control.


Why do we Need Quality Control and Quality Assurance

Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA) programs are a critical part of any project. Together, they help insure that the project is not just on budget, but also on time and to owner satisfaction. QC programs focus on monitoring the project’s activities to make sure that they are consistent with the design, safety, and quality standards. They also provide information for improvement activities.

QA programs ensure that the project management team and the construction personnel are following the design instructions, as well as monitoring the project’s quality. The QA department provides information for quality control and is also responsible for providing information on the project’s schedule, budget, and the owner’s satisfaction.

What's More Important: Quality Assurance or Quality Control?

Besides the discussion above, there are other factors that differentiate the two. - Quality control focuses on monitoring the project’s activities to make sure that they are consistent with the design, safety, and quality standards.

Quality assurance focuses on ensuring that the project management team and the construction personnel are following the design instructions, and monitoring the project’s quality. - Quality control provides information for improvement activities.

Quality assurance provides information on the project’s schedule, budget, and the owner’s satisfaction. - The quality control department provides information on the project’s budget, schedule, and owner satisfaction. The quality assurance department is responsible for providing information on the design, safety, and quality.

So, both play a vital role in your construction projects and go hand in hand. They are equally important.

Quality Assurance vs Quality Control - The difference explained

As mentioned prior, Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) in the construction industry are actually separate concepts (or levels) of one system. Boiling it down to the basics, Quality Assurance is process to achieve a quality product, and QC is the execution of that plan.

Quality Assurance is strategic and very process oriented. It's the designed and sequential activities that make up a system to measure the output of a product or service against an established standard. Put simply, QA is about understanding what's required to achieve quality, and creating a system to carry out those quality management requirements.

The main goal of either or the two is to help you fulfilling quality requirements with a consistent quality management system and give you a blueprint of the quality control activities that you'll need to conduct to prevent defects and/or identify defects.

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QA is, for example, a series of checklists and inspections set at critical stages in the construction projects schedule, such as a Pre-Pour, Frame, Pre-Drywall and Final Delivery.

Together these points make-up a system that ensures construction is complete and accurate in one phase before the schedule continues to the next phase and adheres to the project owner and the customer requirements.

There is an end goal in mind to build the project on schedule which prevents defects and has overall fewer errors and rework.

Quality Control is tactical and quality management focused. It’s the act of monitoring the work as it occurs. QC ensures that material installation and the activity completion conform to the builder’s expected standards.

QC also implements corrective measures and quality management systems when those standards aren’t met.

QC happens on the jobsite and requires the quality managers, field supervision, and contractors to use the QA tools and operational techniques. For example: Before the framing crew begins their work, they review a Hot Spot photo to avoid a recurring mistake.

Then, before they leave the jobsite, the crew leader follows a checklist to ensure all items are complete (like auditing suppliers and batch sampling raw materials) and no callback will be required. Finally, the Contractor completes a framing inspection before allowing the HVAC crews to begin their work. There is no planning involved, just execution.

Both parts – the planning and the execution – are essential to deliver a quality project. But with most builders, a great deal of time and detail are invested in creating a comprehensive Quality Assurance Program, only to have it fall apart at execution.

The daily grind of the jobsite overrides the task of completing checklists and performing inspections, your quality system and Quality Control goes by the wayside. Thus recurring errors continue, callbacks waste more time and money, and the quality of the end product suffers.

Final Thoughts

When you have a clear understanding of the differences between Quality Control and Quality Assurance, you are better equipped to manage the quality of your project. Successful construction projects are completed on time, on budget, and with the desired quality. With FTQ's quality assurance program and quality control practices, you can be certain that your project will be a success

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