Working in Quality Assurance
For those of you who are considering embarking on an audit career or changing your role within the industry, you may wish to consider Quality Assurance. Often confused with Quality Control, this strain of auditing involves establishing policies and procedures to ensure an organisation’s standards are maintained and enhanced.
To fully contemplate a career in this field, you will need to know what this audit job entails, how it differs from Quality Control, and how the two fields intersect for optimum results.
What is Quality Assurance?
Quality Assurance requires a joint effort from professionals within an organisation as well as external bodies. A Quality Assurance auditor will oversee facets of the organisation including staff development and acquisition of feedback from stakeholders and then apply established criteria via a systematic approach to ascertain the quality of products and services as well as the organisation’s operating systems. This assessment involves measuring operating systems and comparing existing processes with governance standards. This is followed by giving feedback to managers so that processes may adhere more closely to established standards and thereby improve. The Quality Assurance auditor provides the final stamp of approval prior to a product or service reaching the targeted market.
The purpose of Quality Assurance is to prevent mistakes and to ensure the organisation’s systems are meeting business objectives. Two principles govern Quality Assurance:
“Fit for purpose” – A Quality Assurance auditor will determine if a product, service, or system is appropriate for its intended purpose.
“Right first time” – A QA will endeavour to eliminate mistakes in the organisation’s practices.
As mentioned earlier, Quality Assurance is often confused with Quality Control, and although these roles differ, it is important that they operate in harmony in order for an organisation to achieve its goals.
How is Quality Assurance different to Quality Control?
QA and QC involve different techniques regarding observation and activities but they are not mutually exclusive. Assurance provides an assertion to management and stakeholders that quality requirements will be fulfilled; it is the managing of quality that rests at the essence of Quality Assurance. Control focuses on the output of systems; the detection of faults and controlling the quality of yield.
Similar to the components of GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance), the elements of QA and QC cannot achieve the organisation’s overarching desired effect if operating in silo. If only QA is undertaken, an organisation has standards to apply but not controlled. If only QC is applied, tests are conducted without visualization for enhancement.
How to become a Quality Assurance auditor
Firstly, becoming an audit professional requires at least a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, Business, Commerce or similar, which takes approximately three years at university. Gaining Quality Assurance skills often requires intimate knowledge of an organisation’s operating systems and product knowledge. This can be gained through practical experience as or alongside production workers and technicians, gaining skills in analysis, testing, and qualifying. It is also important to have a thorough understanding of Quality Control so that your efforts of Quality Assurance are applied to maximum effect.
Quality Assurance is a less-traditional denomination of auditing but it requires the same personal attributes as orthodox auditing, including attention to detail and the ability to engage in effective communication. If you are interested in contributing to producing quality products and services for the marketplace then perhaps you should consider Quality Assurance within your audit career.