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What is Quality Assurance all about?

In all my long years of experience, I found that most people think Quality Assurance deals with products, specifications and their parameters, or requirements. Various management members often hold the conviction that it is Quality Assurance department which is responsible for the quality of their products, whereas they do not fulfill these specifications.聽But is that really so?

My experience teaches me that it is not.

So what is Quality Assurance about?

Quality Assurance is not at all a technical discipline. And those who think I am mistaken 鈥 it is enough to remind yourselves that the ISO 9001 is an organizational standard, universally applicable for all and any industry or service, and therefore, by definition, cannot be technical. There are no standards, no industry or field requirements even mentioned at all in the Quality Management standard. Thus, what we do is not about products or parameters, not about standards, not about instructions…

Illustration: people and processes
Illustration: Frustration with a paper

If the above argument is not enough, I shall raise the following point: think about some frustration you had to deal with in your Quality Assurance work. Were you angry with parameters or products? papers or documents? perhaps specifications or standards?

Of course not. Any frustration you have ever had was always with… a person or a group of people.

Alright, not technical. So what is it about?

At least half of what constitutes Quality Assurance is working with people. First the people, and only then the processes they are creating. Again, not the technological processes, but the organizational ones.

Whether or not the products fulfill specification requirements is but a result of the processes the people engage in. It is clear therefore, that when people are connected and committed, and processes are well organized good results will follow. And if not… well, you know what happens then, don’t you?

It is where the last component comes in, which is problem-solving methodology.

Top picture: fragment of a work by the surrealist artist聽Maurits Cornelis Escher from Holland, “Ascending and Descending”, 1960. You may view his work at his official website.

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