What is quality assurance?
..And why is quality assurance so important?
Whether you are building cars, bicycles, cameras, cabinets or entire houses: having insight into where things go right or wrong is always important if you want to deliver top quality. Quality assurance is therefore an aspect that recurs in almost every process. But what is quality assurance and why is it important? Read on to find out!
The definition of quality assurance
Quality assurance refers to the set of measures, policies and best practices needed to meet key quality and regulatory objectives. Planning, implementing and correcting are activities that are part of the process called quality assurance.
How does quality assurance work?
Quality assurance is mainly about recording findings. Think, for example, of quality checks in the building industry that look at the properties and durability of the building materials used or the sturdiness of a construction. Or the inspection of equipment, pipelines and insulation materials when constructing a nuclear plant. The required measures and quality standards are laid down in a quality programme.
Quality assurance in the construction industry
The construction industry is one of the sectors in which quality assurance plays an enormously important role. Quality assurance in the construction industry focuses on monitoring the quality of design and execution in such a way, that the end result meets the set requirements.
Why is quality assurance important?
Quality assurance is an important process for several reasons. Here are the most important ones:
- Good quality assurance ensures that risks are identified earlier. This increases safety and reduces the risk of high failure costs.
- By applying quality assurance, you make a good assessment of the quality risks at an early stage. By sharing these with other parties (contractors, subcontractors, supervisors), you show that you are thinking about a project and have your own documentation in order.
- You create trust with customers and partners. You show that you know the laws and regulations and your technical knowledge. Moreover, good quality assurance ensures transparency because you link expectations to communicating about quality topics in advance.
- You know for sure that you are complying with all the important legal requirements for building quality.
How do you organise the assurance process?
Overview and insight are the two most important pillars of quality assurance. All your data and findings must be easy to find (and ideally in real time), traceable and adaptable in a central data hub. Nowadays, this means working completely digitally. Instead of sifting through thick volumes of paperwork, people in the office and on site can access all relevant information on their desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet.
With a good document and information management system, you always know where your files are, while the right labels and metadata make it easy to do a quick scan of the content. Do you properly record what you do? Then you will eventually start to structurally recognise patterns within processes, making it easier to make improvements where things sometimes, or often, go wrong. At the same time, you identify what is going well and where you can continue as before.
Good quality assurance ensures that you continuously monitor the quality of projects, processes and activities.
But that is not all. Good quality assurance mainly ensures honest insight into and a good overview of your working methods, by managing data in a central environment. In this way, you quickly know what is going well and what is not. But you also give your employees and the various parties involved in a project the tools they need to work together better and more easily. Delivering demonstrable quality that makes everyone happy: that is what you ultimately strive for and what you achieve with a good system and platform for quality assurance.
Read the next article: “What is CDE (Common Data Environment)?“