author image

By Denis G.

3 minutes

Quality Control vs. Quality Assurance

The terms Quality Control and Quality Assurance are distinct topics but they are often misunderstood by program and project managers. When embarking on a project you should understand both the quality control and quality assurance processes involved.

Quality Control Defined

Quality Control (QC) refers to the specific quality activities which are performed during the creation of the deliverables, to ensure that those deliverables are correct and complete, according to a defined quality criteria or the expectations of the customer. Examples of Quality Control activities include unit testing and peer reviews.

Quality Assurance Defined

Quality Assurance (QA) refers to the process or set of procedures designed to ensure the deliverables meet their requirements. You can think of Quality Control happening as the deliverable is produced, while Quality Assurance starts before any deliverable is created. If your project was to be audited, the auditor will probably not be able to tell if the deliverables are at the right quality level (QC), but they will be able to see if the deliverable should be acceptable based on the processes used to create it (QA).

The concept of Quality Management came into existance around the time of the industrial revolution in the 19th century. Before this time quality was a matter of pride for those craftsmen creating products. Whilst the industrial revolution certainly led to improved output and efficiency, much of the pride associated with peoples work was lost because the work was seen as drudgery.

QC vs. QA Example

If the descriptions above are a little too academic for you, then here’s an example that should make everything clear. Suppose you’re managing a project and you want budgetary approval to proceed with your plans for the next stage of the project. How is your steering group to know that the plans are accurate and contain the correct requirements specified to the right level of detail?

One method is to review your plans in detail. This would effectively be quality control as they would be checking your deliverables. However, in our example we’re going to assume that the plan is complex, the requirements are many, and the steering group just doesn’t have the time or detailed knowledge necessary to work through and understand the plan.

Given this, how can the steering group possibly give your project budgetary approval to proceed to the next stage? Well, if they asked you how you built and validated your plan, and you we’re able to show that you followed your organization’s official plan creation process, and that all stakeholders had signed off the plan as acceptable, then the steering board might be assured (QA) that you had indeed produced a sensible plan.


Quality Control and Quality Assurance are terms which are often misunderstood by project managers, amongst others. A simple way to remember the difference is that Quality Control checks the deliverables themselves, whilst Quality Assurance concentrates on the processes used to create those deliverables.

Cite this article

Minute Tools Content Team, Quality Control vs. Quality Assurance, Minute Tools, Nov, 2010,
Click to copy
author image

Denis G.

Originally hailing from Dublin, Denis has always been interested in all things business and started EPM in 2009. Before EPM, Denis held a leadership position at Nokia, owned a sports statistics business, and was a member of the PMI's (Project Management Institute’s) Global Executive Council for two years. Denis now spends his days helping others understand complex business topics.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

cta image

In our course you will learn how to:

This 5-week course will teach you everything you need to know to set up and then scale a small, part-time business that will be profitable regardless of what’s happening in the economy.

So if you’ve always wanted to be your own boss and have the flexibility and freedom that entails, then…

Do your future self a favor and check out our course designed to help you achieve exactly that.

Learn more about our course