Product Partners personnel have been developing and implementing software quality assurance programs in compliance with various standards for over 15 years. We have implemented programs within the nuclear, pharmaceutical, and medical industries. We can help you develop and implement your software quality assurance program or we can conform our development efforts to your existing QA program.

WHAT IS QUALITY ASSURANCE/QUALITY CONTROL (QA/QC)?
Quality Assurance/Quality Control is the process of ensuring that a product meets the required quality objectives.

WHAT IS QUALITY CONTROL?
Quality control is techniques and activities that are used to measure and ensure quality.

For example, a quality control technique for checking the quality of the result of the addition of several numbers is to add the numbers a second time and compare the results. Another technique for checking the quality of the result of the addition of those numbers is to add from top to bottom one time and from bottom to top the second time and then compare the results.

QUALITY ASSURANCE
Quality assurance is the process and procedures that provide confidence that a given level of quality has been or will be attained. Quality assurance answers the question "How do I know that an adequate level of quality has been or will be obtained?"

For example, the quality assurance plan for the addition of several numbers might require that the quality control technique of adding the numbers two times, once from top to bottom, and once from bottom to top, and the comparing of the two results be performed. The plan might also require that the results of the test be logged in order to document that the required quality control activities occurred.

CAN YOU HAVE QUALITY WITHOUT QUALITY ASSURANCE?
Yes, but it is difficult to achieve. Quality assurance is the formalized application of quality control techniques to ensure quality. Artisans often apply their own quality control activities to their projects. As a project gets bigger and more people are involved, it becomes increasingly difficult to ensure quality without adopting formalized plans, procedures, inspections, and reporting of the quality control activities.

HOW MUCH DOES A QUALITY ASSURANCE PROGRAM COST?
An improperly implemented quality assurance program is enormously expensive. Not having a quality assurance program can be just as expensive. Quality assurance is not a program to be tacked on to the side of a project; rather it is a process to ensure that a project stays on track and meets its objectives!

WHAT ARE COMMON PITFALLS IN DEVELOPING A QUALITY ASSURANCE PROGRAM?
The biggest impedance to a successful quality assurance program is a QA program that is over specified and overly complicated. Initially employees will diligently attempt to implement the process. Over time people will begin to "short circuit" the process and eventually the QA program will be ignored.

A second major pitfall to a successful quality assurance program is not providing the necessary procedures, tools, and support to implement the program. Frustration results when an employee attempts to comply with the program but fails due to lack of training, procedures, and tools. Eventually the QA program ends up being ignored.

WHAT ARE COMMON COMPONENTS OF A SOFTWARE QUALITY ASSURANCE PROGRAM?
A quality assurance program consists of three components: planning, inspecting, and reporting. Quality assurance planning establishes what activities are to be performed and what criteria determines success or failure for the activity. Inspecting is the quality control. Quality assurance reporting provides the documentation that the required quality control activities have taken place, as well as the results of those activities.

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