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Last edited 22 Dec 2020
Quality assurance (QA) is a way of preventing mistakes or defects in manufactured products and avoiding problems when delivering solutions or services to customers; which ISO 9000 defines as "part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled". This defect prevention in quality assurance differs subtly from defect detection and rejection in quality control, and has been referred to as a shift left as it focuses on quality earlier in the process.
Quality assurance comprises administrative and procedural activities implemented in a quality system so that requirements and goals for a product, service or activity will be fulfilled. It is the systematic measurement, comparison with a standard, monitoring of processes and an associated feedback loop that confers error prevention. This can be contrasted with quality control, which is focused on process output.
Two principles included in quality assurance are: "Fit for purpose" (the product should be suitable for the intended purpose); and "right first time" (mistakes should be eliminated). QA includes management of the quality of raw materials, assemblies, products and components, services related to production, and management, production and inspection processes.
Suitable quality is determined by product users, clients or customers, not by society in general. It is not related to cost, and adjectives or descriptors such as "high" and "poor" are not applicable. For example, a low priced product may be viewed as having high quality because it is disposable, whereas another may be viewed as having poor quality because it is not disposable.
The aims of QA are the standardisation and auditing processes to help ensure that products and services meet client expectations, that work is done right the first time, and that a culture of continuous improvements is introduced, all of which give added value to the product and associated benefits to the office in terms of reaping economic gain. A QA system can give structure to and demonstrate compliance with statutory legal requirements, such as CDM and health and safety.
- To demonstrate its ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements
- process + procedure related to running projects and practice
- Can appoint QM consultant
- Office manual
- Knowledge management (CPDs)
- Risk management
- Induction process
- ISO accredited Standards
- Outlines how the firm works
- The company
- HR policies
- The office
- Appointment & project process - filing - quality plan/ review process
 Quality management system requirements
- Small -10: min to have RIBA project quality plan for each project
- Medium 11-50: Reg to use full RIBA project QM+ procedures on all projects
- Large 51+: Fully ISO9001 accredited
The ISO 9000 family addresses various aspects of quality management and contains some of ISO’s best known standards. The standards provide guidance and tools for companies and organizations who want to ensure that their products and services consistently meet customer’s requirements, and that quality is consistently improved.
It should include:
- Office manual - outlines QMS
- Procedures - how will meet requirements
- instructions - how tasks and functions should be performed.
- Meet certain criteria to be accredited externally
- more competitive in the market - seen as reliable, efficient
- helps meet customer needs
- efficient working
- improved operational performance - cut errors, increase profits
- better customer services - win more work
- ensures always improving
- Customer focused - meeting/ exceeding client requirements
- Leadership - clear leadership = clear direction + purpose
- Involvement of all - most efficient way through making all feel part of the process.
- Ensure process approach - Process more effective than all in. focus on small aspects + increasing quality.
- Systematic approach to management - manage multiple processes as a system to increase efficiency
- Continual Improvement - ISO 9001 ensures standards are high, efficient and productive contributing to continual improvement of practice.
- Factual approach to decisions - Base on prior experience and knowledge, more effective
- Mutually beneficial supplier relations - strong relationships can enhance productivity + encourage seamless working practices.
Sections and content:
- Section 1—scope: specifies that the organization needs to meet customer and regulatory requirements and ensure its employees follow its policies and procedures while advancing quality through continual improvement.
- Section 2—normative reference: provides normative references—those that conform to ISO 9000’s related norms—to constitute the terms of ISO 9001.
- Section 3—terms and definitions: defines the terms used in the standard and highlights the differences between the 2000 version and the 1994 version.
- Section 4—quality management system: describes the standard’s general requirements, which encompass all activities from quality manual documentation and control of documents and records to determining the sequence and interaction of the processes to implementing actions to achieve planned results.
- Section 5—management responsibility: requires management’s commitment to the QMS and explains that management must be dedicated to the organization’s products, customers and planning and review processes.
- Section 6—resource management: provides the criteria needed to perform a job competently and in a safe environment. Human resources, infrastructure planning and work environment are discussed in this section.
- Section 7—product realisation: defines the steps in product development. These steps include everything from the initial design phase to the final delivery phase. For example: product realisation planning, customer related processes, design and development, the product purchasing process, production and service provisions and the control of monitoring and measuring devices.
- Section 8—measurement, analysis and improvement: focuses on measuring, analyzing and improving the QMS by having companies perform periodical internal audits, monitor customer satisfaction, control nonconforming product, analyze data and take corrective and preventive actions.
3 fundamental commitments:
- Cost saving + improved profitability
- Improve the environment
- Ensure compliance with legislation
- Reduce the risk of fines for non-compliance
- Brand image + advantage over others when tendering
 Construction Quality Assurance (CQA)
The SuDS Manual published by CIRIA in 2015 defines construction quality assurance (CQA) as: ‘A documented management system designed to provide adequate confidence that items or services meet contractual requirements and will perform adequately in service. CQA usually includes inspection and testing of installed components and recording the results.’
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Concept architectural design checklist.
- Design quality for buildings.
- Design review.
- Design risk management.
- Digital quality management in construction.
- Key performance indicators.
- Independent client advisers.
- Project quality plan.
- Quality control.
- Quality in construction projects.
- Quality management systems (QMS) - beyond the documentation.
- Quality manuals and quality plans.
- Third party accreditation.
- Value management.
 External references
- ISO 9000:2005, Clause 3.2.11.
- Larry, Smith (2001). "Shift-Left Testing".
- ASQ Definition.
- The Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) endorses this definition as part of its ongoing Common Language in Marketing Project.
- ASQ – History of Quality. Accessed 17 November 2014.
- Evans, James R. (1994) Introduction to Statistical Process Control, Fundamentals of Statistical Process Control, pp 1–13.
- Statistical Process Control (SPC) – ASQ.
- Thareja, Mannu; Thareja, Priyavrat (February 2007). "The Quality Brilliance Through Brilliant People". Quality World 4 (2). Retrieved 2010-01-11.
- "Managing Quality Across the Enterprise: Enterprise Quality Management Solution for Medical Device Companies". Sparta Systems. 2015-02-02.
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