Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control

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aqav-0812This is the fifth in a multi-part series from the Association for Quality in Audio Visual Technology (AQAV) and its push for everyone in AV to adopt the AV9000 standard for quality management. Read the first article here, the second articlehere, the third article here and the fourth article here.

Quality is compliance to customer requirements… no easy feat for those who design and install engineered audio visual technology. How does one attain quality?

If the customer buys the system directly from an integrator, then traditionally the system is presented to the customer at the completion of the project. Alternately, if there is a design consultant on board, the consultant may enact a “Consultant Walk-Through,” which checks out the system inventory and operation for compliance with what was specified. In either case, if there are defects, a “punch list” is created. Our industry has called this “Quality Control” (QC).

Other industries are much more stringent. QC is actually a procedure or a set of procedures applied to a product or service that either passes or fails a product or service that does not adhere to a predefined criteria. Until the AV9000 standard came about in 2011, there was no criteria for a completed system.

Few technology mangers have the training for inspections, and a ‘walk through’ falls woefully shy of the inspection skills and calibrated instrumentation necessary to deem a system as compliant with the customer requirements. Worse yet, there are systems that may comply with a specification that actually fall far short of the customer’s expectation of performance. Is there any wonder that more and more customers are frustrated with AV companies?

Quality Assurance (QA) is similar to QC, but with one major distinction. The inspection and measurement processes are applied to each stage of development, not just at the end of a project. In other words, inspection and measurements (or calculations) are applied after a system is designed, again when engineered, yet again when staged in addition to commissioning. The advantage is obvious. When a system is not going to conform, corrective actions are much less costly if made before the system ever gets to the field.

The AV9000 Standard includes checklists for QA at each stage of development. You can get a free copy of the Staging and Commissioning Checklists by requesting one on the aqav.org website. You can also get information on how to get hands-on training to acquire the skills to apply the tests in the checklists.