Ever noticed how you know when you’ve entered fully into a group, you often get a whole new set of acronyms that only mean something to your group of people/organisation? And how some acronyms now mean something different to your new group/organisation?
For example, if you work in the UK Healthcare sector, you quickly learn that the CQC is an organisation to be reckoned with as they have the power to shut your facility down if you don’t meet their standards. If you work in the construction sector then the CQC can just mean construction quality control.
However, once you have been exposed to the 3 main quality acronyms, they transfer across organisations, sectors and groups. People tend to know what you’re talking about, roughly, even if they don’t know the difference between them.
So what is the difference between QC, QA and QMS? It doesn’t look like it should be very different but they are.
I find it easier to think of them as stages in a process.
QC is the “quality check” and usually requires someone to look over the product (usually) and check it meets the standard(s) required at that stage before it goes onto the next stage.
The QA is then the group of QC’s that assures the company, supplier or customer, that the product is what it says it is or “does what it says on the tin”. In other words, audit(s) – the checking part of the “Plan, Do, Check, Act” cycle.
And the QMS is the whole process; the management system or the way of doing things, from beginning to end that ensures efficiency, consistency, and continual improvement for greater profitability and customer retention.
However, they are all interlinked. Without the QC stage you are unlikely to have any reliable form of QA, and without the QA your QMS won’t help your business deliver its objectives. It shouldn’t be seen as separate to your business processes but an integral part of it, whether you have a quality manager or a quality department or not. Someone (or something!) needs to take ownership of the checking process with a simple way of highlighting and dealing with any anomalies. There’s no point in having a check in place if you don’t decide what will happen if the check shows up a problem…
So, what are these 3 acronyms: very important interlinked processes that help you ensure you have a means to deliver a consistently high standard of product/service. And every business wants that, don’t they?!
Next time: “Having to repeat yourself to your staff? It’s time for some accountable training!”