Food quality Assurance
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Lately, we’ve seen a lot of debate regarding distinguishing quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC). The common distinction is that QA is process-oriented, whereas QC is product-oriented.
This premise is undeniably true, but once a team starts implementing both, it becomes clear that a single distinction between quality assurance vs quality control doesn’t provide enough applicable information.
Comprehensive Foodomics, 2021
QUALITY ASSURANCE IS THE BIGGEST MARKETING TOOL ANY FOOD MANUFACTURER CAN ADOPT. WHEN A PROCESSOR CAN ASSURE THE CONSUMERS THAT THEY WILL CONTINUOUSLY GET HIGH-QUALITY PRODUCTS, THEY (CONSUMERS) BECOME THE GREATEST ASSET FOR THE COMPANY IN TERMS OF BRAND PUBLICITY, WRITE ANIL GUPTA AND ANIL K VERMA
Quality is a measure of the degree of excellence or degree of acceptability by the consumer. It is also defined as the combination of attributes or characteristics of the products that have significance in determining the degree of acceptability of the product to a user. The industry defines quality “as the measure of purity, strength, flavour, colour, size, maturity, workmanship or any other distinctive attribute or characteristics of the product”. According to USDA “quality is the combination of attributes or characteristics of a product that has significance in determining the degree of acceptability of the product to the user”. For the consumers “Quality means wholesomeness, freshness, good nutritional value and good organoleptic (texture, colour, aroma and flavour) properties.
Quality as a consequence of the originality of a product reflects the inherent strength of the product. It is also termed as ‘Spacial Hallmark’ which means the product has something about it which makes it distinct from the similarly placed things. Originality also signifies the essential element of Individuality. The acceptability of produce by the consumers depends on the intensity of individuality that the product carries and which is singularly impressive.
Q stands for QUALITATIVE ORIENTATION
U stands for UNIQUE INNOVATIVE PROGRESS
A stands for ACHIEVING EXCELLENCE/ASSURANCE
L stands for LEARNING ABOUT BEST PROPERTIES
I stand for INTELLIGENT APPLICATION OF MIND TO OVERCOME WEAK AREAS
T stands for TALENT TO MARCH TOWARDS EXCELLENCE
Y stands for YEARNING FOR KNOWLEDGE
Quality, therefore, refers to a general framework that serves to hold all the constituents of the commodity together. So, comprehensively explained and introduced commodity has a point of special importance; respective merits which call for mention with wide and deep knowledge of the commodity to profit by such varied experiences. Generally, quality accounts for the expression of cultured customers of refined society. On the whole, food quality is understood as a severely devotional spirit to launch a new commodity in the consumer’s court. Thoroughly, typical quality gives unique value with wonderfully varied interest in the fondness of the commodity. Everything that for good or evil has
entered into the making of a product has also entered into the texture of that produce, commodity or thing.
The qualitative attribute is a taste change exercise and it reflects the powerful value-added instinct or characteristic of the product. It also signifies genetic makeup or ancestry or assumed perfection, and that channelize a new line of influence. The interest that a particular commodity produces/generates in its consumer acceptability is governed by certain prevailing tastes/attributes, and these tastes/attributes may last for a time only and these tastes/attributes differ enormously from those of every other. These qualitative attributes impart variety to the quality and the quality of acceptability.
Overall, the rated ability of a product, the quality is necessarily moulded by the Culture, Ideals, Mental And Moral Tendencies of the masses to which it has been introduced and therefore overall acceptability to a large extent is determined by these. The product-consumer relationship with particular regard to quality of the produce, howsoever original it may seem to be, is often due to the way it meets or anticipates the general taste of the public to which it appeals.
Quality Assurance in contrast to quality control is the implementation of quality checks and procedures to immediately correct any failure and mistake that is able to reduce the quality of the interim products at every production step. According to the International Standards Organization (ISO 8402 – Terminology), Quality assurance is “all those planned and systematic actions necessary to provide adequate confidence that a product or service will satisfy given requirements for quality.” Quality assurance systems in the food industry are much more extensive in scope than quality control programs.
They include the inspection, testing, and monitoring activities of quality control programs, along with additional activities that are devoted to the prevention of food safety hazards and quality defects. The activities are integrated and interrelated to form a system. Quality assurance systems are intended to provide confidence to a food company’s management, its customers and to government regulatory agencies that the company is capable of meeting the food quality and food safety requirements. These quality systems include documents that describe operations and activities that directly relate to food quality and safety. An example of a quality assurance system is the ISO 9001:1994 quality assurance system standard, which was replaced by the ISO 9001:2000 quality management system standard. In companies that operate with quality management systems, the quality assurance activities are integrated into the quality management systems.
Summary of quality assurance procedures for fruit processing
Quality assurance (QA) is a part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled (ISO 9000:2000). All the planned and systematic activities implemented within a quality system that can be demonstrated to provide confidence a product or service will fulfill requirements for quality. Quality Assurance in contrast to quality control is the implementation of quality checks and procedures to immediately correct any failure and mistake that is able to reduce the quality of the interim products at every production step.
Among quality assurance (QA) systems, GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices), GHPs (Good Hygiene Practices), GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) and HACCP (Hazard Analysis. Critical Control Points), ISO, TQM are the prerequisites (van der Speigel et al., 2003). Integrated Management systems such as ISO 9000, or integrated management systems like ISO 22000:2005 (Food safety management systems) are also accessible for producers. The quality assurance systems can be classified according to the extent of the activities they cover, in:
- basic safety systems: prerequisites (GAPs, GMPs, GLPs, etc.);
- advanced safety systems such as HACCP;
- integrated food safety management – ISO 22000;
- basic quality management systems – ISO 9001;
- advanced quality management systems – ISO 9004.
Basic list of Critical Control Points identified by the quality assurance system
Quality Assurance systems take a much wider view of what is involved in satisfying customers’ needs. The quality assurance system focuses on the prevention of problems and not simply on their cure. Quality assurance (QA) describes and manages the activities of control, evaluation, audits, and regulatory aspects of a food processing system. The program consists of an in-house consulting organization; it evaluates the quality program and gives advice, suggestions, and instructions for its improvement. QA may audit the system and provide assistance in making improvements, but the planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling of the quality program are in the hands of upper and production management.
The divisional quality control staff promotes quality in the division and assists and consults with production as required; the responsibility for the quality of divisional products rests directly with production. Quality assurance can only be operated when staff is well trained and motivated. Workers are normally well aware of the causes of most problems and when quality assurance is used properly they can resolve most quality problems within their control.
NEED FOR FOOD QUALITY ASSURANCE
Customer expectations: Customers have become more demanding and knowledgeable. They are more concerned about the ingredients of the food products and hence maintaining optimum quality standards in the food industry has become very necessary.
Environmental concerns: Nowadays, people are more concerned about the environment and environmental protection laws have become more stringent. Hence, employing environmental friendly methods in the food industry has become necessary. Quality assurance plays a big role in all this.
Organic Foods: There is more demand for organic foods because people have become concerned about the potential adverse effects of chemicals used in farming, on the environment and health. Hence quality monitoring and guarantee ensures that the chemicals are within the specified limits in any food product.
Technology: With the development of technology, various methods for food processing and other food-related activities have emerged. These methods provide safer and higher quality food to the customers. Today all organisations related to food have to ensure good quality systems to compete in the market.
Regulatory requirements: Food being a critical element of life, the regulatory agencies have also put in place stringent requirements for its safety and quality. Quality assurance systems help the food industry to meet these requirements consistently and deliver food that is fit for consumption.
MAJOR FUNCTIONS OF THE QUALITY ASSURANCE
- Compliance with specifications: Legal requirements, industry standards, internal company standards, shelf-life tests, customers’ specifications.
- Test procedures: Testing of raw materials, finished products, in process tests.
- Sampling procedures and schedules: Suitable sampling schedules should be used to maximize the probability of detection while minimizing the workload.
- Record-keeping and reporting procedures: Maintenance of all QA records so that customer complaints and legal problems can be dealt with.
- Troubleshooting: Solution of problems caused by poor quality raw materials, erratic supplies, malfunctioning process equipment; investigation of reasons for a poor quality product to avoid repetition.
- Special problems: Customer complaints, production problems, personnel training etc. A typical QA department may include a chemistry lab, a raw materials inspection lab, a sensory lab, and a microbiology lab for ensuring the quality of food produced and for attracting the consumers.
- Process improvement: An important aspect of the work in manufacturing is to promote the interest of the workers in their jobs. They should be encouraged to observe the operation and to collect information about important process developments that the enterprise could use and may eventually depend upon for success.
- Standards: QA department should develop, review, and implement internal standards and keep track of external standards.
- QA responsibility also includes collecting and analyzing data related to quality. Forming and leading corrective-action teams to make specific improvements, facilitating quality actions of others and evaluating tools, techniques, procedures, standards, etc.
Conclusion and Future Trends for Food Quality Assurance
Food quality assurance and authentication has become one of the most concerned issues worldwide owing to the development of global food market and the demand of the consumers for high quality food with certain properties. But newly emerged food fraud practices and potential food safety risks make it impossible to achieve the goal only with conventional approaches. More novel methods of adulteration detection should be developed and new relationships between endogenous substances samples and quality properties of food should be revealed. Advances in lipidomics have incubated a wide range of analytical approaches for lipid profiling in complex samples. Just as reviewed above, these massive molecular-based approaches exhibit really attractive capabilities for assessment of food adulteration, food safety, quality and traceability. Compared with conventional vibrational spectrum-based approaches, these methods show higher sensitivity and selectivity and provide more descriptors to facilitate better classification.
Food authentication is a multi-disciplinary field, so we believe that with the development in instruments, analytical strategies and chemometric tools, these lipid multi-analyte-based lipidomics approaches will exert greater influence in food authentication and thus resulting in stronger food regulations and registrations.
We share our view on the differences between quality assurance vs quality improvement, common approaches, risks, and similarities.
The key distinction between quality control vs quality assurance
Quality Assurance is focused on the ways that are chosen for development and testing, checking if the team is doing things with the right method.
Quality Control is focused on the end product, its functionality, interface, and performance.
Quality Control analyzes the product and provides the QA team with feedback. The goal of the QA team is to find the underlying problem of why the code issues appear.
Distinguishing between QC and QA helps teams not only to be focused on the well-functioning product but also to maintain best practices within the team. If a QA team does a good job analyzing and fixing processes, the QC team will have fewer issues to deal with in the long-term perspective.
What is quality assurance?
Quality Assurance ensures the absence of deep-rooted issues in the development and testing processes. Testers analyze the defects in the approach to coding and fix them on a long-term basis, relaying feedback to the development team. The goal is not only to remove an issue but also to avoid the same error again.
Quality Assurance is proactive – it aims at preventing issues before they are detected in the product. The team performs audits, keeps track of documentation, communicates with the development team, introduces automation, and code quality tools. The QA team is responsible for refining product requirements and building strategies to fill them out.
So, QA’s priority is to increase the team’s productivity, prevent issues, and optimize the processes. This is done via documentation, planning, audit, and training.
What’s product quality control?
QC is a set of activities that are performed to improve the final product. The goal is to deliver clean code, fast performance, and intuitive user experience. For QC, results matter more than processes. Without QA, QC would only be oriented towards short-term fixes. The quality of work would not improve, and QC team would have to deal with the same bugs on and on.
Without QC, QA would not know what areas that must be improved. The direction the Quality Assurance works in is largely based on the feedback from QC specialists.
Quality Control is a reactive approach, focused on finding already existing defects rather than preventing them. This is done through product testing, checkpoint review, codebase analysis, and practical use cases.
Main differences between quality assurance vs quality control
Before we move on to subtle methodological differences, let’s recap two key distinctions of quality assurance versus quality control.
Progress vs product
- QA is oriented towards improving long-term processes while QC is focused on delivering the best product;
- Fixes done by the QC team are usually short-term but well-visible, whereas the QA team delivers results over time, but they improve the process long-term;
- QC team detects issues with the product and sends them to QA. QA analyzes these errors and determines which internal processes could have become the cause;
- QC is focused on fixing. QA – on optimization.
Proactive vs reactive
- QA team performs audits, code analysis, and teaching sessions to establish best testing and development practices early on in order to prevent actual product issues;
- QA teams are focused on dealing with issues at hand, reacting to problems rather than identifying possible areas;
- QA is focused on establishing long-term methodologies, whereas QC’s main priority is to fix a particular code issue quickly.
- Without QA, the team cannot establish the best testing practices; without QC, they cannot deliver the product according to requirements.
A GUIDE TO BEST PRACTICES FOR FOOD QUALITY ASSURANCE
Quality assurance plays an important role in any industry. It helps companies consistently deliver safe and consistent products to end users, and is therefore essential to business performance. For the food and beverage industry in particular, a commitment to quality is a paramount area of focus, as their end users directly consume the goods and products they produce and package. Of course, there are also various levels of the supply chain in-between, and overlooking quality at any one of these steps could compromise an organization's brand reputation and customer relationships. This guide to best practices for quality assurance provides a framework to for the food manufactuers.
Quality assurance encompasses a broad set of activities to prevent defects proactively. It is an ongoing effort – not a one-time activity – and must therefore be practiced every day to achieve the desired outcomes on an ongoing basis. Here, we take a look at some of the essential quality assurance best practices for the food industry that can be used by companies of all sizes and types of operation.
- Determine Quality Expectations
- Execute Against Expectations
- Achieve Data-Driven Continuous Improvement
Determine Quality Expectations
Every effective quality assurance program is built on a strong set of expectations. In order to implement activities that will be used to achieve consistent products within specifications, you must first define those specifications. Which metrics will guide and determine quality in your facility?
To answer this question, many companies must take a step back and consider the cost of quality. The cost encompasses both the costs of poor quality, including internal and external failure costs, as well as the costs of good quality, which encompass appraisal and prevention costs. In general, it is recommended that costs of poor quality should not exceed 10-15% of revenue in a thriving company. This can work as a solid starting point for constructing an overarching framework of quality expectations: reducing the costs of quality without compromising performance.
In addition to cost considerations, food and beverage companies must proactively establish a strong foundation to address the quality – and safety – of their products. This foundation should encompass quality metrics, identified risks, and mitigation strategies for addressing those risks. Each of these factors is explored in this guide in greater detail below.
Best Practices for Defining Quality Metrics
Quality metrics can come from a number of sources. In some cases, they may be defined by customer requirements. In others, quality certifications like those from the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQF), a GFSI-recognized scheme, may play a role in dictating a facility’s approach to quality parameters.
The success of a quality assurance program depends largely on setting realistic expectations. Product specifications, both internally and from the customer, should be attainable given the resources the facility has available. When a company is confident in their ability to deliver products or materials within their customer’s specifications from the start, their risks of facing quality-related issues are greatly reduced. Suppliers and purchasing companies must therefore be thorough and precise when reviewing contracts to ensure expectations are clear for both parties.
Specifications identified by customers should serve as the starting point for identifying critical quality points in a documented quality process control plan. There is a broad range of quality metrics food companies may track, including temperature, humidity, and pH levels, to name just a few.
The food and beverage industry faces a number of inherent risks. There are also site-specific risks, as well as those associated with certain products. Food products containing allergens, for example, leave facilities vulnerable to an entire host of risks, including cross-contact and labeling issues. To support a strong quality assurance program, companies should perform a detailed risk assessment, analyzing potential risks across all possible areas. After risks are identified, they can be ranked (high, moderate, and low) to form an actionable mitigation plan.
To conduct a thorough risk assessment, companies should evaluate all of the major areas of their food quality systems. Potential areas to analyze could include suppliers, raw materials, crisis management, product recalls, audit management, traceability, allergens, complaints, sanitation, and microbial control. This list is by no means exhaustive, and it is important to perform site-by-site assessments to identify the specific risks present at each location.
Once risks have been identified, companies can establish a Quality Process Control System through which mitigation strategies will be implemented. It can follow a framework similar to that of HACCP methodology: use existing product descriptions and flow charts, performing a Quality Risk Analysis to determine threats and identify Critical Quality Points (CQP)s.
After establishing CQPs, the next steps include identifying procedures for operating limits, monitoring, corrective actions, verification, and record-keeping. This approach mirrors the SQF Food Quality Plan but is focused on CQPs for performance correlated with specifications. With that said, it is not limited for use in GFSI-certified facilities alone, and its benefits can be realized in any food or beverage manufacturing or packaging facility.
Mitigation strategies should be structured to address the highest-level risks proactively. Their purpose is to help you control deviations and achieve proactive defect prevention. Activities should include developing Quality Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and providing effective training for QA teams to satisfy quality demands on an ongoing basis. All policies and procedures should be thoroughly documented for compliance purposes.
Execute Against Expectations
Clear and thorough quality expectations pave the way for effective execution. To achieve quality assurance on an everyday basis, companies use processes like Statistical Process Control (SPC) monitoring, among other activities.
SPC monitoring measures and controls quality by comparing products against pre-established quality parameters. When completed in real-time, SPC monitoring allows QA teams to spot and address deviations promptly, before more products can become affected. This helps to reduce waste, thereby not only controlling quality output but also minimizing reworks, non-conformances, and costs.
In addition to SPC monitoring, tactics such as corrective actions must be implemented for instances in which results fall out of specification. Sampling and grading programs, finished product testing, and pre-shipment reviews are also tactics which can be used – and through modern tools, automated – to control quality.
To learn more about statistical process control — what it is and why it's needed — watch this informative video.
Of course, it isn’t enough to simply perform SPC monitoring or other forms of quality control. To make sure tactics are actually working to improve quality performance, you must collect and analyze relevant data. Traditionally, food and beverage companies performed data collection manually. Paper-based systems and even offline tools like spreadsheets were used to formulate graphs and charts depicting quality performance measures. Recently, however, the industry has seen a shift with the development of quality assurance software. Software provides mobile data tools and real-time analytics, featuring dashboards and up-to-the-moment insights across every shift. This achieves automated data collection and ongoing visibility into quality assurance on an ongoing basis. Learn more about justifying a switch from paper to a Quality Management System here.
In addition to simply collecting data, QA teams must measure relevant information, identifying cause and effect relationships. In doing so, they can draw clear conclusions about bottlenecks in production and across the supply chain. Patterns can be identified not only in quality metrics such as temperature, size, fill level, and other product parameters, but also across broader performance indicators including number of complaints, downtime, and overall equipment effectiveness. Ultimately, it is not just the quality data itself but the meaning derived from it that allows food and beverage facilities to unlock the true business potential behind everyday quality assurance efforts.
Achieve Data-Driven Continuous Improvement
The final – yet critically important – piece of the quality assurance puzzle is using the data generated in operations to drive continuous improvement. This means that in addition to monitoring performance on a shift-by-shift, day-by-day basis, companies should also look at aggregate performance over a long-term basis. Findings can then be used to drive strategic business decision making.
Utilizing the data gathered from operations, you can uncover inefficiencies and recurring issues. Supplier performance and equipment performance, for instance, can shed insights into areas for improvement that could help reduce your costs of quality and rates of on-time customer shipments. Over time, it is also recommended that companies track key metrics such as product defects, waste, and number of corrective actions for a comprehensive overview of performance.
This information can then be used to inform both short- and long-term goals. Using these insights, companies can continually drive success by structuring their priorities around the key quality outcomes that need to be addressed to realize the most significant resource savings and improvements in performance.
Quality assurance is by no means a simple endeavor. Yet, it is an essential component for ongoing success in any business, and especially those within the food and beverage industry. It is not a one-time event; instead, it must be approached as a series of ongoing activities, or a rhythm consisting of routinely revisiting quality expectations by assessing new risks as they arise, defining quality metrics, implementing mitigation strategies, and measuring performance. Once this rhythm is developed and refined, the pattern of ongoing improvement becomes achievable.
Quality assurance versus quality control: additional differences
Both components of Quality management are equally important. However, when it comes to practical implementation, teams have concerns regarding the cooperation between QA and QC. To which extent are the two fields independent? Can one influence the other, and where do the competences of which end and begin? Surely, neither QA nor QC teams would like their workflows to be interrupted, but is full isolation a solution?
QA and QC should cooperate, mainly because:
- It doesn’t matter if the processes are optimized if the end project is not clean;
- It doesn’t matter if the code has been cleaned up if the underlying issues are not solved.
Let’s examine the differences between the two fields to see where the competences of both fields lie.
Scope: quality assurance and quality control
Quality assurance is focused on primary production. The code itself must be clean and developed properly. QC takes into account secondary factors as well – such as hardware differences, various OS, browsers, add-ons, API compatibility, etc.
If we transformed software development into food production, Quality Assurance would be responsible for ensuring that the food is cooked properly. Quality Control would detect if it hasn’t been contaminated by bacteria, chemicals, or gone bad.
Another field that has a scope similar to QA is Quality Improvement. Just like assurance, improvement considers the bigger picture, but at the same time, it also takes action to remove issues. Quality assurance versus quality improvement are different in their methodologies: QA is theoretical, while improvement is action-driven. In a way, it’s a mix of QA and QC. If assurance and control teams collaborate, they work similarly to improvement teams.
QA is performed first, and it sets the foundation for quality verification. QA developers step in the project with a particular Quality Assurance methodology:
- Analyzing the development process and its efficiency via an audit;
- Defining product requirements, metrics, and benchmarks for the product;
- Setting up the list of criteria that a product must respect;
- Defining user expectations, talking to stakeholders, evaluating competitors, and taking insights from them;
- Educating the team on the best testing and development processes.
Learn more about functional vs non-functional requirements to set clear benchmarks for the product.
Quality Control operates with a set of criteria and metrics created by the QA team. The control team is focused on executing the product and pinpointing even the slightest issues. Comparing QA/QC procedures, QC bases its activities on QA’s requirements.
- Executing the program in order to assess its performance and overall code quality;
- Verifying the requirements provided by the QA specialists;
- Using metrics, defined by QA or adding their own;
- Communicating the feedback back to the QA team so that they can incorporate those insights into their long-term practices, optimization, and automation.
Quality Assurance activities are visionary – teams need to think long-term, create strategies, and plan in advance. Quality Control is a more hands-on-deck field that deals with tangible problems in hand.
Timing and duration
Quality Assurance starts at the beginning of the process at the planning stage. When teams create software requirement specification documents and software development plans, the QA team already participates. They are defining product requirements, devising metrics, and defining the best standards.
Quality Control starts at the later development stages once there are ready pieces of functionality. Quality control is the most active when the development is finalized, and the team has access to the full product – in the pre-deployment stage.
QA is a long-term continuous process, oriented at improving the team. QC lasts less – as long as the team has a product to work on. Obviously, it’s quite a subtle difference between quality control and quality assurance, which can change according to the project.
QA goals are long-term, and they are focused on preventing the same code issues from arising. Take a look at some examples.
- Predictability: QA teams aim to minimize the number of unexpected technical issues, building established testing and development systems. Developers should know what time and results they can expect from a particular process.
- Efficiency: QA teams are focused on improving the development and testing speed, automating processes, keeping documentation, and reusable test cases. It can be measured via Points per Sprint or % of functionality covered in a sprint.
- User-driven: Quality assurance wants to deliver customer-centric products that derive directly from user needs. They handle communication with focus groups, potential uses, product owners, stakeholders. QA experts analyze feedback and create improvement strategies.
- Flexibility. The goal of a QA team is to build a set of practices that can fit the needs of any project.
Quality Control has a product-driven goal. Rather than being focused on systems and long-term deliverables, they have software quality objectives in mind.
- Reaching deliverables in every type of testing;
- Making sure that the product works on different devices, OS, in various browsers;
- Examining all most common use cases and seeing the product with the eyes of a user;
- Checking if the result complies with the requirements, devised by QA;
- Documenting all the processes, so QA experts can understand what code issues should be resolved long-term;
- Validating user experience and testing software’s functionality.
QA teams are usually involved in the design and testing process early on and act together with the entire product development team. QA experts need to communicate with the developers, understand the specifics of all product development process stages.
This means being engaged in standups and team meetings early on, constantly communicating with stakeholders, reviewing competitors, etc.
As visionaries, QA needs to have all the information about the company, its needs, market, product requirements, tech stack, and be well aware of the specifics of the development process.
Quality control management and execution are carried out by a testing team. Their responsibility is to clean up after the development stage and notify the QA team.
Measurement and statistics
Both QA and QC rely on tangible statistical methods to measure their work objectively.
- Quality assurance uses statistical process control to measure the efficiency of the testing and development process. Such control is performed with a check sheet, control start, Pareto chart, and stratifications – diagrams that focus on defining multiple aspects of the system and bringing them into a united picture.
- Quality control teams use statistical Quality Control techniques to measure the quality of the end product. They run tests on a determined sample size (a number of features) and measure the performance. In software testing, it’s done with common software testing methods (performance testing, user testing, UI tests, etc).
Both QA and QC strive to make their workflow as measurable as possible. Having clear deliverables makes communication with other teams easier, allows predicting budget expenses, and measuring the team’s efficiency.
Outsourcing and consulting
In software development, it’s common to bring QA and QC experts from an expert outsourcing team. In-house teams don’t always have enough workload for QA and QC specialists that would justify the costs of hiring, onboarding, workspace, etc. Remote audits, consultations, optimization, and cooperation allows cutting organizational costs, getting an expert specialist with years of experience, and receiving a third opinion on the project.
The major advantage of hiring outsourcing QA and QC teams is their versatile approaches to methodologies. They have already devised best practices and can’t be biased by the company’s current workflow.
- Engaging a third-party QA expert is usually done to create a viable QA framework that a team will follow after the cooperation with the outsourcing team has ended. The goal is to create a long-term system, using expert knowledge, and bring the best practices to the team.
- Outsourcing quality control is usually done by engaging an outsourcing testing team. The goal of testers is to examine the product, detect and fix issues, and deliver a functional product. They can bring in their own QA experts for defining product requirements or cooperate with in-house QA experts.
Cooperation between quality assurance and control teams
Although QA and QC are independent units, fully splitting these two processes may lead to three key risks.
A QA specialist will not be able to implement an innovative process without having experience of working with a product. Seeing how adopted methodologies directly impact the software, its performance, and functionality – is a key factor in becoming a QA expert. QA experts should see the tangible results of their work – and clean code is a direct outcome.
Avoiding basic clean-up
Many quality managers prefer quality assurance over quality control because this work is more creative. “Dirty” tasks like refactoring, cleaning up tech debt, fishing out bugs often fall off the priority list. This is why all QA team members should occasionally be involved in QC work or at least cooperate directly.
No bigger picture
We already know the risks that can arise when QA specialists are too detached from the product quality. However, when QC teams only focus on short-term goals without paying attention to processes, they also risk stagnation. It’s important that automation, optimization, performed by QA teams, reaches QC teams, too, improving their workflow.
If QA and QC teams don’t agree on approaches to improve code and processes, the entire team might lose trust. It will poorly impact product quality and teams’ efficiency. Both teams should know how the other one is working and possibly occasionally switch roles – just to understand the issues on the other side.
Building smooth cooperation between QA and QC
QA and QC cooperate in a cycle. The starting point is the QC team – they form product requirements, set criteria, and provide a set of metrics. QC takes over by implementing these frameworks into actual testing. Then QC sends their insights back to QA – now, the assurance team can use the feedback to detect development and testing issues.
Once QA is done with the first interaction of optimization, they communicate the insights to QC. QC comes back to the product, and the cycle continues. This cyclic system is the right approach for combining quality assurance and control – both teams should communicate and exchange insights all the time.
Best practices for QA and QC cooperation
- Both teams should constantly communicate;
- Occasionally QA should work with the product, engaging in QC activities – and vice versa;
- Quality Control teams should take an interest in QA’s initiatives and improvements, being enthusiastic about growth;
- Both teams should keep track of the overall product development process, cooperating with designers, developers, and marketing teams;
- The management boards and communication channels must be both separate and shared. Teams should have individual chats for internal processes and a shared one for reporting, meetings, and solving strategic issues.
Quality Assurance and Quality Control are both indispensable processes in Quality Management. Drawing the distinctions between the two helps to define clearly their scope and priorities. Having separate QA and QC experts brings clarity to the process and allows teams to focus both on short-term and long-term objectives.
However, QA and QC shouldn’t exist entirely separately. The two teams should constantly communicate, exchange experience and insights, participate in shared meetings, and talk to stakeholders. It’s important that the teams are on the same page instead of competing with one another.
Our QA and QC teams work on the same management boards, participate together in meetings, and are always kept in the loop. They regularly communicate with developers, designers, and marketing managers – every member not only sees the bigger picture but also pays attention to details.
Food Safety, Regulatory and Quality Assurance workshops to be offered in Ontario
CPMA has partnered with NSF Canada, a division of NSF International and a global leader in the provision of public health and safety risk-based management solutions, to offer Food Safety, Regulatory and Quality Assurance workshops to CPMA members and non-members, beginning in March. The workshops are specifically targeted toward small, and medium-sized local growers, packers and shippers, however all produce supply chain personnel are welcome and encouraged to attend.
The topics covered in the workshops will include food safety principles, an overview of the current regulatory landscape, the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and an introduction to quality assurance principles.
These engaging workshops will feature interactive exercises, discussions, and opportunities to apply new knowledge gained, including assessing and using the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, where appropriate, to enhance understanding of produce-specific preventive control plan (PCP) requirements.
The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations officially came into force for the produce industry January 15, 2020, and CPMA plans to support ongoing member compliance through these workshops. The first workshop will take place in Toronto, Ontario, with support from the Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) and the Ontario Food Terminal. Subsequent workshop dates in various cities across Canada are to be announced.
CPMA Food Safety, Regulatory and Quality Assurance Workshop will take place over a day and a half, and is scheduled to take place two days: Tuesday March 17th, 2020, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Wednesday March 18th, 2020, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The location of the workshop will be the Market Garden Room in the Ontario Food Terminal, at 165 The Queensway in Etobicoke, ON M8Y 1H8. The fee for the workshop is $25 (+HST) per person.
The CPMA – NSF Canada Workshops are available to CPMA members and non-member companies.
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"We offer companies unique and all-round support in quality assurance and crisis prevention"
Recently formed, InQuality Germany is a collaboration between N&S Quality & Innovative Fresh from The Netherlands, and AFC Risk & Crisis Consult in Germany. These parties combine their competences and their years of international experience in the joint venture, InQuality Germany GmbH.
Added value in the whole supply chain
InQuality Germany advises food companies in strategic and operational support to improve the product quality in the fresh produce sector. The company focuses on identification, the use of optimisation options for quality assurance, and risk management in the whole food chain. The monitoring program, developed by inQuality, is central. This program analyses and evaluates the quality and the taste of products, for example, fruits and vegetables, in an objective and independent manner, and from the point of view of the consumers.
"With extensive monitoring of quality indicators our products will be compared to the products of the competitors and food waste will be reduced, all at the same time", comments Marc van Arendonk, Business Development Manager, InQuality Germany.
The power of together
Established in Bonn, InQuality Germany offers rather well all the services of the various partners. That means high-quality advice, interim services, product control and education from N&S Quality. Innovative Fresh adds expertise in monitoring and research in fresh products. This concept is successful in The Netherlands and Sweden, and will be extended with special crisis management services from our new partner in Germany.
"We are excited to offer companies an unique and all-round support in quality assurance and crisis prevention", said Anselm Elles, Managing Director, AFC Risk & Crisis Consult.
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US: Cisco Martinez named new Quality Assurance Manager at Coastline
Coastline, a grower and shipper of fresh vegetables, is proud to announce that Mr. Cisco Martinez has joined the company as Quality Assurance Manager. Mr. Martinez comes to Coastline with over 30 years of progressively increasing responsibly and experience pertaining to quality assurance of fresh western vegetables. Most recently, Mr. Martinez worked as Quality Assurance Manager at Ocean Mist Farms. While at Ocean Mist Farms, Mr. Martinez was responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring quality assurance programs as well as interacting with key accounts and product development.
At Coastline, Cisco will ensure that Coastline’s products meet the expectations of the marketplace. He will oversee the programs and processes at all stages of product development, from the field to the market. "Excellence in product quality happens day by day. It is a result of fastidious oversight in a way that is measured against the demands of the marketplace. At Coastline, our production team has always focused on product quality and Cisco will focus that aim to ensure that Coastline products exceed the expectations of the market. There will always be room for improvement” says, Cisco.
“We are very excited to welcome Cisco to our team; he will play an instrumental role in helping Coastline build on its reputation of a service and quality oriented company. His industry knowledge, leadership abilities, strong business acumen and track record of success aligns perfectly with our corporate commitment to providing wholesome high quality fresh vegetables. We look forward to even greater improvement under his direction,” says Phil Adrian co-owner of Coastline.
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