Quality Engineering vs. Quality Assurance: A Comparison

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many companies establish procedures to examine the quality of their products before delivering them to clients to ensure that they meet certain standards. Quality assurance teams have long been the standard for software development and quality engineering methods are becoming more popular in many workplaces. Understanding the differences between the two can help you decide which you want to engage with. In this article, we examine the differences between quality engineering and quality assurance and explain how each helps create better products for customers.

Quality engineering vs. quality assurance

When comparing quality engineering vs. quality assurance to evaluate which is a better fit for a product development process, keep in mind that both ideas can be effective and their success may vary from situation to situation. Quality assurance (QA) is a popular approach for businesses to control product quality prior to delivery. This is especially true for technology companies that hire quality assurance experts to oversee the last phases of manufacturing.

Quality engineering (QE) is a modern concept that tries to incorporate quality inspections throughout the manufacturing process, rather than at the end. It promotes the development of high-quality products and processes. Knowing your team, their requirements and the demands of your clients can assist you in determining if a QA or QE approach might be more beneficial to your production and delivery goals.

Related: What Does a QA Do and What Are the Steps to Become One?

What is quality engineering?

Quality engineering is the practice of performing quality checks on a product in various phases of its production. This typically involves each member of a development team testing the product during their work on the project. For example, before moving a piece of software to the next stage of development, software engineers can test it out.

This allows employees to address issues as they arise rather than waiting until the end of a project to address all issues. It also enhances productivity by motivating all team members to work meticulously, since they're directly accountable for the project's success at every stage of production.

What is quality assurance?

Quality assurance is when skilled QA professionals inspect products to verify if it satisfies specific requirements before launching to an audience. After a QA specialist or their team completes a quality check, they report the results to the production team and ask for revisions that can assist in improving the product's quality and appeal. QA processes guarantee that a product is ready to deliver to clients, and professionals usually decide this using a checklist or rubric as a reference.

When you have a short production cycle and a small team working on a project, methods that delay quality checks until the final stages of the product development process might be effective. In this scenario, the QA team may not request modifications from many teams. They quickly review a product and submit it back to a single development team.

Read more: What Is Quality Assurance? (With Skills and Job Prospects)

Key points of comparison between quality engineering and quality assurance

Quality engineering and quality assurance are terms that some employers may use interchangeably. Although quality assurance and quality engineering are similar in scope, emphasis and approach, they're not exactly the same. Examine the following differences between quality engineering and quality assurance to better understand how these concepts differ from each other:

Team involvement

Different teams may approach QE and QA in different ways. QE causes integration with the entire production process, whereas QA just causes a single point of quality checks. When you use QE for development, your production team takes part in the quality assurance process regularly. Employees at all levels often review their own work to ensure that each aspect of a product they work on is successful at the stage of development at which they engage with it.

QA requires the creation of a specialised team dedicated to assessing the quality of a product throughout its final phases of production. After your team has completed their job, quality assurance professionals can inspect the final product to see if it fulfils company standards and customer demands. With a QA procedure, a development team may only engage in the product's design and the correction of errors that the QA team discovers. Production teams may not involve themselves in the actual quality checks.

Purpose

The goal of each of these quality-control methods differs, too, with QE attempting to integrate quality checks into every stage of manufacturing and QA ensuring the quality of a product before delivery. Setting up QE procedures for your development team lets team members evaluate the quality of their work as they go, which may help speed up the production process and avoid costly redesigns while also saving time.

When you engage a QA team to evaluate the quality of a product, it allows the development team to focus on their own duties while quality assurance specialists examine the product's status. A specialised QA team may uncover errors and flaws in items that developers may have overlooked, allowing the production team to address the issues before launching the product to clients.

Related: What Does a QA Manager Do? (With Key Skills and FAQs)

Starting point

Each type of quality control procedure necessitates inspecting a product at various stages of its production. The production of the product, in which a team completes the initial stages of development and examines the outcomes, is the starting point for quality checks using QE. Throughout the development phase, QE continues to ensure that the product fulfils company and consumer standards. As a result, QE becomes a continuous process with an early starting point in the production timeline. QA workflows happen after production but before rollout.

Specificity

QE may require a production team to examine each individual part of a product and how it functions at each stage of development. QA professionals often examine the overall operation of the final product. The precision of QE methods pushes the production team to evaluate and test each component of a product as they finish it. Because the individuals assessing the work are also the ones who produced it, they can evaluate how the product actually works and rate its quality.

QA experts seldom evaluate each particular stage of production or the individual work of employees. Instead, they analyse a finished product using a set of metrics. For example, they might make sure that all of a product's specific features operate well, but they're unlikely to look at the precise levels of those features until there's an issue to fix.

Flexibility

When compared to QA processes, QE allows development teams to operate with greater flexibility. Since it involves quality checks at various points during production, QE allows production teams to adjust the product's design or features throughout development rather than at the end. Developers can quickly learn about a problem and rectify it or alter the course of production without having to fix everything afterwards. This is particularly beneficial for complex projects with a large number of features that may require modifications.

QA is usually less flexible since it requires the development team to finish a product and then go back to making requested changes afterwards. QA methods are beneficial for goods with quick manufacturing cycles and few development phases, even if there is less flexibility in altering and upgrading a product. The reduced flexibility helps developers to concentrate on their objectives and rely on the QA team's expert judgement on a product.

Time

QE typically reduces production time even though each developer might spend more time running tests on their part of a product. Developers who verify the quality of their product may address problems as they arise and guarantee that the product functions smoothly from start to finish. Projects employing QE might take less time than those using QA to check quality, since developers can fix issues on their own and are usually very familiar with the work the production team does.

QA projects may take longer, as developers may rebuild the entire product or look for a select point where an issue occurs before sending the item back to the development team. When QA professionals discover a mistake close to the end of production, developers might go back and correct it, which takes far longer than if they solved the problem right away. This slows down production even further if a single issue generates other errors across multiple stages of production.

Explore more articles