Quality Assurance vs Quality Control for the PMP Exam

Difference Between Quality Assurance and Quality Control For the PMP® Exam

In project management, “quality” refers to meeting or exceeding the expectations you establish with your client. If your deliverables meet or exceed expectations, they are high quality. If they don’t, they are low quality.

As a potential PMP credential holder, you will need to understand the difference between quality control and quality assurance for both the PMP exam and real-world project management. These processes are closely related and can be difficult to distinguish. Your experts at Project Management Academy have created this guide to help you understand their differences.

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What is Quality Assurance?

First, let’s look at how PMI defines quality assurance (QA):

“The managerial processes that determine the organization, design, objectives, and resources, and that provide the project team, client, and shareholders with performance standards
and feedback on the project’s performance.”

Careful planning and review help prevent defects. Quality assurance emphasizes prevention over the inspection and Do It Right the First Time (DIRFT), meaning deliverables should be error-free from the start because it’s more costly to fix mistakes than to prevent them. This involves:

  • Identifying and understanding requirements and expectations
  • Developing a plan to meet requirements and expectations
  • Implementing training, audits, and more to meet or exceed standards
  • Using Quality Control feedback to improve processes and prevent future errors

Quality assurance guarantees you meet or exceed standards and expectations in every stage of your project and its deliverables. It is proactive, preventative, and crucial to your project’s success.

What is Quality Control?

Here’s how PMI defines quality control (QC):

“The technical processes that examine, analyze, and report the project’s progress and conformance with performance requirements.”

QC deals with identifying defects or mistakes in project deliverables to ensure everything the project team produces meets or exceeds requirements and expectations, including:

  • Measuring results of ongoing project activities to identify and correct errors
  • Checking for defects or errors in project deliverables
  • Verifying the amount and quality of the final products
  • Providing recommendations to correct and prevent future errors through QA

QC is reactive but takes place throughout the whole project. You will need to monitor project activities and deliverables as they are produced to ensure their correctness.

What do you need to know for the PMP exam?

Quality assurance and quality control are closely related to project management processes. QC receives input from quality assurance to measure the quality of deliverables and QA receives feedback from quality control to improve methods and prevent future errors. Learn more about the difference between QA and QC for the PMP exam:

Quality Assurance vs. Quality Control Differences

QA and QC are closely linked so your team can strive for high-quality deliverables and continuous improvement in project processes. However, they are not interchangeable! Here are some key differences to help you distinguish between the two:

They have different objectives.

  • QA deals with preventing defects. Strive for perfect execution and process improvement to prevent defects in your deliverables.
  • QC is about identifying defects. Measure, test, and monitor to find errors quickly and correct them or verify the quality of your deliverables.

They focus on different aspects of the project.

  • QA focuses on how deliverables are being created and what steps you can take to ensure they match established expectations.
  • QC looks at the deliverables themselves. Do deliverables match established expectations? If not, what can be done to correct them or prevent future mistakes?

They occur at different times during the project.

  • Quality assurance and quality control are both ongoing. However…
  • QA is proactive, dealing with the plan you execute before and during your work to create deliverables.
  • QC is reactive, taking place after work has already been done to evaluate the success of any outputs or deliverables.

While quality assurance and quality control have some differences, they are complementary and beneficial to your project from kickoff to completion.

Benefits of quality assurance and quality control

QA and QC have many benefits for you, your team, and your clients:

  • Eliminate waste. Operate more efficiently and create high-quality, unflawed deliverables.
  • Make clients happy. Meet or exceed your client’s expectations and establish a reputation for customer satisfaction.
  • Save money. Reduce or eliminate the need for re-dos or follow-up support due to imperfect deliverables.
  • Motivate your team. Prevent frustration from mistakes and encourage confidence in your team.

In many ways, QA and QC are codependent for project success. Let’s look at examples of how they interact.

Quality control vs. quality assurance examples

Suppose you are working on a software development project. QA includes developing standardized pieces of code and quality control involves testing the code after it’s written. If any mistakes are found in the code during QC, providing feedback to QA will ensure the code is updated to prevent future errors.

In another example, your project may be creating products on an assembly line. Perform quality assurance by developing a plan, creating the assembly line, and training workers along the line. Quality control begins when the first product is created: checking for defects, logging mistakes, and rejecting any products not up to standard.

Example test questions

Are you ready to practice your understanding of quality control vs. quality assurance for the PMP exam? Test your knowledge with these example PMP exam questions. Answers below.

Your project management plan determines that you will have a budget for appraisal costs.  You are performing quality control for one portion of your project deliverables.  Which of the following tools will be most important here?AuditProcess analysisCost of QualityInspection
You are analyzing your project schedule and realize you have failed to include quality assurance activities.  You know quality assurance is an important component of project management, and you want to make sure there are appropriate tasks inserted into the schedule. You decide that you will work with your stakeholders to define and schedule these activities.  At which point(s) in the project should these activities be conducted?At the starting of the planning phaseAt regular intervals throughout the project life cycleIn the executing phaseUpon closure of the project

Studying for the PMP Exam?

1. D: Control Quality requires an inspection of the work results. While quality is planned into a project, inspections ensure the quality requirements were met.

2. B: Manage Quality (or Quality Assurance) activities should be performed throughout the project life cycle.

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Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO