Quality Assurance meets Quality Control ?

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By Robin F. Goldsmith

Students and clients often ask what the difference is between Software Quality Assurance, Software Quality Control and Software Testing. The classic distinction is that Quality Assurance (QA) addresses the processes that produce software, whereas Quality Control (QC) deals with the products of those processes. Testing is the primary method of QC for software.

That said, these definitions routinely are interpreted in a variety of ways that often are inconsistent at best. For example, most "QA" software groups actually only do testing.

For those relatively few QA groups that are not just doing testing, probably the most common distinction organizations make is that QA reviews requirements and/or designs whereas QC/Testing executes the developed software programs.

It should be evident that this definition of QA as reviewing requirements/designs does not actually address the software process. Review is a form of static testing, albeit typically of intermediate development products earlier in the software process. Executing code is dynamic testing of the end product of software development. QA vs. QC distinctions based on what is tested blur further when it’s the code itself that is reviewed.

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