QA or QC, What do you do?
I define Quality Assurance as the practice of assuring a high quality product through continuous improvement to the process used to create the product.
I define Quality Control as the practice of performing activities that verify the quality of a product, and that uncover defects where the product does not meet the standards of quality.
Coming from a previous company where the two terms were completely separate and well defined, I guess I am more sensitive to and surprised at how interchangeably "QA" and "QC" are used in casual conversation, blog posts, and even formal papers, articles, and books. This is especially true in testers describing what they do as "QA" when pure testing as defined above should almost always be classified as a Quality Control activity. Being a tester then, I am naturally curious as to why this "defect" in our conversations exists (If your definition of a defect includes ambiguity :).
I have determined the following 4 possible causes for this "defect":
1.Testers who use "QA" to define what they do, do not understand the difference between quality assurance and quality control
2.Testers who use "QA" to define what they do actually include quality assurance process improvments in their day to day activities, and are therefore correct in classifying themselves as QA. However, I would not agree that this applies to the quality control activity of actual testing.
3.Testers who use "QA" to define what they do, work for a company that does not know the difference and calls their activities QA, therefore they have been worn down into using the wrong term as well.
4. Testers who use "QA" to define what they do, know the difference but just do not care to make the distinction, or are still under the effects of a previous cause 3.
5. The tester's company does not employ any formal process improvement at all, so the Quality Control activities literaly are the only source of process improvement by pointing out defects in what is produced.
So to anyone reading this post, into which discipline do you place your everyday work activities, QA, QC, or both? What are your reasons? Do any other testers come from a company with separate, distinct roles for both?