2 Knowledge of how the product or service is intended to be supplied. (This may be
gained from the supplier’s proposal or offer.)
3 Knowledge that the declared intentions will satisfy customer requirements if met. (This
may be gained from personal assessment or reliance on independent certifications.)
4 Knowledge that the declared intentions are actually being followed. (This may be
gained by personal assessment or reliance on independent audits.)
5 Knowledge that the products and services meet the specified requirements. (This
may be gained by personal assessment or reliance on independent audits.)
You can gain an assurance of quality by testing the product or service against prescribed
standards to establish its capability to meet them. However, this only gives confidence
in the specific product or service purchased and not in its continuity or consistency dur-
ing subsequent supply. Another way is to assess the organization that supplies the prod-
ucts or services against prescribed standards to establish its capability to produce products
of a certain standard. This approach may provide assurance of continuity and consist-
ency of supply.
Quality assurance activities do not control quality, they establish the extent to which
quality will be, is being or has been controlled. All quality assurance activities are post-
event activities and off-line, and serve to build confidence in results, in claims, in predic-
tions, etc. If a person tells you they will do a certain job for a certain price in a certain
time, can you trust them or will they be late, overspent and under specification? The only
way to find out is to gain confidence in their operations and that is what quality assur-
ance activities are designed to do. Quite often, the means to provide the assurance need
to be built into the process, such as creating records, documenting plans, documenting
specifications, reporting reviews, etc. Such documents and activities also serve to control
quality as well as assure it. ISO/TS 16949 provides a basis for obtaining an assurance of
quality, if you are the customer, and a basis for controlling quality, if you are the supplier.
Quality assurance is often perceived as the means to prevent problems but this is not
consistent with the definition in ISO 9000. In one case the misconception arises due to
people limiting their perception of quality control to control after the event; not appre-
ciating that you can control an outcome before the event by installing mechanisms to
prevent failure, such as automation, error-proofing and failure prediction.
In another case, the misconception arises due to the label attached to the ISO 9000
series of standards. They are sometimes known as the quality assurance standards
when in fact, as a family of standards, they are quality management system standards.
The requirements within the standards do aim to prevent problems, and consequently
the standard is associated with the term quality assurance. ISO/TS 16949 is designed
for use in assuring customers that suppliers have the capability of meeting their require-
ments. It is true that by installing a quality management system, you will gain an assurance
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