External quality assurance
External quality assurance (EQA) is an independent review of a project or process to verify that it meets the standards of a given quality management system. It is carried out through verification, analysis and comparison of the project outputs and processes against the required quality standards. EQA is an important part of a quality management system and helps to identify improvement areas, identify and reduce errors, and ensure that the desired outcomes are achieved.
Example of external quality assurance
- An example of external quality assurance is the accreditation process. Accreditation is a process by which an external body evaluates an organization to ensure that it meets certain standards. Accreditation is often required for organizations to receive government funding and to be recognized as a legitimate provider of services. The accreditation process typically involves an independent assessment of an organization's policies, procedures, and practices to determine if they meet a set of predetermined criteria.
- Another example of external quality assurance is the ISO 9001 certification process. ISO 9001 is a quality management system standard which is used to help organizations develop and maintain a quality management system. The certification process involves an external auditor evaluating an organization's quality management system to ensure it meets the requirements of the ISO 9001 standard.
- A third example of external quality assurance is a third-party audit. In this process, an external auditor is hired to evaluate an organization's processes and procedures in order to identify areas of improvement. A third-party audit is often used by organizations to ensure that they are meeting their own internal standards as well as external standards such as those set by regulatory bodies.
Best practices of external quality assurance
- Establish Quality Objectives: Quality objectives should be established for the project that are measurable, achievable, and relevant to the project. These objectives should be set with the customer’s expectations in mind and should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are met.
- Develop a Quality Plan: A quality plan should be created to outline the procedures for quality assurance and control for the project. This plan should include the processes, tools and techniques that will be used to ensure the quality of the project.
- Implement Quality Assurance Processes: Quality assurance processes should be established and implemented to ensure that the quality objectives are achieved. These processes should be documented and communicated to all stakeholders.
- Monitor Quality Performance: Quality performance should be monitored regularly to ensure that the quality objectives are being met. This should include regular inspections, audits and reviews.
- Review Quality Performance: Quality performance should be reviewed regularly to identify areas for improvement. This review should include assessing the effectiveness of the quality assurance processes, identifying areas for improvement and developing corrective action plans.
- Provide Feedback and Communicate: Feedback should be provided to all stakeholders on the project’s quality performance and any improvements that have been made. Communication should also be maintained with the customer to ensure that their expectations are being met.
When to use external quality assurance
External quality assurance can be used in many different applications. It can be used to ensure that a project has been completed to the specified standards, check for compliance with applicable regulations, and assess the quality of products and services. It can also be used to identify areas of improvement, reduce errors and improve customer satisfaction. Some of the specific applications of external quality assurance include:
- Verifying that processes, products and services meet the required standards and comply with applicable regulations.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of quality control measures and procedures.
- Assessing customer satisfaction with the quality of products and services.
- Identifying areas of improvement, such as reducing errors and ensuring customer requirements are met.
- Monitoring processes and products to ensure they remain in compliance with applicable standards.
- Providing assurance that the quality management system is being effectively implemented.
Types of external quality assurance
External quality assurance is an important part of a quality management system and helps to identify improvement areas, identify and reduce errors, and ensure that the desired outcomes are achieved. Here are some types of external quality assurance:
- Quality audits - These are conducted by external auditors to assess whether the quality management system is being implemented and maintained as per the standard requirements. It also helps to identify any areas of non-conformance and suggest corrective actions.
- Quality reviews - These are conducted by external experts to review the quality of the product or service being provided. It helps to identify any areas of improvement and suggest corrective actions.
- Process benchmarking - This is a method of comparing an organization’s processes with industry standards or the best practices of other organizations. It helps to identify any areas of improvement and suggest corrective actions.
- Quality control inspections - These are conducted to verify that the product or service complies with the specified quality standards. It helps to identify any areas of non-conformance and suggest corrective actions.
- Performance evaluation - This is a method of measuring an organization’s performance against the required quality standards. It helps to identify any areas of improvement and suggest corrective actions.
Steps of external quality assurance
External quality assurance (EQA) is an important part of a quality management system and helps to identify improvement areas, identify and reduce errors, and ensure that the desired outcomes are achieved. The steps of external quality assurance are:
- Identification of quality standards - The first step is to identify the quality standards against which the project or process should be assessed. This will involve determining the applicable regulations and standards, as well as considering any internal quality policies that may be applicable.
- Evaluation of current performance - The second step of EQA is to evaluate the current performance of the project or process against the identified quality standards. This involves gathering data, analyzing it, and comparing it against the set standards.
- Development of improvement plans - The third step is to develop improvement plans, based on the evaluation of the current performance. This may involve changes to processes, procedures, and systems to ensure that the project or process meets the desired quality standards.
- Monitoring of improvement plans - The fourth step is to monitor the implementation of improvement plans to ensure that the desired outcomes are achieved. This may involve regular review meetings and regular reporting of performance data.
- Final assessment - The fifth and final step is to carry out a final assessment of the project or process against the identified quality standards. This will involve verifying that the desired outcomes have been achieved and that the project or process is meeting the established quality standards.
Advantages of external quality assurance
External quality assurance (EQA) is an important part of a quality management system and can provide many advantages. These include:
- Increased customer satisfaction and trust through assurance that the product or service meets their quality standards;
- Improved process performance and efficiency due to a systematic approach to analyzing and improving processes;
- Reduced risk of errors and defects due to a systematic approach to identifying and resolving issues;
- Improved process documentation and training due to standardized quality systems;
- Improved communication with stakeholders due to clear and consistent expectations;
- Improved organization capability due to improved accountability and transparency;
- Improved product quality and customer loyalty through improved product reliability.
Limitations of external quality assurance
External quality assurance (EQA) is an important component of a quality management system, however, it is not without its limitations. The following are some of the main limitations of EQA:
- Cost: EQA is often expensive and time-consuming to implement, which can make it difficult for small businesses to afford.
- Bias: It can be difficult to ensure that EQA is conducted objectively and without bias, as it relies on the judgement of the people conducting the assessment.
- Impartiality: External quality assurance is conducted by an external agency, which may be less familiar with the system than the people who are running it, which can lead to impartial assessments.
- Inaccuracies: There is always the possibility of errors occurring during the assessment process, which can lead to inaccurate results.
- Reliability: As EQA is conducted by an external agency, there is no guarantee of reliability, as the agency may not have the same level of expertise as the people running the system.
|External quality assurance — recommended articles|
|Quality parameter — Process validation — Responsibilities of quality manager — Social audit — Audit scope — Monitoring of performance — Reliability of measurement — Operational audit — Quality management system|
- Stensaker, B., Langfeldt, L., Harvey, L., Huisman, J., & Westerheijden, D. (2011). An in‐depth study on the impact of external quality assurance. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 36(4), 465-478.