8 commonly interchanged terms- Explained

8 commonly interchanged terms- Explained

8 commonly interchanged terms- Explained

Industry terms can be tough to handle. It can get worse if you are an expert. Picture your juniors using the wrong terms to describe something, or try to make sense of a brilliantly written article that contains interchanged terms. Some businesses say that they have accreditation for their QMS when they really mean certification. The examples are many.

Environmental, safety and quality management systems are loaded with vocabulary that has well-defined meanings. Still, there are a few terms that are often interchangeable. Here are a few that are often mixed up;

Accreditation vs Certification

The official definition of these two terms is:

Certification– A formal procedure by which an accredited Conformity Assessment Body recognizes an organizations management system under a set of specified requirements. (ISO 9001:2015, “specified requirements”-Quality management system as an example)

Accreditation-The independent evaluation of Conformity Assessment against the standard ISO 17021 to ensure their impartiality, consistency and competence.

In short, the Conformity assessment body needs accreditation so that it deliverscertification services for anorganization’s management system.

Conformance vs compliance

According to ISO 9000:2015, conformity is defined as a fulfilment of requirements, but not much else. Definitions of non-conformance are few and talk about conformance. Let’s look at the dictionary definition:

To comply-To be in accordance with a set of specifications or regulations, or with a policy or guideline.

To conform-How well a product or system meets a specificstandard.

What this means,

Compliance is doing what others tell you to do, while conformance is choosing to do it for yourself. You must comply with what the law requires of you, i.e. pay your taxes. Still, you if you want your customers to enjoy more satisfaction, then you choose to undergo a conformity assessment for your products and services to conform to ISO standard.

Quality control vs quality assurance

These are closely related terms that are often interchanged. They are, however, different. Here are their definitions:

Quality assurance-A process-focused concept of quality management. Processes exist to make sure that products and services turn out as per their requirements.

Quality control-A product-focused concept that deals with the inspections of quality management. Quality control verifies the excellence of a product or service.

Here are even simpler terms.

Quality Assurance is the process of managing quality. Quality control evaluates the quality of the product or output.

Inspection vs Audit

These terms look similar, right? The truth is, they aren’t. Let’s say a client wants to observe the progress of a building site daily. Will this be considered an inspection or audit? Here are the definitions:

Audit-An assessment of a process or system to determine whether it meets a defined standard. Audits verify the conformance to a standard through systemic review of objective evidence.

Inspection-Evaluation of products or processes. It often involves measurement and tests to confirm that the product meets the specified requirement.

Although the definitions seem similar, the main difference is that an audit is formal, scheduled and planned. An inspection,on the other hand,may not be formal or planned out.

Types of audits include:

  • Legal compliance audits
  • Internal audits
  • System audits

Inspections include site inspections, vehicle inspection etc.

We have tried to clear the air on some of these terms, but there could be more. Share your thoughts or comments, and we can talk about them on our next blog.

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