Most small business owners guarantee the quality of their employees' work by a simple, time-consuming process: checking everything they do. This, however, is an extremely inefficient way to ensure quality. Not only does it take up time that leaders could be using more effectively, but it can also lead to inconsistent results.
Smart business owners recognize this and do something about it. Specifically, they hire Quality Assurance (QA) staff to monitor the quality of the goods and services their company provides, and to apply QA standards consistently. QA services are relatively inexpensive and can add so much value to your brand’s reputation that they quickly pay for themselves.
The first question that most small business owners will have when it comes to QA is a simple one – what is it?
Well, the definition of QA is relatively simple. QA refers to the processes and procedures that are used to systematically and consistently assess the quality of the products a company produces. These processes, like the products they are used to assess, can be highly varied. They may relate to physical products, software, or even customer services.
Most businesses will use some form of QA. A manager checking the quality of an employee's work, and taking responsibility for it, is an informal way of approaching this. There are good reasons, however, for companies to standardize and formalize their QA processes.
QA is often overlooked by small businesses, but it is important—and inexpensive. Even if your company doesn’t produce physical products, you can hire a freelancer to perform an online QA audit of your web presence, and of your customer service offering. This independent perspective will shed light on your business's shortcomings and is invaluable in informing future business decisions.
In addition, QA becomes exponentially more important at several key times in the growth and development of your business. It’s important, for instance, to perform a QA audit as you launch your online business, in order to catch any errors and issues before they can hurt you.
Equally, QA is very important at times of digital transformation, so that you can ensure that all of your new systems are working together without any errors.
In addition to these general reasons to adopt a thorough QA process, there are a number of more specific advantages to hiring a QA manager.
At the most fundamental level, having a QA process in place is a way of protecting your brand image. Your company will ultimately be judged by the quality of the products you put out into the world, and, if these fall short of consumer expectations, you will soon acquire a reputation for poor quality goods.
Hiring an external QA auditor can also be a great way of getting an independent assessment of the user experience you are offering. If you’ve spent many hours working on your business yourself, it can sometimes be difficult to see it from an outside perspective and to see where you could improve. A QA freelancer can help you with that.
More advanced types of QA audit will look beyond the quality of the products you provide, and the customer experience you offer, and assess some more complex aspects of your products. One of these is the security of your apps. A data breach can be a PR disaster for small companies, so it’s important to hire a QA professional during the software testing of your app, so you can spot any potential security flaws before they can harm your business.
More generally, having a well-defined QA system in place helps you to ensure quality work across your business. This is particularly important for Startups, where a dynamic work environment can create confusion when it comes to the expectations you have from staff members.
A successful QA system will have a set of well-defined criteria that are understood by both your quality assessors and the staff they are assessing. In this way, you can ensure that everyone in your organization is on the same page, and working toward the same goals.
Ultimately, every small business is only as good as the products and services it offers. This means that, without a well-developed QA system, business owners have no way of knowing how their company is seen by their customers. So the next time you are looking to hire exceptional talent to expand your team, make sure you expand your QA team at the same time.