February 2015

What is a control?

In the quality profession we often hear reference to “controls”. Control Plans are created to document how a process is operated; it defines the reaction plan for a non-conformance and documents what is in place to “control the process” to defined requirements.

Often we see (today) that controls are listed as follows: control charts, checklists, audit sheets, inspection sheets, data collection forms etc.

The confusion here is that while generally referred to as “controls” these items are actually quality records. These records are “documents”; they can be audited by management or can be used as “evidence” that a quality system is in place. However, it is outdated thinking to define these documents as controls.