Corporate quality assurance can be thought of as going beyond just the software development process, encompassing all company-wide procedures.
Whereas the software quality assurance function seeks to create a framework for creating the best possible software products, quality at the corporate level would be concerned with procedures that effect the entire company.
In larger companies, this function may be overseen by someone at the director or vice president level. Their responsibilities would include directing and coordinating the efforts of the various departments or divisions of the company toward the goal of creating an overall Corporate quality assurance framework.
While some of the procedures may vary, the ultimate goal is the same as it is with software quality assurance, the production of the best possible products and services which is accomplished by following proven quality procedures.
Like software quality assurance, Corporate QA has similar goals, for example:
the creation of quality initiatives and a corporate quality policy
continuous improvement methodologies
audits to ensure compliance
standardization of procedures across all divisions and departments
Depending upon the size and complexity of the organization, these goals may be a challenge to implement. Like software quality assurance, Corporate QA requires cooperation and effective communication among individuals within groups and between the groups as well.
As always, senior management must initiate the effort and provide the high-level vision in order to ensure success.
If a formal software quality assurance process already exists, then at least the idea of consistently following proven procedures has taken hold within the company and gained some acceptance. So, when considering the establishment of a Corporate QA program, organizations that have a successful software QA program may have a distinct advantage when taking on this much larger project.
For software QA professionals interested in expanding their reach corporate-wide, sharing software development success stories with management may be a good place to start.