Verification and Validation

 In 301

“Validation is to spelling what verification is to penmanship.”


Think about it. Spelling is making sure the word is really a word. After all, a misspelled word may not be recognizable as a word at all, and therefore devoid of meaning. Utterly useless, or worse: a misspelled word could closely represent something it was not intended to be: a different word. We’ve all experienced the sometimes hilarious consequences of a computer spell-checker gone mad.

Recently I was conversing with a Sri Lankan friend. He was talking about “qualities”. But he hears the “qua” sound as “co” and so when he said the word “qualities” it came out “colitis”. Needless to say it gave the sentence a whole new meaning.

Verification only assures that the barcode scans successfully; validation assures that is represents an actual product

Validation of a barcode means making sure the barcode represents the product it is intended to represent—or that it refers to any product at all. Verification of a barcode means the barcode is a barcode but not necessarily a barcode assigned to a product.

How could a validation error occur? There are numerous error opportunities. Companies with multiple product families and numerous products within a family can accidentally re-assign the number from one product to another. Another fairly common validation error is making a number assignment mistake. In the latter case, many people mistakenly believe that an EAN-13 is just a UPC-A with a leading zero. There are many ways of committing validation disaster.

Verification doesn’t detect such errors. The verification report blithely tests and grades the reflective and structure attributes of the barcode.

Some–but not all–verifiers also validate

Validation mistakes–how to avoid them? Scan the barcode with a scanner with access to the retail number assignment database. See what product the barcode refers to and compare that look-up to the product or package. If they don’t match exactly, you’ve just saved yourself and your company (or customer) a retail channel meltdown.

You thought verification also validated the barcode? Some of them—but not all of them—do. Important as verification is, all it does is to ensure that the barcode can be decoded by the scanner. Verification is just penmanship. Some verifiers just make sure the symbol will scan, not that it represents an actual product.

Verification is just penmanship–validation is spelling

It is not accurate to say that verification is more important than validation, or vice versa. Both are extremely important. Validation, however, is often perilously overlooked.


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