3.1 Using the quality system in strategic management

Auditeringsgruppens bedömning

VAMK’s quality policy is in line with the institutional strategy

VAMK’S quality policy outlines the guiding principles of the institutional quality work and thus fosters the implementation of VAMK’S strategy. The links between strategy, quality policy and quality management are laid down in VAMK’s Quality Handbook, which is published both in Finnish and English on the website of the institution. This handbook describes the functioning of VAMK’s Quality system, which is based on the cycle of continuous improvement (Plan – Do – Check – Act) as well as the responsibilities of the various actors in an appropriate way. Process descriptions, procedures, as well as directives complement the Quality Handbook for actual use and are available on the intranet.

VAMK’s strategy 2030 is well-known among the staff members, students, and key partner organisations. In the interviews, staff members confirmed that the strategy was developed in a dialogic and collaborative process, thus ensuring that all staff are aware of the connection between VAMK’s strategic goals, their own work, and their contribution to quality enhancement. External stakeholders also had an opportunity to contribute to VAMK’s strategy.

The quality system provides a sound basis for the management of the institution

VAMK’s quality system produces appropriate information especially for management needs. Strategic indicators help to monitor the objectives set for each of the strategic areas for enhancement and have been adapted to the needs of each user group such as the Heads of Units, the Management Team, and the Board of VAMK. Annual planning cycles for the board and the management are clearly designed and highly appreciated as was confirmed in the interviews. Furthermore, the interviews brought evidence that the Board is highly committed to quality work and actively monitors the achievement of goals through the respective indicators.

The Management Team systematically reviews the results produced by the quality system. This enables a large-scale development and reduces the risk that minor details prevail and endanger development activities. Strategic indicators are reviewed four times a year. At the time of the audit visit, the supervisors still had to manually extract indicator data for their areas of responsibility. However, the auditors learned that the data production and the reporting of indicators will soon be automated by means of a new dashboard. Thus, more time will be available for the qualitative analysis of information and results. The auditors welcome this development.

The strategic goals are implemented through the economic and action plans of the units and the entire institution. The action plans define the targets for each unit which relate to VAMK’s strategic goals and areas for enhancement. Monitoring of the action plans is based on information stemming from quality management and the use of the strategic indicators.

So far, VAMK has developed a fairly large number of quantitative indicators to measure the results of its strategic and quality work, yet none for societal engagement and impact. The audit team encourages VAMK to also develop indicators for this strategic area and to reconsider the strong emphasis of quantitative indicators. The auditors recommend finding a balance between quantitative and qualitative information, and also include qualitative indicators in their quality management toolbox.