Proof and description of Syke’s Quality Management

January 5th 2021


Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) is a governmental environmental research institute focusing on providing reliable knowledge, information and data. Syke strives for accelerating the transitions towards a sustainable society.

Syke has developed its quality management and quality assurance procedures systematically in order to ensure that the work conducted, and the deliverables meet high quality standards.

Syke’s quality management system has been certified according to ISO 9001standard. This certificate covers all Syke’s activities and functions including also communications, human resources management, financial management and performance management.

Syke’s environmental management system certified according to ISO14001 is also an integral part of the quality management and quality assurance system in Syke.

The testing laboratory (T003), the calibration laboratory (K054) and the proficiency testing service (PT01) are accredited by FINAS, the Finnish Accreditation Service. Regarding the methods for chemical analyses of the water environment Syke is a contract laboratory by VTT MIKES Metrology (National Metrology Institute of Finland).

In the following the main elements of Syke’s general quality management and control procedures are described.

All Syke’s activities are covered by the operational order of Syke that specifies the general responsibilities and tasks of Syke’s units and officials, and the decision making in Syke.

Quality management procedures

Syke is striving for continuous improvement of its performance.

The key elements of Syke’s quality management are the performance management, project management (including financial and administrative management), internal evaluation and monitoring of deliverables, internal audits and independent reviews of Syke’s activities.

Performance management

Performance management procedure is a standard procedure applied in all governmental institutions in Finland. Performance management’s main purpose is to find balance between resources and targets. The principal concept is always generating added value for the institution’s customers and for the society as a whole has been equally emphasised.

Syke has performance agreements with the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The agreements follow the performance management guidelines for the governmental organizations in Finland. The agreements are structured according to key topic areas, and include societal effectiveness, operational efficiency and resources’ management. Syke’s annual report is submitted to the Ministry of the Environment and includes detailed financial statements and audit reports. The report is prepared according the Government Guidance on reporting. The performance data is also published at the government’s performance information system managed by the State Treasury of Finland. Feedback is provided by the controller function of the Finnish Government and the Ministry of the Environment.

Each operational unit in Syke has a performance agreement signed by the Director of the Unit and the Director General or, in the case of the Strategic Programmes, by the Programme Director and the Research Director or the Director, General Management. The performance agreements are based on Syke’s strategy and the general framework for performance management in the Finnish state administration. The performance agreements include specifically sections on societal effectiveness, operational efficiency and quality of the work and identification of key projects and outputs, economic efficiency and the management of human resources. The scientific quality is specifically monitored by the Research Director. The performance is reviewed twice a year for ensuring progress and for the identification of any deviations. In case deviations occur, they are documented, and the Director of the Unit is responsible for corrective action.

General project management

Syke’s research, development and expert services are organised into projects. Each project is placed within an administrative unit whose Director is responsible for the general management of all projects in the unit. The projects are led by responsible scientists or senior experts (project managers) who manage the operational work, supported by managerial staff from Syke’s general administration (financial management and work time monitoring). When a new project is established it is approved by the Director of the respective unit and documented in a project initiation document that specifies the financial commitments and the activities according to the project plan. The project initiation also includes an ex ante environmental assessment of the project. These documents are stored in Syke’s electronic document management system.

The progress of the project is monitored by the project manager who oversees the activities and the contributions of researchers who are working for the project. The time management and monitoring are based on an electronic project management and time sheet system which is obligatory and common for all Syke’s activities. It allows for detailed work time monitoring and is directly linked with Syke’s financial monitoring system.

Project management procedures are applied also in internal activities.

Deliverables review and monitoring

The project manager has general responsibility for the output and deliverables of the project although each expert is expected to take full responsibility for the quality of his/her own work. For in-house review, experts involved in the project are expected to discuss draft outputs with the project manager before submission, unless the output is an integrated part of a collaborative effort which cannot be independently reviewed and if the manager of the final product is an external partner.

Feedback from customers and partners are always submitted to the project manager who discusses with the expert an appropriate course of action regarding the feedback received. The output and products are revised accordingly.

Syke has a continuous monitoring of outputs of project activities. The project manager reports on the progress of the project for the half annual and annual review that is prepared by the Director of the Unit. Syke’s information services documents/records the publication output of the units.

Internal audits and independent reviews of Syke’s activities

Syke’s strategic quality management includes regular internal audits, assessment of risks and opportunities and independent reviews.

Syke conducts internal audits for its activities periodically in accordance with a predetermined schedule and procedure to verify its operations comply with the requirements of the management system and to improve its performance. In addition to the internal audits, internal assessments of risks and opportunities are being conducted regularly.

Regular independent audits are performed for the accredited quality assurance systems of the laboratory, the certified ISO 14001 environmental management system and for ISO 9001 quality management system.

Syke is regularly reviewed by international panels. These reviews are strategic, aiming at improving the general quality of the work without going into detailed monitoring of individual activities. The latest review was completed in 20201 which contributed to the re-organisation of the activities to bring expert services and research into closer interaction.

Published 2021-01-11 at 14:36, updated 2023-03-07 at 9:39
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