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Quality Management

Why a Quality Management Framework is needed?

Reliable hydrological data and information are key inputs to the sound and wise management of water resources and are critical to decision making in various sectors of economy. Particularly in the framework of integrated water resources management, where multiple stakeholders are called upon to make decisions together, the quality and timeliness of data and information are crucial to facilitate a consensual decision making.

All too often lack of standard procedures and protocols for measuring environmental variables, storing and manipulating data, exchanging data and metadata, as well as lack of accepted methodologies for transforming data into information, result in conflicting information, data and products being made available to various sectors, administrative regions and diverse users. Such a situation can occur within a country, where multiple agencies and entities collect and make use of hydrological data, or between countries, especially the internationally shared basins, where different segments of the watercourse are subject to different jurisdictions. This situation can lead to disagreements, generate reluctance to cooperate and can undermine the importance and credibility of the work of the NHS.

There is therefore a need to ensure that data and information are collected, processed, stored and disseminated in a compatible, comparable and quality assured manner to sustain such a cooperative approach among stakeholders has to be implemented and promoted. The adoption of specific operational elements of quality assurance through establishing the acceptable practices and the exercise of control on their implementation is a key element in the attainment of this goal.

Adopting quality management principles, approaches and practices do not necessary implies that a NHS shall enter into a formal certification process (such as ISO 9001), as it allows per se facilitating the efficient and effective management and operation of a Service and even NHSs that may not have sufficient funds needed for third-party certification would still greatly benefit by adopting quality management principles.

WMO Quality Management Framework

WMO Congress in 2003 by its Resolution 27  decided that WMO should work toward a Quality Management Framework for National Meteorological and Hydrological Services that would eventually include and develop technical standards, quality management systems including quality control, certification procedures and the provision of early and continuing relevant advice to Members on developing their quality management systems.

Benefits from a Quality Management System

  • Optimizes techniques to customers needs
  • Improves customer confidence and satisfaction (helps to keep customers)
  • Provides better controls over operations (results are easier to control)
  • Continual process improvement
  • Increases productivity and efficiency
  • Ensures prompt and effective action on faults or complaints
  • Clarifies working structure
  • Improves teamwork and communication
  • Enhances corporate image and quality awareness in the organization
  • Ensures availability of proper documentation
  • Enables quick start-up time
  • Provides systematic training to staff
  • Helps for marketing services
  • Assurance of effective management to directors and shareholders/owner

The reasons that led WMO to develop the QMF is the willingness to support Members in their quest for enhanced product quality in order to comply with recommended practice for the provision of meteorological services for international air navigation, to better respond to customer and/or government requests, to improve their competitiveness and effectiveness.

WMO QMF is based on and fosters the implementation of the quality improvement loop. This can be seen as containing four steps: the preparing and planning, the realization of the product, checking of the results also in view of the client’s satisfaction, and finally reacting to that information to improve further actions. The gist in modern quality management is not only to control the final product, but the entire process.

QMF - Hydrology

Following Congress decision and in view of the consideration of the benefits for a NHS to implement a QMS, the Commission for Hydrology at its thirteenth session adopted (CHy-XIII, Res. 2) the Quality Management Framework - Hydrology. Its goal is to provide strategy, advice, guidance and tools for the NHS to attain quality, efficiency and effectiveness in their functioning.

The key principles of a QMS: (1)

  • Quality is built into the data/observation and information production process rather than relying on post-production audits or checks;
  • Responsibilities for each player in the process are clearly defined and properly communicated;
  • Existence of an efficient results-focused control process (too many controls results in no control);
  • Stakeholders involvement in performance assessment; and
  • participation of the practitioners in the continuous evolution of the quality management system

(1) as identified in the Res. 2 (CHy-XIII)

As it is quite common to have a multiplicity of organizations at national level dealing with water data and information, there is a need for establishing a common quality management framework at national level. The development of such a nation-wide QMF shall be the responsibility of an authorized organization, normally the NHS, while each interested organization would develop its own quality management system under the umbrella of the national QMF. Similarly in the case of internationally shared water bodies it would be beneficial that, to support the coordinated management of the resource, the riparian countries could collect data and produce information on the basis of commonly agreed standards.

WMO, through the Hydrology and Water Resources Programme and the Commission for Hydrology, is committed to develop guidance and provide support to Members in their endeavour to develop a national Quality Management Framework. This will include:

  • Documentation on approaches to QMS and guidance on its adoption and implementation, including guidance on documenting procedures used by a NHS and documentation of the attributes of the products that the NHS produces including its level of quality (e.g development of Volume IV on Quality Management of WMO Technical Regulation;
  • Documentation and guidance on management of NHSs (e.g., WMO Operational Hydrology Report “Guidelines on the Role, Operation and Management of National Hydrological Services”);
  • Documentation on technical approaches for the provision of hydrological data, products and services (e.g. Guide to Hydrological Practices vol. I and II) );

The production of guidance material will be accompanied by the development of training modules and materials and the organization of training events to support the development of national capabilities to sustain, maintain and develop the implementation of the QMF.

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