In conjunction with our terms of reference as co-leads of the CHy theme area on QMF-Hydrology, we attended a WMO Quality Management Framework Overview and Auditor Training Workshop in Geneva during the week of December 7-11, 2009. As you may recall, the Executive Council decided during its fifty-sixth session (EC-LVI, June 2004) to establish an Inter-Commission Task Team on Quality Management Framework (ICTT-QMF). The Council agreed that the WMO Quality Management Framework should focus on technical aspects of the operation of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs). It also emphasized the role and responsibility of the technical commissions in the provision of guidance, advice, review, and assessment for the development of the WMO QMF. In order to facilitate the implementation of a QMF in Members NMHSs, the ICTT-QMF deemed it essential to provide initial training for the Member’s experts active in QM issues in the various technical commissions as well as the WMO Secretariat staff supporting them. The subject overview and training workshop was a first attempt at meeting this objective.
The workshop consisted of two components: an overview of the fundamental regulations associated with the ISO 9000 family of Quality Management Standards; and an intensive introduction to the essential elements of planning and conducting an internal QMS audit. Although most of the workshop was devoted to auditor training, we would like to provide a more general review of the concepts and principles of Quality Management in this e-Board posting.
WMO has established and maintains a QMF for the purpose of providing a comprehensive system of recommended procedures and practices that can be included in Members quality management systems. These practices are targeted at ensuring the quality of data, products, and services. WMO’s quality policy states “WMO is dedicated to ensuring optimum affordable quality for all meteorological, climatological, hydrological, marine, and related environmental data, products, and services, especially those supporting the protection of life and property, safety on land, at sea, and in the air, sustainable economic development, and protection of the environment.”
The strategy behind this policy is based on a process of continuous improvement, efficient management, and good governance in five focused areas:
1) Ensuring that increasingly accurate and reliable warnings of severe events related to weather, water, and climate are delivered to users in a timely and useful manner;
2) Specifying and enhancing the provision of user-oriented weather, water, climate, and related services of identified quality to the public, governments and other users and customers;
3) Ensuring that observations, records, and reports on weather, water resources, climate, and related natural environmental conditions, operational forecasts, warning services, and related information are of identified quality for international exchange through the WMO coordinated systems and relevant joint standards with other international organizations;
4) Addressing the need to enhance the capabilities of Members to deliver services to users and customers with best available technology and assisting in improving cooperation and collaboration between Members in the implementation of quality management systems; and
5) Addressing the need to enhance the capabilities of Members with comprehensive capacity building activities that include training, through the development of partnerships and technology transfer.
The foundation of the WMO-QMF is vested in the eight principles of quality management developed by ISO Technical Committee ISO/TC176/SC2/WG15. These principles are critical to mission accomplishment and the enhancement of capacity building activities for Members. The current draft version of the WMO Technical Regulations (WMO Publication No. 49) Volume IV (Quality Management), dated April 2009, specifies these principles as follows.
User/customer focus – Members should identify, document, and understand the current and future needs of their users/customers for meteorological, hydrological, marine, aviation, and related environmental data, products, and services. The means to achieve this may include conducting regular customer satisfaction surveys, liaison meetings, and visits to customers.
Leadership – The WMO Congress and the Executive Council provide the overall leadership that establishes the purpose and direction for the Organization based on the WMO Convention (Article 2), the WMO strategic planning process. Congress, EC, and the Secretary-General maintain the organizational environment in which all Members, WMO constituent, and WMO working bodies are fully involved in achieving organizational objectives. In turn, the top management of each of the Members should clearly establish the direction of the organization and an environment where the staff is encouraged to work toward those objectives.
Involvement of people – The full involvement of members of Technical Commissions, Regional Associations and experts from Members and WMO Secretariat should be used for the implementation of the WM)-QMF and quality management systems (WMS) of Members. As personnel are the essence of an organization, their full involvement enables their abilities to be used for the benefit of the Members.
Process approach – A process is a set of interrelated or interacting activities that transform inputs into outputs. The desired results are achieved more efficiently when programme activities are managed as processes. The activities and related resources of Members should also be managed as processes. Processes may be operational, scientific, or administrative, and they provide the mechanism to achieve customer satisfaction.
System approach to management – Members should identify, understand, and manage interrelated processes as a system so that it can contribute to the Members’ effectiveness and efficiency in achieving their objectives. For example, identifying and managing interrelated processes for observations, records, and reports on weather, water resources, climate, and related natural environmental conditions as a system.
Continual improvement – Continual improvement in the quality of observations, records, and reports on weather, water resources, climate, and related natural environmental conditions, operational forecasts, and warning services should be a permanent objective of all Members. Specifically, the effectiveness and suitability of the quality management system should be evaluated and areas for improvement should be identified and rectified. Regular management reviews should be conducted and channels for staff to make suggestions on ways to improve the service should be considered.
Factual approach to decision making – Effective decisions should be based on the analysis of data and information. They should never be based on unsubstantiated beliefs or suppositions.
Mutually beneficial supplier relationships – Mutually beneficial relations with other international and national organizations will enhance the ability to create value added meteorological, hydrological, marine, aviation, and related environmental products and services. The Members and their suppliers are interdependent and a mutually beneficial relationship enhances the ability of both to create value. Suppliers should be evaluated and selected on the basis of their ability to meet requirements and on past performance.
How will a WMO QMF-Hydrology be established? The answer to this question is indicated in Annex 1 to Resolution 1 of the abridged final report of CHy-XIII (WMO-No. 1033), which says there should “be three broad categories of potential focus of CHy with respect to QMF, plus one cross-cutting aspect related to training.” These 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;
· Documentation and guidance on management of NHSs, for example, Guidelines on the Role, Operation and Management of National Hydrological Services (WMO Operational Hydrology Report No. 49, WMO No. 1003);
· Documentation on technical approaches for the provision of hydrological data, products, and services; and
· Development of training modules and materials.
Our terms of reference for the current intersessional period include a specific activity to prepare and publish guidance material on the definition and implementation of a Quality Management System (QMS) for NHSs. In addressing this activity, there are two distinct tasks being performed. One is to follow the developments of the WMO ICTT-QMF; and our participation in the December QMF Workshop was part of this function. The second is to collect information from NHSs on their QMSs, including certification. This e-Board posting is, in part, designed to fulfill this second task.
Accordingly, we herewith request that each NHS respond to this posting in the “Leave a Reply” box below, with answers to the following questions:
Do you have a quality management system, of any form, in place in your service?
If your service has a QMS, does it hold a certification? If so, who is the certifying organization? What was the date of the original certification and, if applicable, the date of the most recent recertification?
If your service does not have (or is not currently developing) a QMS, would it consider adopting one developed under the framework of WMO’s QMF-Hydrology?
The success of CHy activities is strongly dependent on the active involvement of the Members. The current effort to promote and guide in the implementation of quality management systems within NHSs is no exception. Fortunately, the CHy Community has a solid track record of pursuing excellence, both within the Members services and within the WMO. In this knowledge, we wish to thank you in advance for assisting us.
Should you be interested in additional material regarding WMO’s past and planned QMF-related meetings, please see the WMO website at http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/www/QMF-Web/Meetings.html.
Zsuzsa Buzas and Harry Lins
Co-Leaders, Quality Management Framework-Hydrology Theme Area