The purpose of this chapter is to describe the management information system (MIS) which integrates strategic management and quality assurance. Institutional quality audits have shown that quality assurance is quite often separate from the general management system of HEIs. By contrast, a well-functioning quality assurance system produces evaluative information about results and processes and then management uses this information to develop processes. Management at each institutional level determines the corrective action. While providing support for strategic management, themanagement information system can also contribute to continuous improvement, which is the core of quality assurance.
Strategic management has been widely applied in public and private organizations. Strategic management adapts educational institutions to their environment, which includes the educational policy, local demand for labour and other circumstances. The increased autonomy of educational institutions has emphasised the role of strategic management. Quality assurance has also gained more attention in recent years when plans have been made to establish the European Higher Education Area (Berlin Communiqué, 2003).
European countries develop their own national solutions for evaluating and demonstrating the quality of degrees (FINHEEC, 2006). There are no European or national agreements that provide any specific approaches or tools for the management of higher education institutions (HEIs) (Maassen & Stensaker, 2003). Each HEI is responsible for defining its management and quality assurance systems. Strategic management is a strong candidate for the management system for Finnish HEIs, but there is more variation in the quality assurance systems. Quality assurance refers to quality management and improvement. Quality is understood as the ability of an institution to fulfill its mission or a study programme to fulfill its aims (Harvey, 2007; Harvey & Green, 1993).
The purpose of this chapter is to describe the management information system (MIS) which integrates strategic management and quality assurance. Institutional quality audits have shown that quality assurance is quite often separate from the general management system of HEIs. By contrast, a well-functioning quality assurance system produces evaluative information about results and processes and then management uses this information to develop processes. Management at each institutional level determines the corrective action. While providing support for strategic management, the management information system can also contribute to continuous improvement, which is the core of quality assurance.
The balanced scorecard approach developed by Kaplan and Norton (1996, 2001) translates the strategy into action and provides a framework to integrate the strategic management and quality assurance approaches. This chapter describes the case of the Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS). At the TUAS, the implementation of the strategic plan includes, among others, budgeting, action plans and HR plans, which are stored in the MIS portal. The balanced scorecard is used to create an understandable structure for the strategic and action plans which include quantitative measures. All these management and quality assurance tools are provided for the managers and personnel as the tools of the MIS portal.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Quality Assurance: Assurance of quality in higher education is the process of establishing stakeholder confidence that provision (input, process and outcomes) fulfills expectations or measures up to threshold minimum requirements. Quality assurance refers to the procedures, processes and systems that safeguard and improve the quality of a HEI, its education and other activities.
Balanced Scorecard: The balanced scorecard approach is a framework for the communication and implementation of the strategy. The balanced scorecard approach translates the strategy of an organization into tangible objectives and measures and balances them typically into four different perspectives: customers, financial outcomes, internal processes, and learning.
Management Information System: A proper management information system presupposes modelling the entire management process and tailoring all the necessary components of the information technology support system to meet the needs of the organization. The management information system should include a description and measures of how the strategic objectives will be achieved.
Quality Management: Quality management emphasises the importance of management’s commitment to quality. Quality must be managed; it does not just happen.
Higher Education Institution: Higher education institutions include traditional scientific universities and professional-oriented institutions, which are called universities of applied sciences or polytechnics.
Strategic Management: Strategic management is a matter of bridge building between the perceived present situation and the desired future situation. Strategy implies the movement of an organization from its present position, described by the mission, to a desirable but uncertain future position, described by the vision.
Quality Enhancement: Enhancement is a process of improvement. In relation to higher education quality, enhancement may refer to: (1) individual learners when it means improvement of the attributes, knowledge, ability, skills, and potential of learners; (2) the improvement in the quality of an institution or study programme.