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One of the basic conditions for successful integration of the SPECTRA Centre into the common European research space in accordance with the goals of the SPECTRA PERSEUS project is the assurance of the quality and efficiency of its work. That is why the elaboration of the complex quality assurance system and its implementation became a part of this project.

A part of the QAS implementation and WP5 concentrated on the strengthening of the integration of the Centre into the European research structures has been an international audit focused on the chances to achieve the European standards in the executive management of the Centre and quality improvement, elaborated under the supervision of the representative of the twinning partner – ARL Hannover. This audit has been focused on the potential of the SPECTRA Centre to implement new strategies, rules and instruments in its research management and on its research competitiveness under the new condition, in the context of the preparation for the EU enlargement.

Date of the audit: May / December 2003

Twinning partner:
Academy for Spatial Research and Regional Planning - ARL Hannover ,
Represented by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dietmar Scholich, Secretary General

Supporting missions realized:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dietmar Scholich, mission to the SPECTRA Centre (2003, June 12 th – 13 th )

Members of the audit group – assessors:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dietmar Scholich, Secretary General, Academy for Spatial Research and Planning / ARL Hannover

Prof. Ing.arch. Rudolf Steis, DrSc., EURAS Bratislava

Ing. Mariana Palenikova, Director of the Municipal Office Ziar nad Hronom

Goals of the audit

External audit has been planned and carried out to determine whether the research and training activities of the SPECTRA Centre and related results of its quality assurance system comply with the standards in common European research space and to determine the effectiveness of the proposed quality assurance system. In addition the goal of the audit is to ensure that the SPECTRA Centre will be able to continue the improvement of its research and training activities and their results via:

  • Assessment of the realized and planned research and training activities
  • Identification of the main strengths and weaknesses in the quality management system and especially for the implementation of the prepared quality assurance system of the SPECTRA Centre
  • Encouraging and sustaining the supportive style of SPECTRA Centre management
  • Promoting values, attitudes and behaviour that foster improvement
  • Setting clear quality improvement fields in the activities of the Centre
  • Encouraging effective communication and teamwork
  • Recognizing successes and achievements of SPECTRA Centre
  • Encouraging the training and educating activities of the SPECTRA Centre staff

External audit has been understood as a part of the Auditing system incorporated into the Quality management system completing the system of Quality Assurance System.

Requirements for auditing process

The complex integrated auditing system of SPECTRA Centre elaborated by the Centre`s executive management in the collaboration with the twinning partner has been developed based on ISO 9000:2000 „Quality management systems: Fundamentals and vocabulary“ and ISO 9004: „Quality management systems: Guidelines for performance improvements“ and the national standards STN EN ISO 9000:2000 and STN EN ISO 9004. In addition to this international normative background, the set of criteria and standards for evaluation of the Gottfried Leibniz Institute Network (Federal Republic of Germany) were taken into account, as this network of the top research institutes in Germany works on omnibus principals based on regular external evaluation (twinning partner for this activity ARL Hanover is a member of this Network).

Relating to the goals of the external audit of the SPECTRA Centre, an integrated audit programme was established and implemented by its executive management. The first steps of this programme were realized as a part of the SPECTRA- PERSEUS project as Activity A 5.3. “International audit focused on the chances to achieve the European standards in executive management of the Centre and quality improvement.”

The outputs of activity A 5.3 is represented by this deliverable D. 5.2 “ Report from the international audit of the Centre elaborated by the twinning partner and implementation of the audit conclusions towards achievement of the European standards” and by continual support during implementation of audit`s recommendations and QAS implementation, for which are two missions in the next project period planned (17 th and 23 rd months).

The SPECTRA Centre Executive management has taken responsibilities for the programming, conducting and reporting task in the audit procedure. The external audit report is an internal document of the SPECTRA Centre.

Evaluation scale

For assessment approach in the evaluation of partial performance fields of the SPECTRA Centre activities have been applied five performance maturity levels:

• No formal approach

• Reactive approach

• Stable formal system approach

• Continual improvement emphasized

• Best-in-class performance

Basic documents

As the basis for the audit itself the following documents were elaborated or placed at disposal:

• Questionnaire for the auditors

• Program documents of the SPECTRA Centre

• Results of the internal evaluation

• Annual report

• Management structure overview


The questionnaire for the auditors has consisted of the main questions as follows:

• Managing system and processes – how does the SPECTRA Centre executive management apply the process approach to achieve the effective and efficient management?

• Documentation – how are documents and records used to support effective and efficient operation of the research and training activities in the Centre?

• Management responsibilities – how does top management demonstrate its leadership, commitment and involvement?

• Needs and expectations of the spatial planning practice – how does the SPECTRA Centre identify the needs and expectations of the spatial practice? How does the SPECTRA Centre identify the need of the staff members for recognition, work satisfaction, competence and personal development? How does the SPECTRA Centre use the potential benefits of establishing partnerships with spatial practice subjects and research/training institutions in SR or abroad?

• Quality policy – how do the objectives translate the quality policy into project management of the SPECTRA Centre? How are the objectives employed to each management level to assure individual contribution to achievement?

• Structure of aims and objectives – how relevant are the aims and objectives of the SPECTRA Centre with respect to research and education in the context of the EU objectives, national objectives, institutional missions and goals?

• Responsibility, authority and communication – how does the executive management ensure that responsibilities are established and communicated to the staff in the SPECTRA Centre? How does management promote involvement and support of the staff for improvement of the effectiveness and efficiency of the SPECTRA Centre?

• Personal policy – How does management ensure that the competence of people in the organization is adequate for current and future needs?

• Infrastructure and work environment – is the infrastructure appropriate for the achievement of the objectives of the organization? Does the work environment promote motivation, satisfaction, development and performance of the staff in the SPECTRA Centre?

• Information – is the appropriate information available for fact-based decision making? Is the appropriate information for potential co-operation partners and for the target group of the Centre's activities available?

• Financial resources – how are the financial resources managed to ensure the achievement of the objectives of the SPECTRA Centre?

• External relationships - how are the ties with industry, commerce, government agencies, professionals bodies, spatial planning practitioners, in the context of the SPECTRA Centre's mission? How are the ties with similar units nationally and internationally in the context of the SPECTRA Centre' mission? How is the participation in the European exchange programmes and programmes of the research and educational co-operation? How is the proportion of the foreign students and researchers enrolled in the SPECTRA Centre, with a breakdown by country of origin? How are the proportion of the staff members and students of the SPECTRA Centre who studied/worked abroad with a breakdown by host county?

• Self-evaluation process and outputs - is the report sufficiently self-reflective and analytical? Are the aims and objectives clearly expressed and academically rigorous? To what extent are the aims and objectives met? Are the strengths and weaknesses clearly formulated and substantiated? Are the recommendations to correct weaknesses and to build on strengths clearly presented and practical? Is there any information missing? How did the self-evaluation process go?

• Improvement – how does management use corrective action for evaluating and eliminating recorded problems affecting its performance? How does the SPECTRA Centre management use preventive action, methods and tools for quality improvement?

Structure of the Audit report

Based on the above mentioned standards following structure of the Audit Report were proposed and fulfilled:

• Scientific consideration

• Relevance in the frame of national context

• Relevance in the frame of international context

• Relevance in the frame of central European space

• Relevance for creation of know-how

• Relevance for transfer of know-how

• Significance for practice

• In general

• Significance for creation of know-how relevant for practice

• Significance for transfer of know how relevant for practice

• Methods and instruments of know-how spread

• Key program documents

• In general

• Corporate Mission

• Ethical Code

• Personal Development Strategy

• Corporate Image Strategy


• Focal points of the scientific work

• In general

• Planning of the research

• Gremia

• Project management

• Quality of outputs

• Publishing activity

• Events

• Organization / Structure / Equipment

• In general

• Internal organisational structure

• Personal strategy

• Support to young researchers

• Scientific board

• Executive structures

• Equipment

• Cooperation

• In general

• International cooperation

• National cooperation

• Local cooperation

• Networking

Process of the audit

The process of external audit consisted of the main steps as follows:

Steps realized:

• Preparing the internal documents for audit (March – June 2003)

• Nomination of the auditors/assessors (April 2003)

• Preparation visit of the auditors (June 2003)

• Agreement about the structure of the questionnaire for auditors (May - June 2003)

• Defining of the data necessary for the assessment (May - June 2003)

• Completing the data by the SPECTRA Centre management (May - July 2003)

• Individual study of the documents by auditors (July - August 2003)

• Meeting of the auditors with he SPECTRA Centre management and staff (October 2003)

• Participation of the auditors in the activities of the Centre (May – November 2003)

• Elaborating of the audit report (October – December 2003)

• Discussion about the results of audit and proposed measures in the Scientific Board of the SPECTRA Centre and during the Annual Project Meeting (2003, December 15 th )

• Reporting and preparing the deliverable (December 2003)

Next steps:

• Elaborating of the statement of the SPECTRA Centre management to the audit report and discussion about the results (planned for January 2004)

• Proposal of the measures related to the results of the audit by the SPECTRA Centre Executive Management and the Council of Guarantors (February – March 2004)

• Monitoring of the implementation of the measures proposed as the reaction on the recommendations from the Audit.

Main recommendations from the Audit / Conclusions

As the Audit report has been classified as the internal document of the SPECTRA Centre, at least the following main recommendations are presented as the part of this deliverable:

Scientific consideration

  • In spite of the fact that the SPECTRA Centre is the only research unit of that kind in the Slovak Republic , it is inevitable to concentrate the focus of the Centre more on the priority research tasks in the national and international context.
  • To formalize the activities of continual monitoring of the current goings-on in the field of spatial research.
  • To deepen the active communication with the management structures of the international research.

Significance for practice

  • To improve presentation of the research results and implementation of the research outputs for the management bodies in the practice of spatial planning.
  • To enlarge the actively used range of methods and instruments of the research results dissemination.
  • To widen the spatial impact of the dissemination activities beyond the borders of the Slovak Republic with the support of the foreign partners.
  • To intensify the co-operation with the newly established management structures of spatial development in the Slovak Republic

Key programme documents

  • In the work of the Centre and outside the Centre to present and put into action the content of the key programme documents.
  • To implement the Corporate Identity Strategy in communication with external and internal environment of the Centre and to foster the CI as a natural feature of the steadfastness of the staff to the centre and their identification with the Centre´s objectives

• To apply a broad-based Corporate design of the Centre in the publishing activities of the staff.

Focal points of the scientific work

  • To put into practice the instruments of the QAS in the research activities and publishing activities
  • To expand and improve the publishing activity in the current professionals journals at home and abroad.
  • To extend the publishing activities in the foreign languages.

Organization / Structure / Equipment

  • To improve and deepen the autonomy of management at the lower levels (thematic and project units).
  • To implement the newly elaborated Quality Assurance System of the Centre.
  • To support the flexible organisational structure of the Centre by the increase of the mobility of research staff in favour of the temporary employed staff.
  • To improve the language skills of the staff of the Centre.
  • To strengthen the role of scientific gremia of the Centre in management of the research, mainly in the strategic planning and evaluation.
  • To update the equipment of the Centre and its availability for every staff member
  • To continue the auditing activities regularly in the frame of official evaluating processes of the Faculty of Architecture and the Slovak University of Technology in the frame of the Centre`s QAS


  • To strengthen the position of the Centre in the international networks.
  • To support the creation of regional networks.
  • To strengthen the regional position of the Centre as the switch point between regional and international networks.