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Church’s IT environment revamped – modernisation brought big cost savings for the Church Council

The reformed Kirkkoverkko is an agile network that better serves the Church’s different areas of operation locally. While digitalisation holds significant potential for the Church, a human-centred approach always takes precedence.

With more than 15,000 employees nationwide, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is a major employer by Finnish standards. In addition to local parishes and parish unions, the Church operates through centralised services. The Church’s common finances, administration and operations are managed by the Church Council, whose financial department is headed by Juha Tuohimäki.

  • “In terms of finances, the Church is like a large city, although one that has spread across the country,” Tuohimäki says.

Netum has served as an IT consultant for the Church Council for several years. The last major reformation project completed was the modernisation of the Church’s internal IT infrastructure, Kirkkoverkko. The project started in 2021, and the new Kirkkoverkko was deployed this year. The goal of the modernisation was to make the system more agile by dismantling the old, centralised Kirkkoverkko and introducing new regional networks. The project proved successful by several measures.

  • “The annual cost savings with the reformed Kirkkoverkko exceed EUR 300,000,” Tuohimäki says.
  • “The new IT environment is based on modern technology and is more flexible and user-friendly than the old one. I can give Netum a perfect score for the reform.”

Juha Tuohimäkidirector of the Church Council's finance department

Customer understanding drove the project forwards

Tuomas Koskiniemi, Management Consultant at Netum, took the reins of the Church Council project in the spring of 2023. The Church Council was a new type of customer for Koskiniemi, and the project as a whole was large and demanding.

  • “To determine the best ways to carry out the reform, we needed to analyse the unique operating environment of the Church thoroughly,” Koskiniemi says.
  • “The impact of the reform was extensive, which added to the excitement of working on the project. Above all, implementing the modernisation project required good change management capabilities. With a large team of experts working towards a shared goal, excellent communication and cooperation skills were essential for a successful outcome.”

Netum’s approach to consulting starts with understanding the customer’s starting points and managing the big picture.

  • “Instead of pushing the same methods for different customers, we dive into each customer’s specific framework. This approach is effective because our team has top experts with extensive knowledge of different sectors,” Koskiniemi says.

The Church Council was also pleased with the smooth cooperation.

  • “The project manager worked partly on our premises and gained a deep understanding of our operating culture. Netum quickly earned the trust of our various operators,” Tuohimäki says.

Tuomas Koskiniemi, Management Consultant at Netum

Digitalisation is about people

The opportunities offered by digitalisation and artificial intelligence hold tremendous potential for the Church’s operations, although each step must be taken cautiously.

  • “The Church’s service centre is already using some AI applications, and we have launched the preparation of a digitalisation roadmap. However, not all services can be digitalised, and the use of AI also involves ethical issues. You need to understand what is worth and what is not worth digitalising,” Tuohimäki says.

Cooperation between the Church Council and Netum will continue with new development projects. Next, HR systems will be reformed to improve the tools used in employee management. From Netum’s point of view, digitalisation is, first and foremost, about people.

  • “In our view, digitalisation involves more than just transforming information systems; it also transforms people. Changes must be made wisely,” Koskiniemi says.