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Excel spreadsheets replaced by visualised reports – The Regional State Administrative Agency acquires a more effective system for resource management and planning

Netum developed a resource allocation tool for the Regional State Administrative Agency’s occupational safety and health agencies to improve nationwide strategy implementation and monitoring.

The Regional State Administrative Agency operates as an enforcer, advisor and supervisor of legislation through regional agencies and six different areas or responsibility. One of these areas of responsibility is occupational safety and health, which is meant to ensure that work in Finland is healthy, safe and fair.

Tero Palonen, Head of the Information Management Department of the Occupational Safety and Health Agency, leads a team of seven members responsible for the development and maintenance of the information systems related to occupational safety and health. Abandoning Excel as a management tool has been a strategic goal of the Regional State Administrative Agency for a long time. In spring 2023, the Agency also began renewing the strategy implementation and monitoring of occupational safety and health in accordance with this goal.

  • ‘The main reason for updating to a new system was that resource allocation was planned and monitored using a nationwide Excel spreadsheet. Excel is a burdensome solution and poses a risk of data corruption when many people are manually handling the data. We wanted to renew the system to make reporting more reliable and the visualisation of data easier,’ explains Palonen.

An opportunity for modernisation came up when the Microsoft licence level used by the Regional State Administrative Agency was updated, enabling a wider utilisation of Power BI and Power Apps.

  • ‘It was possible to carry out the update using our existing resources, so this truly was an effortless opportunity for us,’ says Palonen.

Netum and the Regional State Administrative Agency have a long history of cooperation in knowledge management development projects. Netum’s expertise with Microsoft Azure convinced the Regional State Administrative Agency that Netum was the right choice for this project as well.

Tero Palonen, Head of the Information Management Department of the Occupational Safety and Health Agency

More than just application development

Juha Levonen, who works at Netum as an application developer, was given the task of developing a new tool for the Regional State Administrative Agency for strategy implementation and monitoring. Improving resource allocation played a key role in the new solution. 

  • ‘Transferring from Excel to a system run on a database required much more than just application development. The biggest task in this project was changing the entire mindset of the organisation,’ explains Levonen.

With Levonen in charge, everyone took a step back to view the big picture of resource allocation, i.e. how to monitor human resources in an organisation like the Regional State Administrative Agency as effectively as possible and how to make sure the data is uniform and the process is straightforward on a national scale. Instead of person work months, the new system uses more precise person work days. Azure’s SQL Database was selected as the database and Power Apps as the user interface.

  • ‘Fluid data is a major challenge in resource allocation. People and tasks come and go, and this data is quickly outdated when using Excel. Now that up-to-date information is transferred directly from the HR system, the flexibility of data is no longer a problem,’ says Levonen.

Power Apps is a ‘low code’ application that does not require the user to possess any coding skills. The user interface has been designed to be as intuitive as possible. An organisation like the Regional State Administrative Agency produces plenty of data, which is why the data filtering options and the default values provided by the application were carefully taken into account.

  • ‘Not all data is relevant to everyone, so to ensure the ease of monitoring and reporting, it is essential that the programme recognises what the users of different areas of responsibility most likely require. The less often the user needs to click something, the better,’ says Levonen.

An experienced professional with forty years of application development experience, Levonen also sees the low code solution as something of a challenge. At times, the tools offered by this packet are a bit limited for an experienced coder.

  • ‘The implementation of some of the features may take more time than it would with traditional development tools,’ says Levonen.

Tero Palonen and Jani Henriksson, head of Netum's data and integrations unit

Agile reporting

The Regional State Administrative Agency has a few dozen experts responsible for resource allocation nationwide, but with the new monitoring tool, almost anyone out of the nearly five hundred occupational safety and health agency’s employees can carry out Power BI reports in the future. Palonen from the Regional State Administrative Agency is already eagerly waiting for the solution to be deployed.

  • ‘The application allows more than one person to use the system simultaneously, which will prevent the generation of bottlenecks with reporting,’ says Palonen.

The production phase is almost finished. The development phase and deployment are followed by maintenance phase. Palonen wants to thank Netum for understanding the nature and scale of the Regional State Administrative Agency’s operations also when planning the maintenance. 

  • ‘Netum’s professionals understand the scale and resources of the Regional State Administrative Agency’s operations and they have not overscaled the services they provide for us. This is further proof of Netum’s experience and professionalism,’ says Palonen.

The Regional State Administrative agency also praises the smooth cooperation and communication. The project has progressed smoothly and according to expectations.

  • ‘It has been a pleasure to work together with Netum’s people. There have been no issues with communication, even when it mainly took place in remote meetings,’ says Palonen.