Statistics Finland is Finland’s office of national statistics, which generates objective statistics on the Finnish society. Previously, it used to have a laborious and error-prone budgeting process based on Excel workbooks. With Intito’s assistance, the agency was able to increase productivity by adopting the IBM Planning Analytics platform. Integrations with source systems and automated computation make for effortless data management. Following deployment of the new system, Statistics Finland’s financial planning is now technically simpler, more efficient and less error prone.
Planning based on Excel workbooks was laborious and prone to errors. Budgeting required a lot of manual work. HR planning in this large organization had become complex and inefficient.
Assisted by Intito's experts, Statistics Finland adopted the IBM Planning Analytics platform. Implementation was carried out in an agile manner in close cooperation with the client.
Financial planning is now simpler, more efficient, and more user-friendly. The planning platform was integrated into Statistics Finland’s administrative data warehouse. As a result, a comprehensive body of data to support the process is readily available for planning purposes, while the planning data is readily available for reporting. Automation and integration make for effortless data management. Budgeting errors and risks were reduced through information shared by all.
Statistics Finland is Finland’s office of national statistics, which generates objective statistics on the Finnish society. It is tasked to process and compile data obtained from a wide variety of sources and turn it into statistics to support decision-making and make it available to citizens, researchers and other parties in need of such information. At the end of 2022, Statistics Finland employed a total of 811 people.
“We are a large specialist organization made up of four service areas. The service areas carry out their own operational and financial planning with the help of the financial administration, within the framework defined by management. A process involving several parties calls for coherent approaches and excellent manageability of the data. To facilitate this process, we’ve invested in planning and reporting tools. I am the product owner and system administrator of Statistics Finland’s planning and monitoring systems. IBM Planning Analytics was acquired for planning and forecasting purposes. For monitoring, we use a separate reporting portal”, says Business Controller Frans Hartman of Statistics Finland.
As a public agency, Statistics Finland prepares an annual budget and updates it throughout the year to serve as a forecast. Before the adoption of IBM Planning Analytics, Statistics Finland’s budgeting was carried out using Excel in the absence of any dedicated system. Excel-based planning was laborious and prone to errors and required a lot of manual work. Before the deployment of the new system, planning was only carried out for one year at a time. With IBM Planning Analytics now in place, the aim is to develop planning to cover a period of several years into the future.
Financial planning at Statistics Finland is carried out specifically for each unit. Separate budgets are made using drivers. For example, travel expenses can be planned based on days of travel. Moreover, financial planning covers ICT expenditure according to the items to be monitored. HR planning is based on the existing personnel. Changes to pay and duties can now be planned accurately and flexibly at the individual level. Staff changes are constant in a large organization. Previously, before the new solution, financial and human resources planning took an inordinate amount of time.
“We conducted a market survey of the available budgeting solutions. It gave us a fair idea of the options available and allowed us to redefine our requirements before putting the project out to open tender. Based on the market survey demos, IBM Planning Analytics met our needs and requirements. What was specifically attractive about the platform was clarity and the automation potential. The solution appeared the most logical and easiest to use of the options presented to us, and the user interface was visually not so far from the Excel world we were familiar with,” says Frans Hartman.
Following the round of competitive bidding, Statistics Finland awarded the contract for the deployment and implementation of the IBM Planning Analytics platform to Intito. The aim of the project was to create a high-performance, user-friendly and easy-to-maintain financial planning solution that would streamline the planning and monitoring process, minimize errors and improve analytical capabilities.
Cooperation and deployment went extremely smoothly. I wonder why IT deployment projects are being criticized so harshly. I was truly amazed to see how easy it was to accomplish.Frans Hartman, Business Controller, - Statistics Finland
The project commenced in August 2022 and IBM Planning Analytics was deployed in December 2022. Statistics Finland’s project team consisted of nine experts, aided by three consultants from Intito. The project kick-off and closing meetings were held face-to-face, but otherwise the project was carried out remotely. The work proceeded from defining the functionalities and solution content to implementation, which was carried out in an agile manner in close cooperation with Statistics Finland’s specialists.
“As a result of competitive tendering, we were able to identify a system that seemed best for us based on the market survey demos. Cooperation and deployment went extremely smoothly. This was the first time that I was responsible for this type of system acquisition. In fact, we could’ve been more critical of our existing processes from the beginning of the project. We were compelled to revise the initial specifications along the way, but Intito’s experts made the changes very quickly and flexibly. I wonder why IT deployment projects are being criticized so harshly. I was truly amazed to see how easy it was to accomplish,” says Frans Hartman.
Statistics Finland’s project team was quite large, but in the end, it was one of the keys to the success of the project. A sufficiently large number of people were able to influence the outcome in the course of the project and get to know the new planning platform. On-going and careful testing contributed to steady progress towards the hoped-for outcome. As part of the project, Intito held system induction sessions for Statistics Finland’s experts to ensure smooth deployment.
“It was a pleasure to work with Statistics Finland’s project team. They were clear about what they needed and were open to our feedback and best practices. The feedback from the tests helped us to focus on the right things, promptly identify the areas where improvements were called for and create a customized solution very quickly indeed,” says Consultant Henri Paananen of Intito’s Data & AI Team.
With the deployment of the budgeting solution, it is possible to improve the efficiency of Statistics Finland’s planning and monitoring process while making it more convenient for users. HR planning in particular, a major headache in the past, is now far more manageable and efficient. IBM Planning Analytics was integrated into Statistics Finland’s administrative data warehouse, which collects data from several source systems (such as Kieku) to support planning and monitoring. Through the data warehouse, the data is automatically transferred to IBM Planning Analytics. Automation increased productivity by leaps and bounds. Data management and processing is now much easier and simpler.
“We’re now in an excellent position to upgrade financial planning and forecasting. With the new platform, the process gets harmonized and simplified. It allows us to eliminate many of the errors that used to beset the old system. When all the data is in one place and available to all, every item becomes visible down to the smallest detail. IBM Planning Analytics is highly popular with our financial management team and other experts,” says Frans Hartman.
Cooperation with Intito will continue with the further development of the new solution. The plan is to explore the benefits of bringing a large set of baseline data into the system. Among the options being considered are the importation of project activity data and chargeable products and services (sales invoicing) data into the system. An extensive set of baseline data would make it possible to use IBM Planning Analytics for forecasting far into the future.
“It was interesting to see the solutions that Intito had developed for other customers using the same planning platform and use it as an inspiration for the further development of our own solution. Our goal is to be able to forecast revenue and expenditure structure for years ahead. Given the challenging state of the economy, advanced forecasting helps us to plan our activities and be better prepared for the future”, Frans Hartman sums up Statistics Finland’s future plans regarding financial planning.
- IBM Planning Analytics
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