CASE FINGRID

Fingrid is one of the most critical operators in Finnish society – Digia updated the company’s financial management and is developing digitalisation as Fingrid’s strategic partner

Fingrid is responsible for Finland’s main electricity grid and is one of the country’s most critical operators from the perspective of both society and climate action. Fingrid needed to update their financial management systems and improve the efficiency of managing large investments. The company was also looking for a long-term digitalisation development partner. Digia’s ERP project was a resounding success, says Fingrid’s Chief Financial Officer Jan Montell.

It is difficult to think of a company that is more critical to Finnish society than Fingrid. The company is responsible for the main grid that transfers electricity between different regions, power companies, large industrial companies and other countries. Modern society struggles to function for even a short period of time without electricity, but ensuring its availability is much more challenging than many people realise.

“The production and consumption of electricity need to be balanced constantly. If they fall out of balance, what follows is an enormous power cut,” explains Fingrid’s Chief Financial Officer Jan Montell. Fingrid is responsible for maintaining this delicate balance.

Fingrid also has a decisive role in helping the country achieve its climate objectives. Montel explains that wind and solar power – which experience large swings in production – can only be adopted to the degree that the electricity grid’s flexibility allows. “We are the platform for the fight against climate change and the promotion of a clean electricity grid in Finland,” he summarises.

All of this places significant demands on Fingrid’s information systems. “Our investment portfolio is enormous. Every year, we invest over 200 million euros in developing the Finnish main grid,” Montell says. Managing these investments and taking care of constantly growing analytics needs and transaction amounts requires excellent financial management systems.

mita-teimme.pngWhat we did

  • updated the financial management systems, including the purchase invoice processing system
  • continuous services

milla-teimme.pngWhat we used

This was a very successful project. I tend to be quite critical about things like this and hold the bar high, but this passed with flying colours.
Jan Montell, Chief Financial Officer, Fingrid

Fingrid’s financial management was previously partly outsourced, but a few years ago, the decision was made to bring it back under the company’s own operations. The company found itself needing to build completely new financial management systems, which were implemented in cooperation with Digia.

Montell explains that Fingrid organised an extensive competitive tendering process that evaluated a large number of different operators. “We were looking for a partner that was not only capable of implementing this one project but also being our long-term partner as we develop the digitalisation and automation of our processes and network more closely with electricity producers, electricity market actors and customers,” Montell says.

The selection process ultimately led to Fingrid establishing a strategic partnership with Digia. Montell says that Fingrid valued Digia’s expertise and experience in building ERP systems in the sector and implementing the high level of data security vital to Fingrid’s operations. The facts that Digia offered service in Finnish and that partnering with them would allow Fingrid to keep their digital resources within Finland’s borders also played a part in their decision.

The challenging project went perfectly

Fingrid selected the cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management solution as their new ERP system. Digia also provided Fingrid with a new invoice circulation system. In addition, Fingrid’s long-serving Microsoft Power BI reporting and analytics solution was updated.

The project was challenging in many ways, and the schedule was necessarily tight. The project was launched in summer 2020, and a complete system was needed as early as late winter 2021. Additionally, because of the critical nature of Fingrid’s business – and because Fingrid is a listed company – any risks in terms of financial management functionality were unacceptable.

The project was concluded as planned in spring 2021. “Deployment went very well. Business ran without a hitch during the process, and there were no disruptions. What’s more, service quality has improved,” says Fingrid’s Finance and Analytics Manager Mervi Marttila, who was responsible for the project’s implementation at Fingrid.

“The project went perfectly. I know from experience that IT projects don’t often get completed on schedule, but this project was an exception,” Montell says.

At the start of the project, special attention was paid to careful planning, after which the project advanced in sprints. “Digia had a very systematic way of moving forward, and their project management was extremely professional,” Marttila says. “A thorough testing phase before deployment was critical, and it was completed diligently.”

Montell and Marttila also praise the experience and competence of Digia’s experts. “Digia had the ability to see the effect individual solutions had on the whole very clearly. That’s why we were able to effectively predict what came next,” Marttila says.

“We saw an 80 per cent reduction in overtime”

Montell says that the new system has noticeably improved Fingrid’s financial management processes. “When we did our year-end financial statements with this new system, we saw an 80 per cent reduction in overtime in comparison to previous years. The efficiency of our work has really gotten a boost,” he says. Many manual stages of work have been automated.

Other benefits include the facts that analytics have developed and business activities are constantly receiving better data and reports. “It absolutely improves our ability to manage our huge investing programme and the current electricity market revolution. We’ve discovered new insights in areas like improving the cost-effectiveness and productivity of various functions. In this way, the project has a major impact on our operations,” Montell says.

Marttila explains that transitioning to a cloud-based ERP system also has benefits for Fingrid. The system is always up to date, and new features can be introduced to respond to changing business requirements.

“From the CFO’s perspective, the project went fantastically well. Digia’s attitude and expertise, as well as their systematics and project management, which are things that you need from a supplier, are excellent – not to forget our own staff’s contributions and Mervi’s leadership,” Montell says. He thanks Digia for the fact that the challenges that inevitably crop up during large projects were solved flexibly and without unnecessary difficulty in a spirit of mutual trust and strategic partnership thinking.

At the end of the project, Digia and Fingrid signed an agreement for continuous services, and the development of Fingrid’s financial management will continue in cooperation with Digia. “Our collaboration went outstandingly well. The project was completed diligently and committedly, which led to great results. Now the financial management platform is in good shape, and the data is of a high quality. This is a good footing to continue process development from,” Marttila concludes.

“This was a very successful project. I tend to be quite critical about things like this and hold the bar high, but this passed with flying colours,” Montell says.