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Case University of Oulu

Who shouts the loudest” does not work in the long run – a well-functioning information management model is created through cooperation and professional facilitation

When a centralised team is responsible for meeting the information needs of multiple stakeholders, you need a clear, jointly built operational model to ensure that the work runs smoothly and everyone's needs can be met in a jointly agreed schedule and order. In the ICT services of the University of Oulu, data mining will soon have as its backbone an information management model that was created through cooperation between information system services, its stakeholders and Digia's experts, with the aim of ensuring that everyone gets the benefits they need in respect of data. 


One of the important tasks of universities is to produce new knowledge through research, but information is also intrinsically linked to the management of the operations of a large organisation – data is needed to support management. The University of Oulu has been promoting knowledge-based management on a long-term basis, but the challenges related to the limited resources of a centralised IT organisation and the lack of a clear operational model have affected the generation of management reporting. Some ICT service stakeholders have carried out reporting-related work independently at least to some extent, but some have relied entirely on the reporting work of the information system services. 

 “Random and incomplete requests for information have made the work of the information systems team more difficult,” Mira Tiilikainen says. “Prioritising requests was difficult, and stakeholders often did not specify information requests at a detailed level or did not test the ready-made reports at all. The entire university struggled with the situation where the needs of stakeholders could not be met with sufficient efficiency and speed.” 

 The model for information generation and management required improvement, and Digia's team of experts was able to help with this. 

 “The chaotic situation was discussed with Digia in connection with another project, and it turned out that Digia could support us in forming a well-functioning operational model,” Tiilikainen says. “We already had very positive experiences from cooperation with Digia. Digia's solution proposal was a well-structured, logical entity with a reasonable price. However, price was not the most significant factor in this case because there was such an acute need for the model.”

What we did

  • Information management model

What we used

  • Business Consulting

With the jointly built model, our stakeholders can trust that information requests are prioritised appropriately and they will have more opportunities for self-service reporting. The feedback on the new model has been nothing but positive.

Mira Tiilikainen, Information Systems Manager at ICT Services, University of Oulu

From the Who Shouts the Loudest model to a joint process and independent work

To facilitate knowledge work, a new information management model was created, with the model specifying the limits for implementing information requests submitted to the information system services and for supporting independent reporting by stakeholders. 

The work began with extensive stakeholder interviews, where each party submitting information requests was able to describe their own needs. The interviews helped form an overall understanding of the development targets, on the basis of which the practices and structures of the new model were created in joint workshops. A roadmap that included the implementation steps was also created for the model. 

The backbone of the model is a clear process according to which incoming information requests are prioritised and processed so that stakeholders can be provided with the right information as timely as possible. The process defined separate steps for testing, information security and documentation in order to systematically ensure functionality and security in reporting. When information requests go through each step of the process, you can be sure that all necessary factors are taken into account. 

Requests for information will be prioritised by a new cooperation forum to which stakeholders will appoint representatives. This ensures that the needs of each stakeholder are taken into account in prioritisation.  

“All the actual work related to data can be carried out within the team, but we cannot do the prioritisation because we do not have sufficient visibility into the activities and needs of our stakeholders. When prioritisation is done in an appropriate manner, the team can focus on the right things at the right time, and we can also plan our operations at a completely different level,” Tiilikainen says. 


More efficiency through independent work

Some of the stakeholders were already almost self-sufficient in terms of reporting, and the aim of the new operational model is to support independent work as much as possible. This enables stakeholders to work more efficiently if they are willing to do so, and the centralised team provides support as needed. 

Independent reporting by stakeholders is promoted through multiple small actions. Currently, persons who are interested in working with data are guided to develop their skills through training, and advice and support are available through jointly defined channels. Each stakeholder is assigned a dedicated “main user” who supports the implementation of reporting. Templates matching the specifications guarantee the uniformity of documentation, and data protection practices are taken into account in a predefined and timely manner. Going forward, these measures will enable stakeholders to move towards more self-sufficient work involving data. 

“This allows stakeholders to do more in accordance with their own schedules,” Tiilikainen says. 

Cooperation is easier with professional support

Tiilikainen emphasises the importance of cooperation and stakeholder involvement in the model creation. External skilled facilitation helped get all parties to commit to the project. 

“If the operational model is not accepted by everyone, work will be difficult and everyone will suffer. In the stakeholder interviews, all stakeholders were able to share their own views, which also strengthens their commitment to comply with the model. Now we also have a better understanding of the stakeholders' views, which means that the interviews also provided us with added value.” 

Tiilikainen is pleased with the easy and smooth cooperation with Digia. “We find that working with Digia has been a very positive experience. Digia has listened carefully to us and suggested improvements whenever necessary. I would definitely recommend Digia as a partner for similar projects.” 

“The new operational model clearly specifies the responsibilities of each party whenever new information needs arise. Previously, we were lacking a clear operational model that would describe the responsibilities of various parties. Going forward, the operational model will enable us to operate more efficiently and with higher quality,” Tiilikainen says.  

“We believe that once the operational model is fully deployed, we will see positive changes.”