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Case Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland

Growth requires openness – public corporate services share customer details on a common system

Kasvu CRM is an unusually extensive project where a common customer relationship management system was built for state organisations offering corporate services. Six entities under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland now use the same system, as does the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Kasvu CRM, which was delivered by Digia, currently has approximately 1,800 users. The joint platform streamlines the way customer data is shared and significantly improves customer service.


Digitalisation is at its best when information systems can dramatically improve collaboration between organisations and create more effective customer service on a societal level. The project was owned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland and involved building a common customer relationship management system for several organisations. The new Kasvu CRM system is used by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, as well as Business Finland, TE offices, Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, Finnvera and the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes), which operate under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland.

The purpose of having a common platform is to facilitate information exchange within public sector organisations that serve businesses and companies. The system consolidates information about corporate customers, their statuses and needs, and actions taken.

What we did

What we used

In the CRM field, there are not many suppliers who are capable of providing such large and challenging entities. Digia was selected as the best option in terms of overall value for money, and it was also an expert option.

Jukka Suokas, Finnvera

Common view of customer information

Previously, the state’s corporate service entities all had separate systems and different operating models for collecting customer information. Organisations dealing with the same customers did not have direct access to each other’s records. Kasvu CRM provides an overview of the statuses of shared corporate customers.

“The intention is for all entities to have access to the same information and see which actions have been taken with a certain customer,” says Jukka Suokas, who acted as the chair of the project’s steering group before transferring from his position as Stakeholder Manager at Finnvera to Business Finland’s office in Oslo, Norway in August.

“A common system also makes things much easier for customers: they no longer need to provide the same information to several entities and they do not need to answer five phone calls from different organisations,” Suokas says.

“If a customer company approaches one of the organisations with a development idea, the person responsible for the customer can assess whether the company primarily needs service from Finnvera, Business Finland or a Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. If the number of personnel employed by the company begins to grow, it may also need the help of a TE office.”

“Finland’s unique Team Finland export collaboration concept will become much better integrated thanks to the CRM system, which has now entered the deployment phase,” says Juha Markkanen, Trade Ambassador from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

The common CRM system will enable Finnish companies to receive assistance efficiently “through the same funnel” from the Finnish regions and out into the world. In the regions, companies are served by Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment and TE offices. Internationally, companies can receive service from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland’s comprehensive global network of approximately 90 foreign representation offices as well as Business Finland’s experts working abroad.

“Kasvu CRM is the glue that holds the entities together, strengthening customer service and positive customer experiences and significantly enhancing internal collaboration between entities,” says Kirsi Wendelin-Arponen, Customer Relationship Manager from the Southwest Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment.

“Kasvu CRM is also playing a major role in Tukes’ architecture overhaul projects,” says Jussi Hytönen, a Coordinator at Tukes.

Customers will notice the CRM system in the form of a more efficient and pleasant service experience. Excess bureaucracy will be reduced and services will focus on matters of relevance. Customer service agents will be able to work appropriately when they can see the company’s service history and know what is happening.

A challenging setup requires a common goal

Kasvu CRM is an unusual system project due to the scope of the project and the large number of entities involved. The project began in autumn 2016, and it has required commitment, work and patience from all of the parties involved.

“It is not a typical situation to have so many organisations involved, all of them starting with different aims. It took some time before we could identify common operating models,” says Harri Eskola, Development Director from Business Finland.

“Everyone was aware how challenging it would be, so we knew how to approach it. First, we needed to identify a common goal and articulate why we had embarked on such a major change.”

“Our collaboration was facilitated by the fact that there was such a clear justification for changing the way we operated,” says Tomi Rauste, Senior Director of Customer Experience at Business Finland. Rauste is presently the chair of the project steering group.

“The entity aims to create a better customer experience and help information to flow more smoothly – this benefits everyone. We have been collaborating for a couple of years now, so the foundations for development are strong.”

Deployment began in May 2018 and it has gone better than expected. Kasvu CRM currently has approximately 1,800 users and the utilisation rate is increasing all the time. The new system is mainly used by people working in customer interaction.

For a year now, Digia’s experts and the organisations themselves have been training people all over Finland on how to use the system. Some of the old systems are still operating in parallel with the new one until all of the necessary data and processes can be transferred to the new model.

A big surprise: the project came in on budget

“In terms of the success of the project, one of the most important decisions was to select an off-the-shelf software package as the platform. If we had opted for a tailored version, it may not yet be complete,” considers Jukka Suokas.

“We strove to deploy the software with as few changes as possible. The starting points are the companies’ requirements and what we can do for them.”

“Public sector system projects are often unnecessarily complicated. Why shouldn’t the state’s services operate on the same software that other organisations use?” Suokas wonders.

Microsoft Dynamics, supplied by Digia, was selected as the technology for Kasvu CRM as it has proven itself suitable for corporate services. A few integrations were made with the system: for example, all of the customer information associated with business IDs was imported from the Business Information System.

“In the CRM field, there are not many suppliers who are capable of providing such large and challenging entities. Digia was selected as the best option in terms of overall value for money, and it was also an expert option,” Suokas says.

“This project has taught us a lot about collaboration and information exchange. One thing I noticed was that nothing should be presumed. Ask and tell: on large projects, there is no such thing as too much information exchanged.”

“Although the project overran its schedule, we succeeded in keeping to the budget, which is rare for projects like this,” Eskola says.

Tomi Rauste says that Kasvu CRM is constantly undergoing further development.

“The roadmap contains a long list of features. There must be a willingness to make changes, not least because legislation and operating areas are constantly evolving.”

“‘Kasvu’ means ‘growth’ in Finnish, and it refers to the fact that the system aims to promote faster growth among Finnish companies and support internationalisation. A small country cannot afford to waste resources by having everyone work on the same things separately,” summarises Harri Eskola.

Flexible systems adapt to different situations

The purpose of the business services operating under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland is to help companies succeed and expand in Finland and internationally.

“Digital development and cross-linking services are becoming increasingly common in public services for business. Kasvu CRM marks a significant initiative in this regard,” says Petri Peltonen, Undersecretary from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland.

“In addition to handling the information technology challenges, it is our job to ensure that legislation enables services to be harmonised. Some of the entities are bound by legislation restricting the exchange of information with other authorities. We want to break down these barriers, as keeping data segregated is not the modern way to do things.”

According to Peltonen, system solutions for public services should be as organisation-independent as possible. In the best case, information systems will adapt fluidly to changing situations.

“It remains something of a weakness in the public sector that the administrative branches have developed their own, narrowly-defined information systems,” says Peltonen.

“Kasvu CRM is a good example of a jointly-used system that serves several different organisations. This type of solution enables structural changes without requiring large-scale technical overhauls.”

Petri Peltonen points out that digitalisation is not an end in itself – it is one tool for improving operations and service.

“The ideal scenario is when there is no need to pay any attention to the information system. It is a ‘cornerstone’ operating in the background to maintain the package as a whole. At the same time, the platform needs to be strong enough to enable development.”

“Information systems play an important role in boosting the efficiency of customer service and the work of the authorities. This frees up resources so human input can be allocated where it is needed.”