Automation was a tool to improve efficiency at Hoas


Hoas was a pioneer in the housing and construction sector when they implemented software robotics already back in 2017. The foundation wanted to invest in improving its operations and streamline the use of its old ERP system before moving to a new one. With automation, Hoas halved the housing applications processing time, improved overall customer service, increased efficiency and improved job satisfaction.

Hoas became interested in robotics in 2016. The interest in this emerging technology at the time stemmed from the Foundation’s strong desire to invest in developing their operations.

"Together with the management team, we saw that Hoas had a lot of repetitive and cyclical work that was very time-consuming. These routine tasks were affecting the level of customer service and we wanted to start improving it," says Matti Tarhio, Hoas CEO.

"The enthusiasm for using robotics was boosted when I discussed with Jorma Eloranta, (an Industry Counsellor). We started to map out companies that were pioneers in robotics, which is when Sisua Digital (formerly Korkia) came up," Tarhio continues.

The cooperation started in 2016 with a workshop organised by Sisua, from which the first automation target arose – the processing of housing applications. This process was laborious and took a lot of resources from Hoas.

"During the summer months, there might be more than 1,000 applications in a single day, which had to be checked and clarified. There is a huge amount of internal work involved in the process that is not visible to the customer. A robot was developed to help with the different stages of the application process," says Tarhio.

The summer peak season put a strain on the customer service specialists and when the applications were handled manually, the processing was slow. The implementation of the robot halved the housing application processing time and the customers thus also received information about obtaining an apartment more quickly.

"With the automation, we were able to offer apartments to customers faster. This was also reflected in improving the occupancy rate of the apartments," states Tarhio.

Using the robot in the application processing was a huge success, which also received a lot of publicity. In 2017, robotics was still a brand new technology that few companies used.

"Using robotics brought us a huge amount of publicity and promoted our brand as pioneers in the field. At that time, robotics was not yet used in the construction and real estate industry, so we were the first in Finland to do so. Robotics was the most covered topic for us in 2017, which only resulted in positive communication," says Tarhio.

The use of automation was also extended to other processes

Hoas set out to expand the use of automation and over the years, Sisua Digital built around 20 automations for the foundation. The majority, about 75%, of these automations were related to customer service and the rest to financial management or other internal processes.

"Automation made customer service faster and improved its quality. For example, we were able to process things with the robot during the night and weekends, as if we were working around the clock," describes Tarhio.

"Another key result was that we were able to improve our operational efficiency. Robots were used in dull, routine back-end tasks that tied up our resources," Tarhio continues.

Improving the meaningfulness of work was also an important result achieved with automation.

"It was reflected in customer satisfaction, the office's performance and the meaningfulness of the work. Frustrating work phases decreased and employee satisfaction improved. The quality level also improved when the number of human errors decreased," explains Tarhio.

"The employees were extremely positive about robotics. It was not perceived as a threat but as a positive thing. Employees were happy to focus more on the work directed towards the customer, and didn’t need to spend time on back-end work such as checking credit information or going through applications," continues Tarhio.

"For example, several years consecutively we have received the Great place to work award, which was certainly positively affected by these technological developments," Tarhio mentions.

Robotics enhanced the efficiency during the transitional phase of the new ERP system

The implementation of robotics was also influenced by the transition to a new ERP system.

"We were in the process of upgrading our ERP system, and robotics provided a more efficient utilization of the old system. It was well-suited for the transitional phase and greatly increased our efficiency," explains Tarhio.

By leveraging robotics, organizations can ensure effective continuity during the period of designing and implementing the new system. Automation allows resources to be freed from manual operational tasks, enabling them to focus on the design and implementation of the new system. Robots can be developed quickly to address the changing challenges organizations face.

With the new system was implemented, the need for robotics decreased, and the robots that served meritoriously were able to retire at the beginning of 2023.

"In the long run, the need for automation may arise again in a year or two. Technology is often key in solving the challenges of the future. All companies should have artificial intelligence, robotics and sustainability in their planning. At Hoas, we have studied artificial intelligence and utilized it in marketing communications, and I believe that in the coming year we will start to investigate more closely where it can be utilized. It has so much potential", says Tarhio.

The many years of cooperation went well and Sisua Digital was selected as Hoas’ Partner of the Year in 2019.

"The cooperation went smoothly. It was strong and dynamic, especially in the beginning we made really big changes. We got a lot done in a very short time", describes Tarhio.

"We have an event every May Day, where we invite stakeholders and reward our exceptionally good and competent stakeholders, because we want to take them into account. Sisua Digital was selected as the Partner of the Year because we implemented automation with remarkable success, so we wanted to highlight a good partner from our side", explains Tarhio.

Author: Paiju Koivula

What was achieved

Automation benefits


About the company


Hoas is a student housing foundation established in 1969, which offers students rental apartments near their places of study. Hoas has more than 10,000 apartments in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen. The activities of the non-profit foundation include the student unions of the University of Helsinki and Aalto University, as well as 10 other student unions.

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