CUSTOMER CASE | EDUCATION SECTOR

Haaga-Helia invests in automation, which saves valuable working hours

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Haaga-Helia, a private university of applied sciences, has a modern culture and strives to do things in a new way – and of course more efficiently and better. The university was interested in seeing how their operations could be developed and made more efficient with process automation, and Haaga-Helia chose Sisua Digital as their automation partner. Now, the university has benefited from automation for several years and they are planning to continue expanding it.

Haaga-Helia started their first automation project with Sisua Digital in 2019.

"Back then, robotics was still fairly new and quite few were taking advantage of it. Haaga-Helia's finance department wanted to do things in a new way, and more efficiently and better. That sparked the interest in trying out robotics," says Jani Väisänen, Haaga-Helia's Chief Accountant.

Over the years, Sisua Digital has made several automations for Haaga-Helia, most of which have been built to alleviate tasks in financial management.

"Automation supports with the financial management of projects that need to be reported to external financiers. There we have large volumes and a lot of repetitive routines and manual work. The data is repetitive and in a standard format, which makes it very suitable for robotization", describes Väisänen.

"Now we also intend to start automating some functions in the university's library. We are starting to expand robotics to other functions little by little," adds Tove Tuomela, Project Manager for CRM and RPA development of Haaga-Helia's Digital Services and information Management.

Automation helps with daily financial routines

The current automated process in financial administration supports employees in decreasing the burden from the peak workload period that comes after the month changes. Individual automations at different stages of the process make this a Human-In-The-Loop automation, where the robot starts the process at the beginning, and from where the workers then continue, after which the robot continues the work, bringing the process to a conclusion. In the automated process, robots are given “robot-like”, manual work tasks, and employees are left with more challenging tasks.

 

The robot starts the process by retrieving information from different systems, after which it makes project-specific reports in Excel. At the turn of the month, this information must be obtained as quickly as possible, and without a robot it would be impossible to do this every month, because the amount of data is too large for people to process. The robot also creates an integration platform and works as a glue between systems by retrieving information from different systems and then creating cohesive reports.

"The robot creates the reports the day after the month changes, when the source materials are available, and it then refines the information into a usable form. This saves the employees' time and, in addition, the quality of the process is more consistent. Human work does not scale into the process in the same way that the robot can do it", describes Väisänen.

The beginning of the process also includes an automation, where the robot retrieves the profit and loss statements of the projects from the accounting program, ready-to-use for the employees. This too, is an integration automation, where the robot prints the income statements needed by accounting. Thanks to the automation, employees do not have to print the statements from the system themselves.

 

As another part in the financial administration automation process, the robot searches for various invoices with their attachments and compiles one file from each invoice and its attachment. These files are needed when reporting about the projects to financiers.

"When there are a lot of payment applications or if there’s a large project at hand, this automation saves a lot of working hours and eases the workload," says Väisänen.

The accounting process ends with an automation, where the robot takes memo slips made in Excel to the accounting program. The employee enters the correct information into Excel and the robot takes care of the rest, i.e. creates the documents for accounting and deposits the attachments. It is a tedious job that requires precision, which easily leads to typing errors.

Robots alleviate workload peaks and enable doing things for which there would otherwise be no resources

As many parts as possible have been automated of the busy end of the month financial process.

"Automations have significantly freed up working hours from routine tasks. Financial administration employees have more time to help, for example, project managers with financial matters. Robots speed up handling the workload spikes and help with basic routines," describes Väisänen.

"In addition, automation has made it possible to do things for which there would otherwise not have been enough resources. For example, some things could not be done many times a month by human labor, but now a robot does it whenever necessary. Automation saves time in repetitive tasks, but also enables things that could otherwise not be done," Väisänen adds.

As a side effect, operating methods have also been harmonized. Due to automation, similar data formats must be used, which eliminates the varying data formats caused by different users.

The successful cooperation continues and Haaga-Helia is already expanding robotics to other functions

The cooperation between Sisua Digital and Haaga-Helia has gone well.

"So far, the experience has been really positive. The cooperation has been good and we have systematically taken RPA forward with the SCRUM model, which has been a particularly effective model. Development at Sisua's end has been active. The ticketing system has also worked well if the consultants have not been online," Tuomela describes the cooperation.

"The experiences have been good and the operation has been professional. Sisua's expert Arno has gotten on board fast, even though the financial administration processes are probably not already familiar, but it’s been rapidly understood in which matter we seek help. We have been able to reach Sisua's employees quickly and they have also reacted swiftly to our requests. Things run even smoother, when there is continuity in the operations and same people are working in the projects," adds Väisänen.

Haaga-Helia plans to continue using robotics. The university recognizes the advantages of automation and wants to take it forward even more.

"Our intention is to map whether there is still something on the financial administration side that could be eased by automation. Then we have already started to develop automations, for example, on the library side, but there are already other functions under consideration," says Tuomela.

"Automation development is an important matter, in which we want to invest in and map out needs and introduce tools that make work more efficient. There is a lot of potential and opportunities to take. I believe that when we get even more awareness in the house that there are such opportunities, needs will certainly emerge", Tuomela adds.

Author: Paiju Koivula

What was achieved

Automation benefits

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About the company

Haaga-Helia

Haaga-Helia is a private university of applied sciences that offers educational training to become specialists in business and service industries. The university also researches and develops activities and know-how related to these fields. Haaga-Helia operates on five different campuses in Helsinki, Porvoo and Vierumäki. The university has 11,000 students and 731 specialists.

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