Attendo is the leading private provider of public housing and care services in the Nordic countries. Having identified the need to modernise its operating methods, Attendo focuses strongly on knowledge management. For this journey of change, Attendo recruited Ambientia as its digital guide.
Attendo’s services cover various stages of the human life cycle. Attendo homes accommodate child welfare clients, elderly people, and people with disabilities, mental health, or substance abuse issues. The question is: how can the care sector make the best out of digitalisation when the work is all about person-to-person caregiving?
Jukka-Pekka Luhanko, ICT Director at Attendo, says that knowledge management is embedded in the company's IT strategy: Attendo believes that the care sector will benefit from smarter, further processed information. However, they don't want to wade through unnecessary digital gates:
"We have a policy that no IT project should be started unless it makes our everyday work easier in some way," he says.
A partnership that makes a difference
There are more than 400 Attendo homes in Finland, from Hanko to Ivalo, with around 12 000 people living in them. Attendo's success is largely driven by the managers of the Attendo homes, who should base their decisions on up-to-date information. To do this, they needed a knowledge management tool that would make their workdays easier.
Luhanko says that in early 2022, Attendo had discussions with several IT providers about the optimal solution. The aim was to create a one-stop tool for Attendo home managers: a dashboard that would show at a glance how things are going and where the course must be corrected.
"We wanted a day-to-day management tool that functions in real-time," Luhanko sums up.
He tells that finding an IT partner with the same wavelength was a challenge. The tone of the conversations revealed that at least some of the IT providers saw Attendo's project as a small-scale exercise.
"Those negotiations ended very soon," says Luhanko.
Genuine dialogue right from the start
According to the ICT Director, Ambientia stood out from the crowd because of their excellent attitude: Luhanko had a fruitful, sparring dialogue with the team, and soon it was clear – from both sides – that there was potential for a successful partnership.
"Ambientia understood our starting points and requirements very quickly. They were immediately interested in developing a new kind of industry," says Luhanko.
"We realised that here we have a partner who can help us improve our core business."
What’s going on inside an Attendo house?
By autumn 2022, Ambientia had built an Azure-based data platform and metrics that allow Attendo home managers to constantly have the most critical data at their fingertips: number of beds sold/unsold, staff sickness absence, and employee dimension ratio (with any deviations).
Niina Nykänen, Head of Data & Insight at Ambientia, says that the team was excited to work on a project that had a lot of potential.
"It was a pleasure to embark on this project, knowing all along that our work would have a big impact on Attendo's operations and everyday life," says Nykänen, adding that the project was a collaborative effort from start to finish.
"It was very rewarding to work with the people at Attendo, as they were truly open and helpful, and the whole organisation showed interest in the project."
What a treat it was: an opportunity to integrate key operational systems in a way that delivers hard value to managers. Petri Manninen, Industry Lead at Ambientia, says he found the project immediately exciting and inspiring.
"We knew we could bring our own strong vision and excellent technical execution to this project."
The snowball effect escalated
The common thread of the project was user-centred service design: how to focus on desired benefits, leaving out the nonsense?
Jukka-Pekka Luhanko says that the first set of metrics was chosen based on the areas that are most necessary in everyday situations. When managers got access to the tool at the end of 2022, they immediately adopted it:
"The data platform started to sell itself. We quickly got messages from the field asking if it would be possible to get such and such add-ons," he says.
Pure data instead of a gut feeling
The official release date of the new tool was 16 March 2023. Its name, Motti, says something essential about Attendo – Motti is not only a term associated with efficient wood chopping, but "M.O.T." is also the Finnish equivalent for "Q.E.D." ("quod erat demonstrandum", "which was to be demonstrated").
"The name Motti was chosen through an internal naming contest and is based on one of the company's mottos: data instead of gut feeling," explains Hilla Kauhanen, Attendo's Development Manager.
After the official launch of Motti, Luhanko and Kauhanen are pleased to say that their organisation has adopted the "short syllabus" of data management extremely well and they can now plan new steps with confidence.
"This was a successful kick-off for a new way of knowledge management and leadership. In the future, we want to use the system as an integration platform and also for data storage," says Luhanko.
Considerate steps forward
Both common sense and caution are needed: if you try to do too much too fast, speed blindness will likely drive you off the road.
"For this reason, we have not yet included financial data in the platform at all. We will be very considerate with the amount of data we add," says Luhanko.
"We did not want the data platform to become a burden on its users, but to add value instead. This journey has been a success by far, and the platform has been well adopted," says Kauhanen.
Luhanko adds that the "exceptionally good" user feedback will encourage them to develop the system further in the near future.
"The data platform is currently only used in elderly services, but there is interest in extending it to mental health, disability and catering units as well."
Overcoming shared challenges
Along the way, Ambientia has also become a partner for the entire Attendo Group – at the moment we build a similar dashboard solution to be used in Sweden. Luhanko and Kauhanen applaud Ambientia's approach:
"The Ambientia team brought straightforward, agile methodologies to this project and provided us with the genuine partnership we wanted. We have solved challenges together, in an open communication culture," says Kauhanen.
"The most important thing about collaboration is that in all circumstances we can rely on Ambientia to find the solution that works best for that particular case."
A stepping stone for the future
Niina Nykänen and Petri Manninen of Ambientia emphasize two things about the project. Firstly, a technical foundation now enables Attendo to develop its knowledge management far into the future.
"Secondly, the systems have been designed to be so user-friendly that they take a minimum of time to use - allowing caregivers to focus on the essential," says Manninen.
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