IT system brings paperless decision-making to Helsinki
The City of Helsinki is the first municipality in Finland to adopt an electronic case management system, which covers all active bodies and departments participating in decision-making. A total of 5 000 people were transferred to Ahjo during the summer 2011.
“When a case is initiated, it gets recorded at the registry office located in the town hall. The registry office forwards the case for drafting to the appropriate department electronically. The drafting official uses the system to request statements from active bodies or other departments. After the statements are collected, the case handler makes a decision or presents the case in a meeting to an active body, where the case is handled electronically. In other words, trustees will also enter their change proposals using the system. The decision is also recorded in the system, so the process uses no paper,” says administrative director for the City of Helsinki, Eila Ratasvuori, commenting on the Ahjo system.
Ratasvuori emphasizes that in addition to being environmentally friendly and cost efficient, the transparency of decision-making is an essential characteristic of the system. The whole process of drafting cases, including all phases from initiation to the decision, is visible to all participants in the drafting process. In addition, municipality residents and the media can get information on cases under consideration from a single location, the town hall registry office. The system enables the provision of information in an electronic format regarding cases that are being handled and decisions already made.
Openness, fluency and innovativeness
A comprehensive case management system that makes the entire decision-making process gapless and electronic is unique in the municipal sector.
“Helsinki has made a considerable investment in the system. We are talking about a large and comprehensive, beneficial project. We are satisfied with the system. After all, it revolutionizes the transparency of decision-making. Openness helps prevent corruption, and corruption, on the other hand, is directly related to the efficiency and productivity of society,” Ratasvuori says.
The system has aroused interest in other municipalities in Finland and neighbouring countries. The administrative director says that the format and content of documents produced by Ahjo have received praise. The personnel feel they are easy to read and simple to use. The system adds to the fluency of work, focuses the use of working hours on relevant tasks, and enables transferring resources to the areas where they are needed most.
“Our aim is to also make personnel savings. We no longer need to transport documents to trustees or from one department to another, and the registry office no longer requires the same number of personnel as it did previously when registry work was scattered across different departments. With the system, we estimate the number of technical support personnel will be reduced as the system’s usability is developed further,” Ratasvuori says.
Carbon footprint to be reduced
With the help of Ahjo, Helsinki will look to decrease its impact on the environment as well as the working hours of its employees. The administrative director estimates that the Administration Centre alone will reduce its paper consumption by four million pages in comparison to previous years. To this amount can be added the paper savings of other departments and active bodies.
The administrative director emphasises that ways of thinking regarding attitudes to printing, technology and communications are changing. Helsinki has entered a new era.