The long-standing cooperation between the Confederation of Finnish Industries (Elinkeinoelämän keskusliitto, EK for short) and HiQ provided a natural basis for discussions when the development needs of labor statistics became topical. EK's wish was to find a partner to create a flexible and reliable system, from user interface design to system implementation and maintenance to further development.
Legal industrial actions usually arise in a situation where a representative of the employee trade union and the employers' organization representing employers cannot reach an agreement on the terms of the collective agreement, for example on salary. If the negotiations do not progress for one reason or another, either the trade union representing the employees or the employer's union representing the employer can initiate industrial action. Monitoring the quantity of these incidents is important for EK. The collected data is submitted to Statistics Finland for Finland's official labor statistics.
For a long time, the recording of labor disputes and the observation of new conflicts were based on manual labor, which slowed down the process and exposed the work steps to human error. Official information about possible disputes was often received when the situation had already subsided. The old way of doing things didn’t support data archiving or further utilization.
The project’s goal from the start was clear: the digitization of the recording of industrial disputes. We started with an agile scrum project, and with the help of tight sprints, the details of the system and the implementation method were clarified. Close contact with EK kept communication and team spirit good and enabled creative ways of working: for example in one sprint retrospective, observations were made with the help of Lego blocks.
Legos in use on the project. Legos in use on the project.
During the project, EK's and HiQ's project teams were in very close contact. Thanks to that, we were always aware of the project status and needs. The creators really wanted to understand the customer's world - the core of Finnish labor market activity - and solutions were sought together.
Economist and product owner, EKTerhi Heikkonen
"During the project, EK's and HiQ's project teams were in very close contact. Thanks to that, we were always aware of the project status and needs. The creators really wanted to understand the customer's world - the core of Finnish labor market activity - and solutions were sought together”, says Terhi Heikkonen, EK’s economist and product owner.
The system was decided to implement with a technical configuration already familiar from the previous solution produced for EK: a smart React browser application on top of a customized Nodejs based backend system operating in Azure, utilizing Azure's cloud resources. All was done in accordance with Azure's best practices, utilizing Azure's DevOps toolkit with test automation and release pipelines. Azure environments were established using Azure Resource Manager from the beginning of development, and the choices and changes regarding infrastructure were also made visible and under version control.
The project as a whole was very pleasant to implement. It was easy to have discussions with EK's responsible persons and they participated very actively in all phases of the project.
Software Developer, HiQJuha Suomela
"The project as a whole was very pleasant to implement. It was easy to have discussions with EK's responsible persons and they participated very actively in all phases of the project", describes one of the main developers of the project, HiQ's Software Developer Juha Suomela.
Thanks to the new system, it's now easy to get notified when the threat of a labor dispute appears for the first time, and the information is quickly forwarded to the parties involved between the company, the union and EK. The browser-based form enables you to fill in the information quickly. The form has built-in instructions and validations and also intelligently provides suitable TES for notifications from different unions. The information is automatically saved in the database and is always up-to-date and available.
"It was important for the customer that filling out the form was as effortless as possible, in order to make the threshold for reporting industrial disputes as low as possible. This goal was already taken into account in the design phase when making technical solutions. Special attention was paid to form validation", says Suomela.
Cooperation continues in the form of maintenance services and small development. In addition, there is an additional module in the works, which enables the use of artificial intelligence and automation in finding and reporting future industrial disputes. The module will be completed in the spring and winter of 2023. The utilization of automation enables many new perspectives for development, and the opportunities for cooperation will continue to be diverse.
"After the project was completed, HiQ's continuous support has helped us maintain the system. We want to constantly develop our system to better meet the wishes of users, and with HiQ it has been easy and fruitful to think together about these further development ideas", thanks EK's Heikkonen.