100% data-driven decisions have become a reality at Vinnova
Vinnova is Sweden’s innovation agency. Its mission is to make Sweden an innovation force to be reckoned with in a sustainable world. The agency’s projects have helped thousands of Swedish organizations, and its funding programs are extensive.
Every year, Vinnova takes on new projects, initiatives and organizations. This also causes the amount of data at the agency to grow exponentially. These data can be decisive in the selection of future ventures. Information is power – but only if we use it. It was this that launched Enfo and Vinnova’s joint journey over a decade ago – a shared vision of an organization that is 100% data-driven.
The lack of consensus created uncertainty
Access to information has never been a problem for Vinnova. On the contrary, the amount of information created uncertainty within the organization. When work began over 10 years ago, the agency lacked an overall picture of key figures or business-critical information. There were also no common definitions of concepts. Different systems showed different figures. This led to uncertainty among Vinnova’s employees. They couldn’t really trust the information, nor did they feel able to keep track of their project-related figures. They couldn’t really be certain that they were actually basing their decisions on 100% accurate and up-to-date data.
For a public authority with extremely competent employees who also handle very complex tasks, this was not a desirable situation. There were a lot of personal Excel sheets floating around the organization, and a great deal of time was spent discussing whose truth was actually reality. As a result, the agency’s information was not really useable. Vinnova was thus unable to harness the power of the data to which it had access. Vinnova wanted to change this through the collaboration that was launched with Enfo.
“If we had waited for all the details, we would never have gotten started. Here Enfo’s experts have helped us to establish a long-term plan, while also daring to figure things out as we go along. And the beauty of the collaboration is that we have made the entire journey together, and we trust each other 100%,” says Peter Eriksson, head of operational development at Vinnova.
The beauty of the collaboration is that we have made the entire journey together, and we trust each other 100%.
A data warehouse yielded a common truth
To help Vinnova harness the power of its data, Enfo’s team created a data warehouse that enabled the integration of all the agency’s various systems – but its most important function was the establishment of common definitions of what is the truth. The use of data warehouses is a proven method for integrating data from multiple sources systematically and centrally. The result is increased access, seamless integration, and better opportunities to refine data, thus increasing its business value within an organization.
Previously, Vinnova lacked a consensus on its figures because everyone had their own Excel sheets and their own way to pick out their data from various systems. This created uncertainty. Now everyone had a common database, which in turn retrieved the information from the correct source.
This foundation created security in the form of a common truth. The next step was to ensure that this truth could actually be used by employees who are not analysts. It needed to be simple and accessible. That’s why Enfo’s analytics team implemented a solution for visualizing the information from the data warehouse via Qlik Sense.
This self-service solution makes it easy for all employees to actually use the information in their daily work. Now no one has to wait for IT or an analyst to produce figures and data; each administrator can do that her/himself. Not only does this save an enormous amount of time, it also creates the conditions for making better and more informed decisions.
One example is the work of collecting data for the annual report. This used to be a very laborious process, but with the implementation of the data warehouse and the use of a seamless application, the act of data collection itself can be shortened to just a few minutes. This frees up time for much more strategic work.
“In the past, it took several months to compile an annual report. Although it is still a big and extensive job, the actual compilation of the data took only 10 minutes this year, thanks to the annual report app that’s now available. That’s a huge time difference,” declares David Ardai Jansson, a solution architect at Enfo.
Enfo’s expertise and ability to develop the solution in small steps in collaboration with us has created a secure and scalable solution that has left us room to grow.
All decisions at Vinnova are now data-driven
Vinnova receives thousands of applications every year. The applications must be assessed in a uniform and comprehensive manner. To do this, the agency engages employees from different areas in each assessment. These employees have different profiles and backgrounds. In the past, it was difficult and very time-consuming to find and collect these various profiles into a common assessment group. Today this process is data-driven and easy.
“To find suitable assessors, we combine information from profiles created by our more than 2,000 assessors, with information from our case management system about their past involvement. By combining data like this, we can find suitable assessors in a way that would previously have been completely unthinkable. That saves a lot of time and also improves the quality of our work,” shares Vinnova’s Peter Eriksson.
Vinnova’s vision of a 100% data-driven organization is no longer just a dream; it’s largely a reality. All employees can now make strategic, data-based decisions. Anyone who needs it can now easily access up-to-date information in a single location. Today, Vinnova has a common truth and can instead devote time and effort to its core activity – increasing innovation capacity in Sweden. The agency is confident that its figures are correct, and can now maintain greater control over its projects and initiatives.
Develop, test and refine - a process that never ceases
But the journey continues for Vinnova and Enfo. With continuous improvements, Enfo will continue to develop and refine the solution. This has been Enfo’s approach since Day One: to remain agile and focus on small changes that can quickly generate great value. The journey to 100% data-driven operations is not a “Big Bang” situation; it entails many short-term iterations and the ability to continuously develop, test and refine.
“Enfo’s expertise and ability to develop the solution in small steps together with us has created a secure and scalable solution that leaves us room to grow. New applications are constantly being added so that we can continue our journey towards becoming a 100% data-driven organization,” continues Peter Eriksson.
Three tips for starting your journey towards a data-driven approach to working
Below, Vinnova’s Peter Eriksson offers advice on how best to start your journey towards a data-driven approach to working.
- Be agile! Dare to do the work step-by-step and figure things out as you go. Don’t wait to get a full picture of how everything might look in detail. Start with one area, test something, and continue to the next step if it works.
- See the value of data! Decide that data-driven work is the only way to go. As you gain more insights, you’ll realize that there’s really no alternative.
- Choose the right people! Think of this as a development project, rather than an IT or analysis project. Have dedicated operational development managers who have development and processes in their DNA. In the end, that will make it easier to succeed in getting all your users on board.
Vinnova is Sweden’s innovation agency. Its mission is to increase Sweden’s innovation capacity and contribute to sustainable growth.
With just over 200 employees, Vinnova stimulates collaborations that combine knowledge and expertise from various sources and through which organizations can learn from each other. Vinnova’s support gives companies and organizations the opportunity to experiment and test new ideas before they become profitable. Every year Vinnova invests approximately SEK 3 billion in research and innovation.