Young professionals recommend focusing on teamwork as well as on data processing and usability

The NAOF's programme for young professionals is about to end. A lot has been achieved in less than two years.

Tytti Yli-Viikari, Auditor General of Finland, assigned the young professionals the largest individual development task spanning the entire programme. To put it simply, the assignment was to bring artificial intelligence (AI) to the National Audit Office of Finland.

This proved early on to be a more complex assignment than expected. Luckily we started to document observations, successes, best practices, and challenges since the beginning of the project During the process, we thus compiled data that we were able to use in the later work phases.

Our work opened up perspectives that were not limited only to the AI world. We also made observations of the work culture, cooperation, and data competence.

Effective teamwork requires identifying individual competence

Within the scope of the development assignment, we compiled recommendations in three different areas. All of our recommendations are based on observations we made during our development assignment. We have limited our recommendations to the following three areas:

  1. data usability at the NAOF

  2. data analytics at the NAOF, and

  3. teamwork and cultural change in working.

Many of our recommendations related to teamwork and cultural change in working are also applicable more widely in central government. In our report, we state that good teamwork is built on genuine interaction, brave identification of competence, and project roles that people find natural to apply for. A well-functioning team gives everyone space to be themselves and opportunities to develop their competence in a safe environment.

The AI experiment ended up providing new information

What all public officials have in common is that each of them belongs to a certain workplace community. Another thing they share is digitalisation, which is currently sweeping through central government. In future, focusing on the quality of data and developing data processing will play an increasingly important role in the efficient operations of government agencies.

We underline that it is also important to identify the opportunities related to data processing in the different central government units. Cross-sectoral cooperation across the entire central government provides better opportunities to process data. Close cooperation in data processing also provides an opportunity to develop teamwork in central government.

We completed the development task assigned to us successfully. The task, which proved to be complex in practice, ended up providing new kind of information for future development work. We attribute our success in this to our perseverance and to the NAOF’s management, who showed confidence in us.

As the outcome of our development assignment, we not only tested AI in practice but also compiled new information on the processing and usability of data and on efficient forms of teamwork. This will benefit the entire NAOF and promote its operations.

The Young Professionals’ Programme was launched in the spring of 2018. The aim of the programme is to provide professionals at the beginning of their careers a broad perspective of the NAOF’s work. The programme also included working in different parts of the organisation and different development tasks.

Read more about the observations we made during our development assignment and our recommendations below.

Authors: Ines Gullichsen, Samu Kälkäjä, Tiina Väänänen, Jasmin Grünbaum