Fast-Nortal Group to supply new taxation software to Finnish Tax Administration
May 14, 2013
The Finnish Tax Administration (FTA) has made a decision on the supplier of the new taxation system. Click the following link to see FTA´s press bulletin (in Finnish): http://www.vero.fi/fi-FI/Tietoa_Verohallinnosta/Lehdistotiedotteet/Verohallinto_valitsi_FastNortalry...
English translation of the press release is available here: http://vero.fi/en-US/Tax_Administration/News/FastNortal_Group_to_supply_new_taxation_%2827221%29
Back to list
Estonia Leads European Rankings for E-Health Service Adoption
April 26, 2013
The OECD and the European Commission have published a report on a comparative analysis of ICT implementation and adoption in healthcare systems, where Estonia took the top spot among 30 countries. The study covered 1753 hospitals in 27 European Union member states, as well as Croatia, Norway and Iceland.
According to the report, Estonia is in first place ahead of Denmark in the e-health solution implementation category, with Sweden in 3rd, Finland in 4th and Great Britain in 5th. Estonia’s strong position is based on good infrastructure and the digital processing of health data. This category assessed not only the infrastructure and the digital exchange of medical data, but also ICT solutions, security, and privacy.
The study includes data on the availability and adoption of e-health, with an assessment of the accessibility and penetration of ICT functionality in European hospitals. The study results show that Estonia is in first place in Europe for accessibility and usage of e-health services. The top four in this category also included Finland, Sweden and Denmark. The category assessment involved the comparison of four e-health functions in a hospital: data entry by the hospitals and data viewing in the health infosystem; existence of the necessary clinical decision support; digital information exchange between hospitals; and telemedicine.
“E-health development in Estonia was certainly helped by the good cooperation with healthcare service providers and doctors”, explained Raul Mill, Member of the Board of the Estonian e-Health Foundation when commenting on Estonia’s leading position in the cross-European study.
Mill added that one future direction for Estonia would be a focus on increasing the interaction of systems, which would allow for an expanded data exchange between treatment facilities compared to today. “Another important direction is the need to improve the systems’ usability, in order to speed up data lookup and increase its usage.”
The study project “Benchmarking ICTs in health systems” was initiated by the OECD in 2010, with the goal of improving the quality and availability of international data on healthcare IT services and their usage.
Member of the Board
Estonian e-Health Foundation
Back to list
Nortal among Estonia’s Top 10 Most Valued Employers for Second Year in a Row
March 14, 2013
CV Keskus has conducted an annual survey to determine the employers who are most valued by Estonian workers.
The survey found that the respondents, some five thousand in all, assigned high value to the sense of security offered by working in a stable organization, the organization’s good reputation, and the employer’s leadership position in their field. According to Paavo Heil, CEO of CV Keskus, the respondents were most motivated by a worthy salary and good working conditions, the company’s good reputation and trustworthiness, stability and career opportunities, and the fact that employees are treated as human beings.
Priit Alamäe, Nortal’s Chairman of the Board, said that he is very happy and proud that the Estonian people continue to value Nortal that highly as an employer. “In our business, the main capital asset is our people, and we work hard to make sure that our brightest minds at Nortal have enough challenges, growth opportunities, a pleasant work environment, and smart colleagues from whom to learn every day. One definite reason for our honorable 9th place position is that Nortal is a stable employer – we have a proven business model, we have a long-term approach to our business, and both our employees and our customers can be certain that we will still be here in five years. The value of working at Nortal is also proven by the fact that the Nortal summer university, founded in 2005, is growing ever more popular – last year 165 young people applied to the summer university, 9 students per every spot,” added Alamäe.
The Top 20 ranking companies were as follows:
1. Eesti Energia AS
2. Skype Technologies OÜ
3. Elion Ettevõtted AS
4. Swedbank AS
5. AS EMT
6. AS Tallink Group
7. AS SEB Bank
8. OÜ Playtech Estonia
9. Nortal AS
10. Kaubamaja AS
11. AS LHV Bank
12. Eesti Pank
13. ABB AS
14. Kalev AS
15. State Forest Management Centre (RMK)
16. Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR)
17. Nordea Bank Finland Plc Estonia branch
18. Microsoft Estonia OÜ
19. Elisa Eesti AS
20. Tallinna lennujaama AS
The survey took place in late February and early March, and gathered approximately 5000 responses from people all around Estonia. 77.3% of respondents were employed, freelancers or business owners, 9.6% were high school and university students, and 13% were unemployed. 68.9% of respondents had higher or vocational education degrees, 26.6% had high school degrees.
Back to list
Priit Alamäe to Äripäev: The Art of Finding Water in a Desert
March 12, 2013
Estonia’s 2012 gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.6% year-on-year in current prices (3.2% accounting for inflation) and reached a record 17 billion euros. To mark the occasion, Äripäev asked Priit Alamäe what he thought about the current situation, and what the future was likely to bring.
As Chairman of the Board of software company Nortal AS, Priit Alamäe says that surviving in difficult conditions takes a proven business model, a long-term approach to your business, and your client’s confidence that you will still be around in three or five years. It’s not difficult to get wet in the rain – the true art is finding water in a desert.
“Considering what is happening in the Nordic economies, and Estonia’s fairly heavy dependence on neighboring markets in both exports and financial services, Estonia’s so-called economic celebration is somewhat counter-intuitive,” Alamäe commented on last year’s GDP growth.
Estonia’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the year 2012 grew by 6.6% year-on-year in current prices (3.2% accounting for inflation) and reached a record 17 billion euros.
According to Alamäe, Finland has been in a slump for over a year, and only negative news has been coming out of Sweden recently. “If you want to be positive, you could say that thanks to Estonia’s competitiveness, their own requirements and the need to cut costs, the Nordics have started to bring more investment and manufacturing here, and this is a stable trend that will help us get through difficult times. If you want to be negative, you could recall that the 2008 crisis also reached Estonia with a delay of around half a year,” said Alamäe.
He added that Estonia’s economy is certainly a lot stronger today than it was in 2008. The structure of the economy has changed and is significantly more resilient. “There is more export and less bubble. Even if a negative scenario happens and Estonia has setbacks next year, these will certainly not be as painful as the ones in 2008 and 2009. Forecasting is a thankless task, so you have to set up your strategy so that you can respond as quickly and painlessly as possible to both positive and negative developments,” he remarked.
Alamäe added that every day brings new evidence that investment has dried up in the Nordics, and all spending has to pass through a very tough gauntlet. “Nortal is fortunate to be in the kind of business where our products and services create a clear economic value for the customers, both in good times and in bad. We have always taken a very long-term approach to building our business, and our risks are distributed both geographically and in terms of sectors,” he explained.
“Nortal has prepared for 2013 and 2014 so that in the event of a negative economic outlook, the company will be stable, and in the event of a positive one, we will show decent growth,” said Alamäe.
Estonia’s IT sector has been experiencing yet another boom in recent years, and much like the pre-crisis real estate sector, a number of companies have popped up trying to ride the crest of the wave and make a lot of money quickly, he added. “In difficult conditions, the survivors will be the ones who have a proven business model, can take the long view with their business, and can instill in their clients the confidence that they will still be around in three or five years. It’s not difficult to get wet in the rain – the true art is finding water in a desert.”
Back to list
Nortal reached the final stage of the European Business Awards process
February 08, 2013
Nortal is one of just 10 Ruban d’Honneur recipients for the Import/Export Award in the 2012/13 European Business Awards and will now go on to compete in the final round of the competition, in a bid to become one of the ten overall winners to be announced at a gala event in April 2013.
Nortal had been selected as one of just 7 companies to represent Estonia at European Business Awards. Companies in the countries battling it out for the awards were issued with invitations to take part in the competition, a questionnaire to complete and a video entry to submit. All case studies were uploaded onto the European Business Awards website and an online public voting mechanism was introduced. Nortal representative will face the jury February 27th.
European Business Awards has been issued since 2006 and it has become one of the most prestiguous acknowledgment to the outstanding companies of the European Union.
The nominees were required to be international, medium-sized or rapidly expanding small companies who had outstanding results to show for the previous few years. Their strengths could be a successful growth strategy, strict ethical standards, a major client focus or an innovative approach. The companies had to be at the forefront of the area they operated in, one step ahead of their competitors, and have a desire to stand out as one of the best companies in Europe.
The competition run by the European Business Awards has seen entries from organisations with a combined turnover greater of over €1 trillion Euros across the 28 EU countries plus emerging nations (8.23% of EU GDP including Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan). Together these businesses employ over 2.7 million people across the continent.
Additional information: http://www.businessawardseurope.com/RDH/2012
Back to list
BNS: Nortal to decide on participation in Finnish hospital procurement after clarification of conditions
February 07, 2013
Baltic News Service (BNS) talked to Taavi Einaste on the subject of Finnish hospital procurement and published a news piece.
Nortal – the company created in the merger of the Estonian company Webmedia and the Finnish software developer CCC – will decide on its participation in the procurement of a new patient information system for the Hospital District of Helsinki only after the final conditions have been clarified. The estimated cost of the procurement is 350-450 million euros.
"It’s quite likely that if we decide to participate, we will do it together with another company whose skills and experience complement ours," commented Taavi Einaste, Head of the eHealth Business Unit at Nortal, in his interview with BNS.
A decision on participation in the procurement, also known as the Apotti project, is expected from the Hospital District of Helsinki (HUS), the cities of Helsinki, Vantaa, Kerava and Kauniainen, the municipality of Kirkkonummi and KL-Kuntahankinnat Oy, a local government joint procurement company representing municipalities outside HUS. They must all decide on their participation separately. Helsinki’s satellite city Espoo decided last month not to proceed, whereas the Helsinki City Council had already given its approval in December.
Until then, Nortal will continue to provide services for its first Finnish IT client, Labquality, and is in active negotiations with several smaller Finnish hospitals and medical laboratories. Work also continues with contacts in other countries, where Nortal also has operations.
"According to Nortal’s estimation, the architecture of the eHealth information system implemented by the Tartu University Hospital complies well with the needs of major Finnish hospitals,“ says Einaste.
"Over the past couple of years, we have introduced our system to over 50 healthcare and healthcare IT decision makers from Finland, including representatives of the Helsinki University Hospital.”
According to Einaste, Nortal’s IT systems have received an abundance of positive feedback: "Obviously, the Finnish health care system is different from that of Estonia, so a number of adjustments must be made to the software for it to comply with Finnish requirements.”
Einaste adds that it is difficult to predict when exactly the procurement of the new patient information system will take place, as last summer’s predictions of a possible launch date before the end of the year did not materialise.
"Based on the latest Information from Finland, the procurement is likely to be launched before summer but even this estimation may be too optimistic," says Einaste. "The entire procedure – from announcing the procurement to selecting the winning bidder may take at least six to nine months but even longer in case of disagreements. The expected time frame from concluding the contract to the delivery of the information system is three to four years."
"Our decision on whether to participate in the procurement, as well as our chances of being chosen as a winning bidder, largely depend on the procurement conditions. We assume that, at the moment of making a bid or concluding the contract, the software does not have to comply fully with the Finnish requirements.”
Einaste estimates that the bidder may be required to prove its capacity in Finland. “Fortunately, today Nortal is big enough both by general and by Finnish standards, so we should fulfill this requirement.”
He continues: “As for companies in Finland, this project is far too important for them to ignore. It is also large enough to attract the attention of global enterprises that normally do not show much interest in our region. Thus we can expect some tough competition.”
According to Einaste, Nortal’s possible advantage, compared to global enterprises, lies in the depth of its knowledge of how the Finnish market works, and in its ability to estimate the volume of work needed to fulfil Finnish requirements. "At the same time, the companies that have been actively involved in the Finnish health care system are more experienced than us. The successful bidder must provide a modern technological platform complying with all the requirements. We believe that this is where we can beat most of our competitors," he explains.
The procurement for the new patient information system will be carried out as a negotiated procedure. Three to six bids, which comply with the tender requirements, will be selected from those that have submitted applications to participate; the winning bidder will be chosen as a result of negotiations. The current annual expenses of patient information systems for local communes in the Helsinki District amount to approximately 49 million euros. According to the preparatory commission, the estimated procurement expenses for the period of ten years will be 350-450 million euros.
Back to list
Study: e-solutions save time
February 06, 2013
The Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications published a study on the benefits of public e-services. Nortal has been involved in developing many of the services highlighted in the study.
According to Margus Püüa, the head of state information systems at the Ministry, the 5000 respondents of the study asserted the evident facts that e-services have a clearly positive impact, saving time and improving citizen access. „Having those services is obviously not an aim in itself, so they must provide clear financial or time benefits – to the state or the citizen or, better still, to both,” Püüa noted.
For 12 of the 15 services surveyed, more than 80% of respondents said the online service provided better access and usability. For example, the e-School solution was rated by 80% of respondents as having improved communication between schools and parents.
According to the survey, 72% of all respondents had filed tax returns electronically, making this the most widely used service.
As for time savings, the electronic commercial register was found to reduce the time for creating a new company by 92% compared to the „offline“ service. Tax And Customs Board’s electronic tax returns were also rated as highly time-efficient.
As for Digital Prescription, most family physicians and pharmacists said it had facilitated their work and reduced mistakes. They noted, however, that results could be further improved by speeding up the Internet in rural areas and improving the IT skills of doctors and pharmacists.
Lower ratings were given to e-services involving paperwork, like electronically filled and digitally signed forms which cannot be directly processed, so that an official must manually insert their contents into a computer.
Source: Eesti Päevaleht
Back to list
Nortal systems support Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund’s basic daily activities
December 12, 2012
At the end of 2012, the Chairman of the Fund’s Board, Meelis Paavel, presented Nortal with a letter of gratitude for successful cooperation. The Senior Development Unit Specialist of the State Information Systems Department, Urmas Visse, stated that Nortal’s people have become almost like the Fund’s own IT team:
"Nortal, which is currently developing the EMPIS Information System for the Unemployment Insurance Fund, has by now become almost a part of our team. Thanks to them, in 2009 we were able to implement a critical part of the new information system within six months. Without that, we wouldn’t have been able to provide services for our soaring number of clients during the economic recession. Thanks to Nortal, our administrative burden, as well as that of our clients, has decreased dramatically. Nortal has been flexible, helping us to transform our initial vision into a workable outcome, and together we have been able to find better and more efficient solutions."
We at Nortal would also like to thank the Fund for their trust and cooperation. As our project manager, Alar Huul, has pointed out, we feel privileged to have been chosen as developers for such a dynamic and rapidly developing public sector organisation. It is the on-going joint mission of Nortal and the Unemployment Insurance Fund to help people find their way back to work. As of now, the systems developed for the Fund – namely the labour market services data processing system EMPIS and the document management IS Alfresco – are capable of supporting the Fund’s most typical daily activities. According to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the joint cooperation has helped find solutions to several important problems:
- In comparison with the old system, registration of the unemployed is now many times quicker (40 min before vs. less than 10 min with EMPIS). For us, it means a reduced workload compared with the economic recession period!
- Unlike the previous information system, we now have standardised and high-quality procedures in place for offering labour market services all over Estonia.
- Job matching – EMPIS automatically matches those looking for a job with their prospective employers. In a month, EMPIS typically sends out 14,000-15,000 e-mails about relevant job offers. This helps us to boost employment!
- Data exchange with other registries – data are received automatically, reducing the paper load for the Fund’s clients; and due to the high-quality data, the Fund can detect possible fraud more easily. Altogether, EMPIS is integrated with 12 separate systems.
- Printable documents, such as decisions and contracts, are automatically generated by EMPIS based on input parameters. As a result, all printed texts are precise, easily manageable and presented on a common template. There are around 50 different types of decisions and approximately 300 different forms of text, as well as around 200 templates for contracts and agreements. The system allows the Fund to save a considerable amount of time and generate better-quality decisions and contracts for its clients.
- The procurement module allows us to order various labour market services from the Fund’s partners (e.g. for retraining purposes) and to plan its budget.
- With the EMPIS calendar, our time, clients and service groups can be managed and monitored from one central system.
- And the list goes on!
Nortal has already spent more than 60,000 man-hours on developing EMPIS and 6000 man-hours on Alfresco, but a lot still needs to be done.
Back to list
Nortal and Neste Oil – successful cooperation for over ten years
December 11, 2012
In the AsiantuntijaOpas (Expert Guide) supplement to the Talouselämä magazine (number 35) there is an article on the partnership between Nortal and Neste Oil, which has been ongoing for more than ten years, and how Neste Oil’s competitiveness has been improved by solutions developed by Nortal.
The article is based on an interview conducted with Nortal’s Key Account Director, Erno Runola, Neste Oil’s Head of ICT Services, Jyrki Minkkinen, and Team Leader Eero Virtanen.
AsiantuntijaOpas VII is the Talouselämä magazine’s supplement for professionals, with the theme of this issue being competitiveness.
Nortal – Information System Services Based on Solid Professional skills
Nortal’s partnership with Neste Oil has been ongoing for more than ten years.
Nortal is an international provider of top-quality business applications and electronic service solutions for both the public and private sectors. Nortal has been in partnership with Neste Oil Corporation since 1999.
– We began our cooperation by developing a new kind of information system and since then have worked on the maintenance of the system. Currently, Nortal maintains about ten significant systems, which are linked together. In addition, Nortal supports agreed business activities globally with 24/7 services, Nortal’s Key Account Director, Erno Runola, tells.
The most important systems Nortal has provided for Neste Oil are JAWA, which is specialised on the receiving of raw materials, product flow management and deliveries by ship and train, and JAWATRUCK, which focuses on deliveries, the loading of tank trucks, delivery information and freight declaration management.
In addition, the TOIMI vehicle information system is important, whereby delivery information and invoicing are sped up, information validity is ensured and the driver’s job is made easier. The order book can be checked in near real-time from the truck, and the products remaining in the cargo can be delivered to new customers by accessing pending orders from the system during the run.
The systems are a part of the process that begins from receiving the raw material and ends with the delivery of the finished product to the end customer. In addition to competent personnel, the delivery chain requires information systems that are specialised for consumer needs – systems that are flawless, reliable and efficient. By fulfilling these crucial criteria, Nortal is able to significantly improve the competitiveness of its clients.
Head of ICT Services in Neste Oil, Jyrki Minkkinen, commends Nortal for its ability to respond to the challenges that arise.
– The delivery chain of products and raw materials is one of the key activities of Neste Oil. It is not only a question of mere physical logistics, but also information logistics. Important factors include efficiency, reliability, traceability and timeliness of information. Nortal has been able to respond to these needs, he states.
An international company needs good partners to support its successful activities. According to Nes¬te Oil Corporation’s Team Leader, Eero Virtanen, Nortal has managed well in this regard.
– I think that the principle of paying attention is the key to successful cooperation. By this, I mean that the cooperation partner shall be able to act now with regard to the future. I see the agility, high-class competence and commitment to assigned tasks as a positive feature in Nortal, Virtanen states.
Like Virtanen, Erno Runola thinks that a well implemented partnership is the basis for successful cooperation.
– What is most important is that the client’s objectives have been understood and genuinely integrated into the day-to-day activities of the client’s service provider. This means comprehensive commitment that benefits both parties, says Runola, as he continues:
– Once trust has been established, a good partnership holds up in both good and bad times.
The importance of carrying responsibility
Erno Runola emphasises the importance of carrying responsibility when operating in the information system field.
– It is important that an employee is responsible for what he does. This is achieved when the job is meaningful and the employee understands that he is a part of the whole. In the end, people are always responsible for ensuring that well designed and implemented systems work in practice, as they should, he says.
Like Runola, Jyrki Minkkinen emphasises the importance of carrying responsibility when implementing information system projects.
– The service provider must also dare to challenge the client to develop new solutions, if there is a need for them. I see that a multiple expert like Nortal is just the right partner for Neste Oil. The services are available to us globally around the clock and a company in Nortal’s size range is able to quickly resolve any problems that arise, Minkkinen says.
Back to list
Nortal won the Äripäev’s 2011 TOP for computer and information technology companies
November 29, 2012
Nortal won the Äripäev’s TOP for computer and information technology companies according to 2011 results. Nortal had placed 14th just a year before. Äripäev asked Priit Alamäe about Nortal’s goals and activities.
What is the main difference between Nortal and other IT companies?
What sets us apart is our overall business critical thinking, and our extremely efficient production process. We offer clear and tangible economic value at both good and not-so-good times.
Who is your average client?
We do not have average clients; we only have very good ones. They range from telecoms sector companies to industrial, financial, healthcare and public sector organisations.
How do ordinary Estonians benefit from Nortal’s creations on a daily basis?
Our developments – back-office applications in both the private and the public sectors – remain hidden; however, they do help many people work more efficiently. Just to name one: we helped develop the e-census solution for Statistics Estonia.
I hope that none of our readers has ever had to turn to the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, but we also developed their information system. At the same time, Qatar’s e-state – which we also developed – is one of the most visited public applications.
Which projects have been the most challenging ones?
For instance: helping Eesti Energia prepare for the opening of the electricity market, as Nortal has been involved in building the entire self-service system for energy contracts. Avita’s e-lesson project was yet another great technological challenge for our .Net team: the result was the first version of the comprehensible teaching e-tool, which can also make class more exciting for students.
In Finland, we are responsible for the daily operations of some of the most critical business systems of several large enterprises. Literally, it means that our people on call always have their cell phones with them, even in sauna. It is necessary, because if we cannot respond in time, a big factory may cease production. In Oman, we are responsible for the operation of the electronic business register, which facilitates communication between entrepreneurs and the state.
In each new target country, the realisation of first projects always poses a great challenge. Even if our teams are highly experienced, the overall experiences and the cultures are different.
In 2011, Nortal AS won Äripäev’s TOP for computer and information technology companies. What was the key for your success?
From 2011 to the first half of 2012, Nortal’s client base expanded remarkably. We had already established ourselves as market leaders in Estonia, but recently we have further strengthened this position. In Lithuania, new customers from the financial and public sectors have chosen Nortal as their core supplier. Our revenue trend from the Gulf Region and Africa is positive. And roughly 50% of our revenue comes from Finland. In conclusion, we can say that the key for our success lies in clear goals and consistent work.
What are the major problems faced by the Estonian IT sector?
The lack of specialists has been a widely discussed issue, but even if structural changes in the educational system were made now, we would see the results in 4-5 years at the earliest. I guess that each company has its own specific set of problems, but for us it is finding people with international (management) experience. Unfortunately, our market is too small and such people are very difficult to find.
There are things that still require improvement – such as our ordering capacity and our understanding of what and how to purchase. Nowadays, IT is the heart of each organisation, enabling the exchange of information. If you need heart surgery, you are probably not going to look for the cheapest surgeon. However, when people consider buying software, the price is still often an important factor in their decision.
Are there any innovative solutions that Nortal is planning to launch in the imminent future?
The last few years have been turbulent – new markets, brand change, rapid growth, making some big mistakes and learning from them, and all topped with the economic crisis. When the economy finally starts showing signs of recovery, we want to be able to secure a head start. We are approaching the current period like a high-altitude training camp – it is important to increase lung capacity, and do resistance training, in order to peak at the right moment. Our goal is to have a team that is capable of bringing the company to the next level.
Back to list