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Keskisuomalainen | Media group Keskisuomalainen relies on a financial management partner with a human touch and a proactive approach

Keskisuomalainen_web Tiina Happonen, Financial Manager, and Heikki Linnavirta, CFO, Keskisuomalainen
↑ Tiina Happonen, Financial Manager, and Heikki Linnavirta, CFO, Keskisuomalainen

As a customer, we can rely on the fact that we both have things under control.

If you receive a Finnish regional or city newspaper in your mailbox, it is most likely published by the Finnish media group Keskisuomalainen. Keskisuomalainen publishes a total of about 100 different media outlets, including major regional newspapers Keskisuomalainen, Savon Sanomat, and Etelä-Suomen Sanomat, as well as strong local city newspapers such as Helsingin Uutiset, Tamperelainen, Länsiväylä, and Vantaan Sanomat. The media group reaches over 3.1 million Finns daily through their printed and digital newspapers, digital outdoor advertising, and radio.

Keskisuomalainen has grown into a nationally influential media company through strategic acquisitions, acquiring local media outlets across Finland. The latest acquisitions include Hämeen Sanomat and Forssan Lehti in 2021, as well as Mikkelin Kaupunkilehti, Keski-Häme, and Karprint's local and city newspapers in 2020. Keskisuomalainen relies on strong local knowledge in the editorial and sales departments, but other functions, such as financial management, are organized centrally within the media group. "We seek growth not only through acquisitions but also through internal efficiency”, the group's CFO Heikki Linnavirta explains, outlining the group's growth strategy.

Linnavirta's financial management organization serves the group's over 30 limited companies and provides financial management services and reporting to the quality standards of a listed company. "Operating in the stock market brings requirements for the speed and accuracy of our operations and raises standards for financial management systems and support needs”, describes Linnavirta.

A reliable accounting software is the cornerstone of financial management

One of the key systems in Keskisuomalainen's financial management is the Unit4 software provided by Efima, which Linnavirta describes as the foundation of their financial management. Through this software, all financial transactions of the media group flow, generating reliable accounting data. The software was implemented in 2018 when the old accounting system of the group could no longer meet all the development needs.

"We happened to come across Efima by chance", recalls Tiina Happonen, the financial manager of the group. Happonen and Linnavirta attended a finance automation training at that time, led by one of the founders of Efima, Sanna Kaarlejärvi. The training sparked many thoughts and discussions, eventually leading to collaboration, and Efima conducted an assessment and provided development suggestions for the group's financial management processes. "We had been contemplating the modernization of our accounting system for a while, but it had been overshadowed by other priorities. The training and assessment helped us see concrete opportunities for improvement, and armed with the knowledge gained, we set out to revamp both our system and processes."

Project management made an impression

The selection of the new accounting software and its provider was determined through a competitive bidding process, considering various options. "Efima's solution appeared to be the most comprehensive", Happonen justifies. It met the high-quality requirements of a publicly listed company, enabled automation development, and offered cloud-based flexibility to adapt to changes in business. Today, creating new company entities within the accounting software can be easily done by Keskisuomalainen's own main users, and accountants have received several tools to simplify their daily tasks. "For IFRS adjustments, we need the same posting data from all our companies every month. Through Unit4, we can effortlessly generate reports that consolidate information from all our companies, whereas previously, we had to manually gather information company by company," Happonen points out as one of the delightful improvements.

According to Happonen and Linnavirta, the implementation of the new system was carried out by Efima with determined efforts. "The project management was excellent: Efima had a clear process for the implementation. Everything was well-documented, and we received incredibly good testing and production migration plans. We had specification meetings for various areas, and we even received support for change management", describes Happonen. The system reform was seen as an opportunity to renew operating practices, and Efima provided support for both process improvement and automation, as well as organizational aspects of financial management.

Personal partnership brings added value

Linnavirta and Happonen are delighted that the development and close collaboration have continued even after the implementation project. "The customer is not left alone with the system. We have regular reviews and collaboration meetings to ensure that everything stays in good shape and to discuss development matters. We appreciate that Efima allocates time and resources for these interactions, and as customers, we can trust that we are both on top of things", Linnavirta praises Efima for their clear quality processes. Over the five years of partnership, there have also been challenges, but the key to solving them has been the tight communication and mutual understanding, as the duo explains.

Systematic process improvement has been a focus, and in 2022, Efima and Keskisuomalainen conducted a reevaluation of the processes and assessed the progress of previous development suggestions. "We reviewed the implemented improvements and evaluated what should and shouldn't be addressed in the future. Efima has excellent people who not only have a vision for technologies but also for developing financial management processes," Happonen describes and notes that Efima stands out in this aspect compared to many other system providers.

Help is also close at hand outside of reviews and assessments. Keskisuomalainen has a designated service manager, whose service-mindedness and flexibility both are grateful for. "Although problem situations are always communicated through tickets, we know that we can also call Juulia, and in urgent situations, we always get the help we need from a person to person", Happonen explains and continues: "That is highly important to us, and we know that this kind of service from a system partner is not taken for granted." Linnavirta and Happonen hope that Efima will continue to uphold this personable partnership in the future. We nod in agreement and assure them that it is indeed our commitment.

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