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Three decades of digital file management services

The story of the 30-year-old SokoPro project bank began with a passion for solving customers’ problems in a new way. In 1993, the transfer of print files was painfully slow. Many large-scale construction projects were underway in Finland at the time, with a huge amount of data to be managed. As a result of bold development work with customers, a tool was created that revolutionised the digital project management service for the construction industry.

A familiar food company advertises its food as “made by mothers”, and in the same way, SokoPro is the creation of its customers. This is the comparison that Grano’s Business Development Director Jouni Silvennoinen draws. Grano owned SokoPro before 2021 and is now its distributor in Finland.

Close partnership with customers continues. Silvennoinen supports an ecosystem approach in which organisations collaborate and form systems in which all parties benefit.

“We would never have reached this point if the big companies had not joined in right from the start. New development targets come from our customers, and we listen to them carefully,” Silvennoinen says.

He points out that although much of the focus is on large companies and large construction projects, SokoPro also scales to smaller projects.

State-of-the-art data security

Data security has always been one of the most important things that has been invested in as part of SokoPro’s development.

“There have been no data leaks or data breaches in SokoPro throughout its 30-year history. The fact that the customer’s information is always available and secure creates mutual trust.”

SokoPro is constantly being developed, but it is ultimately the customer who decides in which direction the software will be taken. “This is an ongoing process. I’m sure SokoPro has barely even reached middle age,” Silvennoinen says.

Transparency for project management

It is important for customers that the project tool allows them to manage their own projects. In development work, much has been invested in the manageability of the service as a whole, as it brings transparency to project management.

“When a company makes an account for SokoPro, they can create projects and manage them themselves in accordance with their contract. It is important that the customer feels that the software is their environment,” says SokoPro’s Chief Operating Officer Rasmus Vainio.

Customer service a matter of honour

However, help is always available if needed. SokoPro is proud of its helpdesk, and not without reason – customers call it the best in the world. The helpdesk operates in Espoo, Vaasa and Jyväskylä, in Finnish, Swedish and English. It is a matter of honour for the Helpdesk customer service representatives that every customer’s support request is answered promptly. On average, a request is resolved within 20 minutes of the moment of receipt.

“Support requests rarely concern the operating system itself. Customers’ support requests are usually related to things such as the user being unable to do something in the project – in which case, the support staff contact the project administrator. The support team also assist in training,” says Vainio.

Vainio is proud of his team. “The support team is caring, efficient and makes sound decisions. I’m super proud to be part of this group.”

Commitment to collaboration is strong

Currently, SokoPro’s project management service has about 90,000 users, ten per cent of whom are located abroad. The Swedish iBinder Group acquired SokoPro’s business from Grano in 2021. iBinder has already established a strong position in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, but their recognition in Finland has been low in the past. iBinder has a very similar background to SokoPro, which expedited the process of finding a common ground.

“SokoPro has a strong position in Finland, and their services are highly valued by Finnish customers. The SokoPro team is extremely committed to its work, and we greatly appreciate their dedication,” says iBinder President and CEO Per Hedebäck.

Company culture plays a big role when two companies merge. And sometimes it requires a lot of effort even after the merger.

“The corporate cultures of SokoPro and iBinder went together well from the start. It’s easy for us to work together. Communication is open, and the commitment to collaboration is strong on both sides.”

Responsibility increases the value of properties

The common goal of the Nordic countries is to lead the way in low-carbon and sustainable construction. In Sweden and Denmark, the assessment of the climate impact of buildings is already mandatory. In Finland, life cycle assessment will become mandatory in 2025 in the amended Land Use and Building Act. Among the requirements that the amendments have added to the act are a climate survey, material descriptions and CO2 limit values.

The aim of the requirement is clear: to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings throughout their life cycle. The requirement will apply to all new construction projects for which a building permit is applied for. The goal of iBinder is also to assist Finnish customers in the efficient management of construction processes, where responsibility plays a key role.

“We want our customers to succeed in meeting the requirements of the life cycle assessment. This is important, as responsibility is an increasingly pivotal factor in the value of properties,” says Hedebäck. “For instance, we can help customers identify whether the property contains harmful substances, and what materials can be reused or recycled.”

Making project work easier and more transparent

Project Director Pekka Kähkönen has worked for SRV for more than 26 years, so he knows all the ins and outs of the industry. He has been using SokoPro since its beginnings.

The project bank has had two particular advantages for SRV. There is no need to order images separately, as the final version becomes available as soon as the designer has created it. Day-to-day work is also made easier because invitations to tender are easily handled through the project bank.

Kähkönen lists the benefits that SokoPro brings to work on construction projects: transparency, ease of use, versatility and speed in handling construction site matters.

“The people working on a project can change, but documents can be found whenever something is needed. As long as documents have been archived properly, they will not disappear. From the property maintenance perspective, this is excellent because when properties are updated, you will always find the up-to-date information about them,” Kähkönen says.

Smooth work the main advantage for Orion

Orion has been an eyewitness to SokoPro’s fantastic growth story and the tremendous change in the market. The company has been involved in the development of the system throughout its 30-year history.

“We were among the first to try SokoPro. Over the years, they have gathered valuable feedback and information from their customers about the direction in which the software should be developed,” says Orion’s EHS and Property Director Juha Paasi.

SokoPro is Orion’s tool for managing documents during the project and for maintaining planning material for partners. The familiar and reliable tendering tool is also in active use. According to Paasi, the software also yields direct business benefits, but its greatest value lies in how it helps day-to-day work run smoothly.

Paasi wonders how anyone could get by these days without a shared cloud service. Data management would be impossible without it.

“Construction will continue in the future. There’s always something to repair, demolish or alter. The cloud service will maintain its position, and fortunately, SokoPro invests heavily in its system. We’re really happy with it,” Paasi says in summary.