Case Finnair

How to shift IT organization’s focus from managing services and suppliers to truly supporting business and developing new solutions?

IT Standard for Management is a clear, easily understandable model that is perfect for an environment where a large part of operations has already been outsourced. IT Standard for Management ensures IT responds to the growing changes of business.

After creating a new IT operating model with IT Standard for Management as the framework, Finnair’s IT is more business-oriented than before and actively involved in developing new solutions. Creating Cross Functional Teams enabled team members from varying backgrounds to come together and share their viewpoints to create development processes together.

How IT Standard for Business helped modernize IT operations to create business value

When Finnair, one of the most renowned aviation companies in the world, decided to renew their IT operations, their CIO Kari Saarikoski realized it was time to create a completely new operating model. By utilizing IT Standard for Business as framework, Finnair managed to tighten its IT operations with business in a very concrete way.


Like many IT organizations, Finnair realized in 2015 that the world was changing rapidly and the demands from business operations and clients were constantly growing. There was a need to build IT to truly support business. Finnair had already outsourced a part of its IT to partners, and now they needed to find a way to make IT fully cooperate with business.

The goal of Finnair’s IT management was clear: IT must find a way to respond to the growing changes of business. IT Standard for Business was chosen as the framework as Finnair’s Kari Saarikoski felt it provided the perfect guidelines. Saarikoski, currently Digital Transformation Lead, worked as CIO during the project.

“Framework such as COBIT felt too heavy, difficult and detailed. IT Standard for Business gathers the basic practices together while leaving space for the organization to create a model that suits them best. IT Standard for Business is easy to understand, and its structures fit an environment where parts of the operations of the organization have already been outsourced”, Kari Saarikoski says.


Sofigate helped Finnair to create the new IT operating model and build operations. Original ideas were rooted in organizational structures, and Sofigate’s experts brought defined forms, content and models for measurement to the concept, according to the IT Standard for Business. IT Standard for Business also brought much needed simplification and clarity to the framework.

“High expertise is always needed when different frameworks are applied. Sofigate’s experts ensured that a simple model stays simple in practise as well. While some customization was made for Finnair, no unnecessary or complex details were added”, Kari Saarikoski explains.

Sofigate’s IT Operating Model Concept Lead Aaro Reunanen led the development of IT Standard for Business
at Finnair. “IT operating model defines how IT operations create value for business, including everything from
development needs to end user experience.”

“IT is the digitalization partner for business and it must produce and enable new solutions in a way that ensures that reliability, cost effectiveness and special circumstances for business are taken care of. The cornerstones of a good IT operating model include IT’s business-driven value chain as well as clear roles and shared practices”, Aaro Reunanen explains.


When creating an operating model, it is vital to plan how the model will be implemented and how the success of the implementation will be measured. Large shifts in operating models are always demanding and require a great deal of experience in change management. People are slow to change their own ways of working but when people who are the targets of the change are involved in their own development work, learning and internalizing practices becomes faster and easier.

“I would describe Sofigate’s team ‘gentle shepherds’ when it came to engaging people in changes. The atmosphere around the development work was good, cooperation was done well, and the way of working enabled our own organization to gain their own insights”, Kari Saarikoski says.

With Sofigate and Finnair’s cooperation, an operating model was born. The model combines IT and business management and creates a framework for all practices, including work outside the operation. A significant part of the operating model was creating defined, shared practices for cooperating with suppliers. The practices have a defined form which enables an efficient way of working in a multi-supplier environment. The new operating model has also received praise from business management as it is organized, engaging and simple.


A great shift in operations was the cooperation of new teams, an organizational structure which, in Finnair, is called Cross Functional Team. Multiple different teams were build including both IT and business management, enabling one team to focus on one topic at time. People from different backgrounds gave different viewpoints to topics at hand, whether they had to do with a service, an application, a concept or support.

Development happens faster when all the people partaking in the process are working side by side. Finnair’s goal was to bring all the capabilities and preparedness of all team members to the same level and emphasise business development, not technology. According to Kari Saarikoski, the creation of the new teams was one of the great
victories achieved.

“The teams work together to set development goals, build roadmaps, prioritize tasks, take care of the project and operate to achieve a common goal. The team and the individuals working in them take responsibility for their own work and their own development as well as the management of these. This means they are now committed to the practices in a completely new way. The enthusiasm to create something new can be seen every day”, Saarikoski conludes.“

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