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Vertti robot to the rescue – this is how RPA was introduced to the NLS

You may have heard about RPA or process automation robots, but do you know what they mean? Robotic process automation (RPA) has become an everyday practice in the operation and customer service of the National Land Survey of Finland (NLS).

Johtava it-asiantuntija Jani istuu työpöydän ääressä.

I will try my best to dispel the magic surrounding this topic and explain how the NLS applies and uses robotics.

RPA is a technology used to automate certain routine processes of information work.

At the NLS, the story of RPA goes back to 2018, when the first ideas were developed. But it was not until 2021 that a suitable target for RPA was found in the NLS register of land ownership and mortgage.

Vertti reminds us of taxes

In connection with property transaction, the buyer must remember to pay the transfer tax and file the appropriate report. The transfer tax must be paid before the NLS can register ownership.

However, an application for registration of ownership can be pending in the NLS register of land ownership and mortgage, even if the report has not been made immediately, and the tax paid. Sometimes you can simply forget to take care of the matter.

This is where robotics comes to the rescue. An RPA robot called Vertti checks new applications for registration of ownership every day. It also checks if a transfer tax report has been filed, and the tax paid. If not, the robot sends a reminder to the customer along with associated instructions.

Both the customer and the NLS benefit. The customer receives a reminder and detailed instructions. And the processing times of applications for registration of ownership at the NLS are reduced. The RPA robot also records the messages it has sent, and the registration specialist can easily see what has already been done.

In terms of numbers, Vertti robot helps a large group of Finns. Last year, the NLS received approximately 110,000 applications for registration of ownership, and the transfer tax had not been paid for up to 30% of them.

New use for testing technology

The development of an RPA robot has been a huge effort to utilise digitalisation in the operation and customer experience of the NLS. Luckily, the quality assurance support team responsible for the implementation was already familiar with the technology. To implement the robot, we used the same technology and practices we use in testing automation.

The key word here is Robot Framework (or RPA Framework). Our team already knew how to apply these sub-areas, which have traditionally been part of testing. So to develop the Vertti robot, we utilised technology that had previously been used only for testing and created a production application

With the development and introduction of the first RPA robot, we could create a clear process for the entire lifecycle of the robot, from idea to finished product.  The lessons learned can also be used in the future.

Can robotics be used for other purposes as well?

So far, we have had very positive experiences in robotics, and it is very likely that the NLS will use robotics in other areas as well.

Machine learning may also become possible in the near future, and we already have libraries we can use.

While we are waiting for this, Vertti continues to help our customers.

Jani Lindholm

The author is a leading IT expert at the NLS Information Management working with automation and DevSecOps.