Aihearkisto: Articles in English

Service Desk is evolving

Current trend word is DevOps which is mostly used in software development. It emphases the importance of communication between software development and software operations. However, the mentality of DevOps can be used in other parts of IT too. This article describes how to implement DevOps mentality to Service Desk based on Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).

Authors: Mira Järvenpää and Marianne Matilainen

What is ITIL?

ITIL is one of the most used frameworks in IT (Mann 2016). ITIL itself is agile, but currently it is usually practiced the way which makes it bureaucratic (Atlassian 2017). That is the reason why ITIL needs other practices, like DevOps, to be successful.

ITIL has five parts: Service strategy, Service design, Service transition, Service operation and Continual service improvement. Each part concentrates on different part of IT and Service operation includes the best practices for Service Desk (SD). According to the ITIL, the purpose of service desk function is to be the first point of contact and the face of IT. The objective is to restore the normal service level as soon as possible and SD’s responsibility is managing the whole lifecycle of incidents and requests including first-line investigation and diagnosis, and escalation if needed. (Järvenpää 2017, 2; ITIL Foundation Handbook 2012, 241-242.)

Every company has different business needs and IT should be aligned with them. First things to consider are:

  • What kind of customers do we have?
  • What do our customers need?
  • What is our goal and purpose?

After the needs are clear, the SD can be organized. There are several ways to organize SD and the basic things to decide are:

  • Is SD outsourced or internal?
  • Is SD local, centralized and/or virtual?
  • Availability of SD
  • Responsibilities of SD (ITIL Foundation Handbook 2012, 242-243.)

Based on availability and responsibilities of SD the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are made. Service level is the lowest acceptable level of service quality and one example of them is displayed in the Table 1 below.

TABLE 1. Service levels in Service Desk (JUHTA 2012. Translated from Finnish by Mira Järvenpää)

Adding more value with DevOps

Currently most companies see SD only as a face of IT with just a little bit information and knowledge. SD is usually the last one to know about the changes and still they need to be the one supporting customers through them. DevOps mentality changes this way of thinking. (Eldar 2016; Joe the IT Guy 2017.)

DevOps is a way of thinking and practicing IT. It is mostly used for software development, but the mentality can be implemented to other parts. Dev means all the people who involved in developing the service, product or software and Ops includes all the people involved in delivery, management and support of the service, product or software. There are three principles:

  1. Systems thinking
  2. Amplify feedback loops
  3. Continual experimentation and learning (Eldar 2016; Joe the IT Guy 2017.)

DevOps mentality changes the pecking order in IT organization – SD is the first one to know about all the changes. Implementing the three principles in SD is easy. First principle suggests looking at the performance of the entire system instead of just one part at the time. That way the business needs are heard more clearly. SD is in daily contact with the users which makes them the first ones to know what is going on. This means SD agents usually have the best understanding of flow and how to manage it. (Atlassian 2017; Joe the IT Guy 2017.)

The second principle, amplify the feedback loop, means getting more accurate and faster feedback. This suits SD perfectly. SD is in constant interaction with the users which means they can collect feedback in all phases. Giving feedback directly to SD is more natural way for many users which makes the feedback more humane, richer and more textured than feedback from surveys. It also provides a way to find out the weak links, for example in escalation process. (Atlassian 2017; Joe the IT Guy 2017.)

The third principle is continual experimentation and learning. DevOps mentality embraces taking risks and learning from them. Role of SD is clear and comes back to seeing the issues in the front row. SD has the best understanding how any change is affecting users, what kind of training is needed, and what kind of resources are needed. Including SD in the development process enables the early detection of these issues. (Atlassian 2017; Joe the IT Guy 2017.)

FIGURE 1. Flow chart of incident ticket handling in Service Desk (Mira Järvenpää)

The Figure 1 above shows the example of incident ticket handling in Service Desk. It is based on ITIL but includes the direct feedback loop from DevOps. The Figure 2 below shows simplified flow chart of development projects and how to include SD to the process. The main idea is to make sure SD has all the information what they need to solve users’ issues. On the other hand, developers will get accurate and up to date feedback in every step.

FIGURE 2. Flow chart of development projects and role of Service Desk (Mira Järvenpää)

Find what works for you

Both ITIL and DevOps are resources (Rance 2016). They are not meant to follow precisely just for the sake of following. Rance (2016) suggests starting by asking yourself some basic questions, like “how quickly it is possible to test and release software in an emergency” or “how often our changes go wrong”. After you find something to improve, you can see if DevOps mentality can help you with it. There is no use to change everything at the same time. However, including DevOps mentality to SD gives more open communication and that is crucial for successful IT organization.


Atlassian. 2017. How to run IT support the DevOps way. [Cited 5 Feb 2018]. Available at:

Eldar, R. 2016. DevOps Success via the Service Desk. [Cited 5 Feb 2018]. Available at:

ITIL Foundation Handbook. 2012. London: The Stationery Office.

Järvenpää, M. 2017. End User Satisfaction in Kemira IT Service Desk: Changes between 2014 and 2017 and improvement ideas. Bachelor’s thesis. Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Technology. Lahti.

Joe the IT Guy. 2017. Where is the IT service desk in a DevOps world? [Cited 5 Feb 2018]. Available at:

JUHTA – Julkisen hallinnon tietohallinnon neuvottelukunta. 2012. JHS 174 ICT-palvelujen palvelutasoluokitus. [Cited 20 Feb 2018]. Available at:

Mann, S. 2016. ITIL Alternatives: Why is There so Little Uptake of ITSM Indrustry Frameworks? [Cited 5 Feb 2018]. Available at:

Rance, S. 2016. Please, Don’t Just “Do” DevOps! [Cited 5 Feb 2018]. Available at:

About the authors

Mira Järvenpää is a final year student in Faculty of Technology and majoring in telecommunications.

Marianne Matilainen is a Senior Lecturer of Networking Technology at the Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

Illustration: Bruce Mars. (CC0)

Published 14.3.2018

Reference to this publication

Järvenpää, M. & Matilainen, M. 2018. Service Desk is evolving. LAMK Pro. [Electronic magazine]. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at:

Open Digi Campus Technical Challenges

The Open DigiCampus project  (2017–2018), funded by the KIRA-digi programme, boosts the digitalisation of the built environment and construction sector by creating an open and interoperable information management ecosystem for the built environment. The KIRA-digi programme is the Government’s key programme involving ministries, municipalities and the KIRA forum. The project focuses on digitalisation of the new campus of the Lahti University of Applied Sciences and this article describes the technological challenges of the digicampus.

Authors: Timo Turunen, Satu Hyökki, Hannu Kaikonen & Minna Asplund


Lahti University of Applied Sciences has been building a new campus, which is based strongly on future working needs in study, research and administrative work. One starting point is to enable an appropriate and flexible working environment, which is supported by digitalisation. One aim of this is to permit round-the-clock working in the rooms on campus by giving the students a possibility to obtain RFID tags for access to premises.

The Open DigiCampus (2017) project boosts the digitalisation of the new campus by creating an open and interoperable information management ecosystem for the new campus.

Operations on the new campus are concentrated mainly in two locations. The wide campus area and the number of the actions in there gives challenges to handle what happens and where. This makes it necessary to organise the user guidance in the facilities. There is also a need for knowing the utilisation degree of the resources and the locations of different groups and persons. For that reason, there has to be flexible ways to reserve and release the resources always according to the specific needs. It is also important in the future to be able to develop applications, that can make use of the resource and reservation statistics.

To achieve these goals sets technical challenges. Those challenges are presented next, starting from the sub-functions and approaching the big picture.

Architectural overview

First, the architectural overview of the Open Digi Campus Service Environment is presented in Figure 1. The environment is built around the Peppi Ecosystem and its integration parts, the Reservation Integration Point and the Open Data Portal. Then, there are the data source systems: Property Operator and Room Data IoT System. Lastly, there are the Common Digital services in the right part of the figure.

Figure 1.  Open Digi Campus Service Environment – architectural overview.

The more detailed architecture is shown in Figure 2. This gives more technical information on the environment structure.

Peppi Ecosystem

Peppi Ecosystem is the core data warehouse of the Open Digi Campus Service Environment. The resource planning system of Lahti University of Applied Sciences has been implemented using Peppi. It is a common planning system of most Finnish educational organisations.

Peppi serves two interfaces for external services: the open data REST interface for getting data from Peppi and the private SOAP interface for bidirectional data transferring. The users of the interfaces are usually Peppi plugins or external service applications. An example of a Peppi plugin is the service, and an example of an external service application is the Property Operator Booking Service, which also handles other rooms than Open Digi Campus rooms.

The open data interface is an easy way to get data from Peppi. It is a modern RESTful service, which gives possibilities to use versatile queries for getting the reservation data. It is also a powerful protocol because it uses the internal fast data indexes of Peppi. Therefore, it is used in the service.

The private SOAP interface is more complex and even more versatile, but also more loading. It handles the data directly in the database of Peppi so it should be used carefully.  The main challenge in using this interface is to take care of the integrity of the database. Therefore, it should be used for only very carefully designed and tested SOAP calls.

Room Data IoT System

Room Data IoT system is another data source for Open Digi Campus Service Environment. It collects information from the room sensors and transmits analysed data to the Reservation Integration Point service. This system is not yet defined very carefully, because it is being researched and piloted in the next few months.

The aim of this system is to get sensor data from the rooms. The data can be something like presence, temperature and concentration of carbon dioxide. The system collects the data from the sensors using embedded computers, which sends the data into the big data cloud service. (Yealamarthi, Aman & Abdelgawad 2017.)

Reservation Integration Point

Reservation Integration Point is the main connection node of the Open Digi Campus Service Environment. It serves interfaces for private bidirectional connections between the Peppi Ecosystem and common digital services like the Room Management service and Property Operator services.

This service gives a modern, safe and standardised RESTful interface instead of Peppi’s carefully used SOAP interface. It also handles the reservation conflicts and rights of the user services, which gives the main challenges for that point.

This service has been made and will be futher developed by the university’s own staff. In the future, the reservation information point can also include the commercial integration hub BizTalk.

Open Data Portal

Open Data Portal is a public connection node between the Peppi Ecosystem and Open Data services. It manages a public open data interface and portal web site. It also gets data from the external open data services and Property Operator data interface and relays them to the external users. Examples of these external open data services can be local weather information, bus schedules, restaurant menus and statistical information of the solar energy system. One challenge is to find a common definition for the RESTful service. It has not yet been defined, but it should be done before the Digital Signage service is implemented. If this service is not ready when it is needed, the Reservation Integration Point can temporarily handle these tasks. Both have the same kind of RESTful service.

Common Digital Services

Common Digital Services are applications that serve public web sites for people who need to see or make resource reservations. Digital Signage, Property Operator, Room Management, Study&Meet, and Office 365 Outlook are those services. There can also be more if  new needs are found in the future. They can also be merged if it seems to be expedient.

All these services use common Reservation Integration Point to connect to the reservation database. Those services can poll availability of the resources and make new reservations if they have the right to do this and if there is free space for that. They can also even remove their own reservations or, if they have the rights, also remove other users’ reservations.

Digital Signage

One challenge on the real campus is to find places and people. The property surface area is so big and there are a lot of rooms and corridors, so people should be able to locate where they need to be and other people or groups they want to meet. The other challenge is to find places. For that, there is a digital Signage system that uses the Open Data Portal to get information that all groups need to know. Those groups can be students, lecturers, other staff and visitors.

One of the useful properties of the Digital Signage service is to show the way to the target place.  Ten useful capabilities have been found (Penny 2012, 50-51) for interactive wayfinding:

  1. Touchscreens
  2. RFID
  3. Barcode scanners
  4. Multifloor/multiregion services
  5. Conditional formatting
  6. Customised views
  7. Extra information
  8. Emergency procedures
  9. Easy updating
  10. List management

The Digital Signage includes info TV’s, corridor signage displays and so on.

Property Operator

The Property Operator service is one externally administered application in the Open Digit Campus Service Environment. Besides their own external resources, it also handles some hired out campus rooms, such as big auditoriums. Those rooms should be reserved by both this service and the Peppi Ecosystem. This service should work so that it is possible to make a reservation if there is not already a reservation. Peppi has the main priority for those rooms.

This service has not yet been implemented. This will be based on the Study&Meet integration. The main challenges have been solved in that task. Reservation priorities must be handled well so the use of this service works fluently with the Peppi Ecosystem and the other reservations services.

Room Management

Perhaps the most important service of the new Open Digi Campus Service Environment is the Room Management service. This service has not yet been implemented, but it should handle the door displays outside the rooms, give the global web portal for making and viewing reservations and also include a mobile application for common mobile platforms like Android and IOS.

In the market, there are some possible existing applications. It is a challenge to define and choose or develop an appropriate application for this. At Ball State University, they had the same kinds of problems in choosing the best way to get a suitable application, and they chose to  make it themselves. As they scanned the environment, they had a difficult time finding any scheduling software that met most of their needs. Instead, they found systems that were too expensive, too simple, too complex, ran on unsupported platforms, or used unsupported technologies. For these reasons, they decided to build the application they needed to manage their group study rooms. (Faust et al. 2010, 2.)

In the Open Digi Campus Service Environment, the result can be other than described above because the technology has been evolved since.


The Study&Meet service already exists. It is the first external common digital service in the Open Digi Campus Service Environment. The integration of this service is the base of Reservation Integration Point. The first challenges of this integration point have been detected and solved in this development work.

The half-year future reservations and rooms dedicated for this service are polled once a day using the REST interface of the Reservation Integration Point. This is the main data synchronisation between this service and Peppi’s database. In the day views, the short-term reservations are polled, so the user view shows the live reservation situation. When this service needs to make new reservations, it polls this time window reservation three times to be sure that the space for this reservation is free. Secondly, when it needs to remove an existing reservation, it checks to verify that the reservation owner is this service.

Ultimately, the Reservation Integration Point accepts the creation or removal operations of the service. If the service tries to remove somebody else’s reservation, the integration point denies it. is the first-ever-made service for the Open Digi Campus Service Environment. It is made in the university’s own development staff. Because it is placed into the university’s own environment, it is called the Peppi plugin. This service uses Peppi’s open data interface. The interface has some restrictions, like missing persons in the reservation events. It has, however, been noted that it can live with those restrictions.

If, in the future, it seems necessary to have this now-restricted information, this service should be changed to use the Reservation Integration Point. The integration point can be programmed to handle almost all data fields in Peppi’s database. It can even process some operations that are not possible in Peppi’s native desktops.

This service has shown the principles of how to build interfaces and new services around the Peppi Ecosystem.  Developing this service has presented several technical software challenges, but they have been solved and the service works quite well.

Figure 2. Open Digi Campus Service Environment – advanced architectural overview


There are many parts of the Open Digi Campus Service Environment that exist. However, some parts are still being developed, and to develop these parts sets many challenges, which still have to be solved. The main challenges are in the Room Management Service, the Digital Signage Service and the Room Data IoT System. It also has not yet been defined which information of the room data will be used in the informative resources.

First, the Room Management System should be defined and then ordered. The second priority is to get the Digital Signage Service. At the same time, the university students will develop the Room Data IoT System.

At any rate, the aim is to have the main parts of this environment working when the new campus is started. Secondary parts can be implemented when the campus is open.


Faust, B. D. & Hafner, A. W. & Seaton, R. L. 2010. OpenRoom: Making room reservation easy for students and faculty. Code4Lib Journal [Electronic journal]. 01 June 2010, Issue 10. [Cited 12 Sep 2017]. Available at:

Open DigiCampus. 2017. KIRA-digi, Lahti University of University of Applied Sciences. [Cited 9 Dec 2017]. Available at:

Penny, Janelle. 2012. Communicate campus-wide with digital signage: boost awareness and broadcast important messages with real-time sign updates. Buildings. Vol. 106 (5), (May 2012), 46-48, 50-51.

Yealamarthi, K. & Aman, Md.S. & Abdelgawad, A. 2017. An Application-Driven Modular IoT Architecture. Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing [Electronic journal]. Volume 2017, Article ID 1350929. [Cited 9 Dec 2017]. Available at:

About the authors

Timo Turunen, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Technology

Satu Hyökki, Project Director

Hannu Kaikonen, Project Manager

Minna Asplund, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Technology

Published 20.12.2017

Reference to this publication

Turunen, T., Hyökki, S., Kaikonen, H. & Asplund, M. 2017. Open Digi Campus Technical Challenges. LAMK RDI Journal. [Electronic journal]. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at:

Creative Commons -lisenssi

Improving performance of the SME sector by developing business mentoring in international co-operation

The article is based on the Trust Me – Training for Unique Skills and Techniques for Mentoring project (2015-2018) aiming to elaborate a training of future SME mentors in international cooperation. The project was funded by Erasmus+ programme, KA2 Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices, Strategic partnerships for higher education. The project developed a sophisticated curriculum for mentors and started the development of networks of mentors with the long term objective to create national networks covering regions, countries and whole European regions. The Trust Me Business Mentor Skills Development Programme is aimed for those individuals who support SME owners and CEO’s to grasp business opportunities, solve problems and grow their business using mentoring skills in order to be effective and provide real added value.

Authors: Miika Kuusisto & Ulla Kotonen

Performance of SME sector

According to the SME Performance Review of the European Commission (2017e), SMEs are an important part of the non-financial business economy in Europe, also in Finland, France, Hungary and Romania, the partner countries of the Trust Me (2017) project.

Table 1. Basic facts of enterprises in Finland, France, Hungary and Romania (European Commission 2017a, 2017b, 2017c and 2017d)

Enterprise birth rates in 2014 ranged, among these four countries, from 7.9 % to 10.2 %. The average employment size of newly born enterprises ranged from 1.0 persons to 2.2 persons. In 2013, enterprise death rates were particularly low, between 5.2 % and 11.5 %. The lowest numbers of all rates were in Finland and the highest in Romania. (European Commission 2017f.)

Table 2. Business demography in Finland, France, Hungary and Romania (European Statistics 2017f)

Based on the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA), the EU’s flagship policy initiative to support small and medium-sized enterprises, Finland’s SME sector has one of the most competitive profiles in the EU. The Finnish SME sector surpasses the EU average in seven out of nine SBA principle areas. (2016 SBA Fact Sheet – Finland.) France’s SBA profile is, in most areas, in balance with the EU average, whereas Romania’s SBA profile gives a mixed picture, and Hungary’s SBA profile contains many weaknesses (European Commission 2017a, 2017b, 2017c and 2017d).

Figure 1. SBA profiles of Finland, France, Hungary and Romania compared with EU averages. (European Commission 2017a, 2017b, 2017c and 2017d)

In entrepreneurship, Romania is above the EU average but in internationalisation, environment, and skills and innovation, far behind the EU average. Skills and innovation seems to be the most problematic, less than in other countries. The Hungarian SME sector trails the EU average in six principles.

It is recognised in most countries that SMEs need special help for their growth. Traditionally, help is offered by facilitating the external environment and developing entrepreneurial culture and environment as well as access to finance. Nowadays, strengthening the internal capabilities is often seen as an alternative or supplementary strategy for SME development, and training is recognised as an important tool for developing the internal capabilities of SMEs (Manimala & Kumar 2012).

Training practices in SMEs

Based on the last Continuing vocational training survey by Eurostat (2010), the ratio of training employees seems to increase with the growth of the companies. In Hungary, the training intensity differs significantly between the size-categories. There, small companies invest visibly less in the training of their employees than medium- and large-sized companies or Finnish or French small and medium-sized companies. However, the Hungarian training intensity is higher than Romania, where the training level is much lower than all the other three countries and the average of EU countries.

Table 3. Distribution of companies providing any forms of training to their employees (in % of all companies in 2010) in Finland, France, Hungary and Romania (Eurostat 2010).

In addition to the training of employees, also training and competence development of managers is important in the SMEs. The OECD (2002) has reported a positive correlation between the level of managers’ training and SMEs’ performance. The International Labour Organisation (2014) has assisted governments, employers’ and workers’ organisations, and other institutions in scaling up management training and establishing support systems to address the needs of SMEs. Over the years, development in expertise, networks and supporting organisations, especially for start-ups, micro and small entrepreneurs, has occurred. On the other hand, large companies have their own in-company training programmes, and they invest in the training of managers and leaders. The medium-sized companies and their managers seem to be in some kind of gap when it comes to their own development. The biggest reasons for differences between the training of SMEs and large companies are financial and time resources, as well as efficiency expectations (Doe 2017). First, fewer resources of SMEs typically means less funding for training and limited options to invests in development. Thus, it is also more important to show increased employee and company performance. The limited financial resources are also seen in the use of time and difficulties in balancing working time and training time. SME managers especially have difficulties in finding time for training.

Business mentoring

It is obvious that SME managers also need support and training.  Coaching, and especially mentoring, are seen as cost-efficient and flexible training methods for SME managers’ training. Utrilla & Torraleja’s study (2013) established that mentoring is an important tool for family businesses too. Both coaching and mentoring are “activities of professional and personal development with focus on individuals (and teams) and relying on the client’s own resources to help them to see and test alternative ways for improvement of competence, decision making and enhancement of quality of life. A professional coach or mentor is an expert in establishing a relationship with people in a series of conversations with the purpose of serving the clients to improve their performance or enhance their personal development or both, choosing their own goals and ways of doing it.” (European Mentoring and Couching Council & al. 2011, 3) Coaching is more about facilitating the client’s learning process by using professional methods and techniques, whereas mentoring is more like a development process involving a transfer of skills and knowledge from a more-experienced to a less-experienced person through learning dialogue (European Mentoring and Couching Council & al. 2011). Thus, business mentors should always have professional business competencies and experiences not only the methodological know-how.

In practice, business mentoring services and programmes are offered by a number of different national and regional SME supporting organisations as a part of their services. The mentoring services and programmes offered by the regional organisations of the Federation of Finnish Enterprises, in Finland, the Institute of the Entrepreneurial Mentoring (IME) in France, the Association of Young Entrepreneurs’ (FIVOSZ) and the National Research, Development and Innovation Office in Hungary are examples of this kind of mentoring services. There are also specific non-profit national and international mentoring organisations, such as the Business Mentors Finland (Suomen Yrityskummit), which is the largest nationwide mentoring network (a non-profit association) of experienced entrepreneurs and business managers in Finland and a global mentoring network MicroMentor.

Some of the business mentoring services are sector specific (e.g. ICT specific mentoring by the ACE consortium in several European countries, social enterprise focused mentoring by NESsT and !GEN Social Innovation Agency in Hungary). Respective, some of mentoring programmes, such as the Women business leaders mentoring programme by Finland’s Chamber of Commerce, MentorNet – a network of female mentors by the Foundation for Small Enterprise Economic Development (SEED) in Hungary –  are targeted at certain smaller groups.  In addition to the free-of-charge mentoring services, there are a lot of different private consultancy companies, such as Berater SRL and Integra HR SRL in Romania, the Business Mentoring Network in the UK, and the Management Mentors Europe as a part of the worldwide Management Mentors, Inc.

Mentoring Training Programmes

If you are a good business manager, it does not necessarily mean that you are also a good business mentor.  Respectively, the mentoring skills without business experience are not enough for acting as a business mentor.  In general, there are a huge number of different mentoring training programmes in Europe but only part of them have focused on business mentoring, and even a few of them are accredited by the European Mentoring and Couching Council (EMCC). In August 2017, there were no accredited Finnish mentors in the EMCC European Individual Accreditation (EIA) Holders register (EMCC 2017a) or accredited Finnish mentoring programmes in the EMCC EQA Holders register (EMCC 2017b). At the same time, there were six accredited training programmes in France and two programmes in Hungary. In Romania, there were two individual EIA holders, but no accredited mentoring programmes. In Hungary, there were five EIA accredited and 46 in France.

Also, in Finland, several organisations, also some of the universities, organise/have organised non-accredited mentoring trainings. However, those trainings are not focused on business mentoring, but for example on the mentoring of teachers, students, young talents, immigrants, job-seekers etc. Also, different health care sector-focused mentoring trainings have become more common. One of the latest examples of business mentoring training programmes are Business Mentor –valmennus by Vocational Adult Education Sedu in 2009 and South Savo Vocational College together with regional enterprise organisations and the Finnish Business Mentors Association.

Business Mentors’ Competence Framework

The European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), which develops, promotes and sets the expectation of best practices in mentoring and coaching in Europe, is a key player in experience sharing of mentors. It has published a mentor’s competence framework in 2009 (EMCC 2015). The competence framework works as an assessment tool by providing a description of a mentor at four distinct levels of development (Foundation, Practitioner, Senior Practitioner, and Master practitioner). It helps mentors understand their level of development and training providers to evaluate the behaviours of a mentor, to categorise the level that the mentor and the level and effectiveness of mentor training programmes.

The competency framework (EMCC 2015) is suitable for all kinds of mentoring, including eight competence categories focusing on personal and interpersonal skills, as well as the mentoring process: 1) Understanding self, 2) Commitment to self-development, 3) Managing the contract, 4) Building the relationship, 5) Enabling insight and learning, 6) Outcome and action orientation, 7) Use of models and techniques, and 8) Evaluation. As a general competence framework for mentors, it does not include any business or professional specific competencies, which are mentioned for example by Clutterbuck (2005) and Clutterbuck & Lane (2005). Based on the above-mentioned competence frameworks of mentoring and the benchmarking of existing mentoring training programmes, a business mentoring competence framework was defined in the Trust Me project. The competence framework consists of 10 business skills, a mentoring process and four soft mentoring skills:

  • Can analyse business environment
  • Can analyse market demand and supply
  • Can analyse, manage and develop business strategies
  • Can analyse, manage and develop production
  • Can analyse, manage and develop financial management
  • Can analyse, manage and develop investments
  • Can analyse, manage and develop human resources
  • Can analyse, manage and develop marketing
  • Can analyse, manage and develop logistics
  • Can analyse, manage and develop research, development and innovation activities
  • Can manage the mentoring process
  • Has self-awareness and behavioural awareness
  • Is able to manage mentoring relationships and communicate with a mentee
  • Is committed to own learning and interested in helping others
  • Is able to identify ethical questions and behave ethically
Trust Me Business Mentoring Training Programmes

Based on the identified competence requirements, a business mentoring training programme was developed in the international cooperation. The trainings are targeted to SME managers and to the master degree students with business entrepreneurship/business experience. Depending on the trainees’ backgrounds and experiences, training stays between levels one (Foundation) and two (Practitioner) in the four-level mentoring accreditation scale. The aim of the mentoring training is to give an understanding of the practice of mentoring and the core skills of mentoring. After the training, the mentoring trainee should be able to work as an internal mentor and carry out small external mentoring processes. The training makes it also possible to increase business know-how. The training consists of three contact days supported by an e-learning package and business simulation game. In an optimal situation, the training will continue with a real business mentoring case.

The training programme was piloted in Finland, France, Hungary and Romania during autumn 2017. The basic structure of the training was same in all of the countries, but the exercises and details were based on national/regional circumstances and the differences of target groups. In Finland, the first mentoring training pilot was 5 ECTS credits; it was offered as an elective study course for master degree students of Lahti UAS but also to regional SME managers and entrepreneurs. The master degree students of the universities of applied sciences are a good target group, because most of them have a long working history. One of the project’s results was also the Trainers’ Handbook, which includes a total of 18 exercises for each phase of the mentoring process:  five for the preparatory phase, six for the negotiating/contracting phase, four for facilitating mentorship, and three for closing the mentoring process.

Future of the Business Mentoring Training Programme

In the future, the project partners as the organisers of the Trust Me Mentoring Training Programme can apply for the European Quality Award (EQA), a quality standard for mentoring programmes, to make training more recognisable. Also, the mentors who completed the Trust Me Mentoring Training Programme can apply for the European Individual Accreditation (EIA), an accreditation system for individual mentors and coaches, after gaining mentoring experiences.


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Clutterbuck, D. & Lane, G. 2005. The Situational Mentor: An International Review of Competences and Capabilities in Mentoring. London: Routledge.

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European Commission. 2017d. 206 SBA Fact Sheet Romania. [Online document]. [Cited 8.8.2017]. Available at:

European Commission. 2017e. SME Performance Review. Annual Report on European SMEs 2015/2016. [Online document]. [Cited 8.8.2017].

European Commission. 2017f. Structural business statistics overview. [Online document]. [Cited 8.8.2017].

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European Mentoring and Coaching Council, International Coach Federation, Association for Coaching & Société Francaice de Coaching. 2011. Professional Charter for coaching and mentoring. [Online document]. [Cited 9.8.2017]. Available at:–2.pdf

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About the authors

Kuusisto Miika, (Masters of BA), is a Senior Lecturer of logistics at Lahti University of Applied Sciences. He has been a project manager for Trust Me project, which developed a business mentor’s competence framework and training program in an international co-operation. His other competence areas are Supply web and business development, theses supervisions and RDI-activities.

Kotonen Ulla, DSc (Econ and Bus Adm), is an RDI Director of the Smart Business focus area at Lahti University of Applied Sciences. She has previously worked as an RDI Development Manager at Lahti University of Applied Sciences and FUAS – Federation of Universities of Applied Sciences, as well as a professor of accounting at Lappeenranta University of Technology’s School of Business.

Published: 19.12.2017

Illustration: (CC BY-NC-SA)

Reference to this publication

Kuusisto, M. & Kotonen, U. 2017. Improving performance of the SME sector by developing business mentoring in international co-operation. LAMK RDI Journal. [Electronic journal]. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at:

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Good practices in bio-based circular economy in Vietnam

Circular economy is raising interest all over the world. In a bio-based circular economy, material and nutrient flows form loops. The article presents selected Vietnamese good practices in bio-based circular economy.

Authors: Vie Huynh and Susanna Vanhamäki

A brief overview of bio-based circular economy

Limited natural resources and climate change are driving us towards new economic and ecological solutions. Circular economy offers one answer to these challenges. In the current linear economy, natural resources are transformed into products and then dumped into the environment after being used. In a circular economy, however, material flows form loops: material is recycled for other purposes after usage. (EMF 2013)

The circular economy consists of biological and technical flows (EMF 2017). The bio-based circular economy concentrates on material in biological cycles, i.e. the circular use of bio-based resources e.g. bio-waste, wood products, wastewater sludge and agricultural residues.

Recently, circular economy has been adopted in international and national policies, showing that these nations are moving from rhetoric to action. In 2015, the European Commission (2015) released the Circular Economy Package, an action plan concerning the EU’s transition towards a Circular Economy. In addition, China and France have laws concerning circular economy (Balkau 2017). Nevertheless, in addition to strategies on national level, concrete actions are also necessary. In fact, in quite many cases, this is where the development begins.

The country discussed in this article, Vietnam, is at a stage where circular economy is not yet in strategic focus. However, local circular economy actions are still emerging.

Current state of the Vietnamese bio-based circular economy

During the 20th century, the concept of closing the nutrient loops was implemented to some extent in Vietnam. In the agricultural sector, waste from one activity was used as input for another activity. However, due to rapid economic development, the use of chemicals has rapidly replaced the more sustainable but less profitable nutrient-loop model. This came with a heavy price to the environment. (Renewable matter 2017)

Currently, approximately 28 million tons of waste is annually released into the Vietnam environment, 46% of which comes from municipal sources (Schneider et al. 2017). It is interesting to note that 60-70% of the municipal solid wastes is bio-waste, which can be biologically recycled, e.g. turned into compost and/or biogas (Tran et al. 2014). However, the majority of solid waste in Vietnam is either burned or landfilled. For example, 76% of household waste in Vietnam’s biggest city – Ho Chi Minh City – is buried in landfill sites (Báo Mới 2017). This gap between potential and reality of recycling can be seen as potential in the development of a bio-based circular economy in Vietnam.

According to Báo Mới (2017), there has already been a project to categorize household wastes at source in six districts of Ho Chi Minh City, reaching 20-30% categorization rate. Nonetheless, the impact of this project is questionable, as there is insufficient processing technology and infrastructure in the city. The categorized wastes are just grouped back together after being transported to existing waste facilities. Should this project be applied more successfully on a larger scale, a significant amount of waste would be turned into useful materials (Tran et al. 2014).

The recycling industry in Vietnam is undeveloped and very fragmented. In this industry, there is an interesting line of work where people roam around landfill sites to collect recyclable materials and sell back to recycler for a living. This job is called “ve chai” in Vietnamese. However, this way of recycling is extremely inefficient, and “ve chai” collectors barely make a living. (Vietnam Online 2015)

Notable good practices in Vietnam

Biogas in Huế

From 2011 to 2014, BAJ – a Japanese non-profit organization – funded to install 37 biogas digesters in rural areas of Hue city (Bridge Asia Japan 2011; Bridge Asia japan 2014). Those digesters turn livestock manure into biogas, which was initially used for cooking and in-home lighting. These biogas systems have saved approximately 250 USD per month in cooking/lighting costs for each participating family. This amount is significant as Vietnamese GDP per capita is only around 2200 USD/year. The digesters have also led to the development of a street-lighting system utilizing excess biogas produced at night. Excess gas would have been wastefully released otherwise. These systems have made the previously unlit streets much safer for local people. ( 2013; Thuy Xuan ward’s People’s Committee 2014).

Bio-fertilizer in Đà Nẵng

A Japan International Co-operation Agency has provided 500,000 USD of funding to setup a biomass liquid fertilizer factory in Đà Nẵng city. This factory applies the organic waste circulation system developed in Chikujo (Japan) to turn municipal wastes into liquid fertilizer for agriculture activities. By 2016, initial testing facilities capable of processing 3.5 tons of waste a day have been operational. This new fertilizer reportedly helps crops to grow healthier. Excess use of the fertilizer does not result in chemical residuals in plants and land like other current chemical fertilizers. Furthermore, the price is roughly 10% that of their chemical counterparts, which greatly helps farmers, since they previously spent 10-20% of their revenue on fertilizers. (Vietnam News 2015)

Solid waste recycling in Đà Nẵng

In 2015, Đà Nẵng’s department of natural resources and environment, together with Vietnam Environment Corporation, introduced the first phase of the Khánh Sơn solid waste processing composite. The investment totals 40 million USD, resulting in a composite that can categorize and process 200 tons of household solid wastes a day. Wastes are turned into oil (industrial fuel), bio-char (soil-fertility supplement), and bricks (building materials). The facilities have achieved up to 0% solid landfill waste ratio. Its introduction has greatly reduced the burden on Khánh Sơn landfill site, which is imminently overloaded and is scheduled to close in 2020. (Tuổi Trẻ Online 2015)


The development of a circular economy in Vietnam is still in its infancy, both in terms of awareness, technology and infrastructure. There are few policies and investments backing this concept. The majority of financial and technological support comes from international environmental organization in the region, especially from Japan. There is, however, great potential in the management of municipal solid wastes. The majority of those wastes can be biologically recycled into valuable materials. Last but not least, although sporadic and limited in scope, there are a number of bio-based circular activities that hint at a promising future for Vietnam.


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Tuổi Trẻ Online. 2015. Đà Nẵng có công nghệ xử lý chất thải rắn thành dầu, than (Da Nang now has the technology to process solid waste into oil and charcoal). [Electronic newspaper]. [Cited 15 Nov 2017]. Available at:

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Vie Huynh is a 2nd year student in International Business at Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

Susanna Vanhamäki is the Project Manager for BIOREGIO project at Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

Published 11.12.2017

Illustration: (CC0)

Reference to this publication

Huynh, V. & Vanhamäki, S. 2017. Good practices in bio-based circular economy in Vietnam. LAMK Pro. [Electronic magazine]. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at:

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Co-creating Rustenburg Circular Economy Road Map in South Africa

The city of Rustenburg is drafting a road map towards circular economy as a part of cooperation project Co-creating Sustainable Cities with Lahti (Finland) and Ho (Ghana). The road map is drafted with the help of baseline studies, stakeholder discussions and a series of three co-creation workshops in Rustenburg.

Author: Maarit Virtanen

The main objective in Rustenburg is the diversification of economy and creation of jobs through circular economy. Circular economy solutions would also support environmental protection and waste management aims. At the moment, the economy of region is based on mining. During the first two co-creation workshops, four main areas of interest have been identified:  1. Value creation through material recycling; 2. Composting of biodegradable waste; 3. Development of repair and reuse services; 4. Education and awareness raising.

Value creation through technical material recycling

In Rustenburg, the waste collection system covers most of the city area, except for rapidly spreading informal settlements. There is no official recycling of waste, but waste pickers circle the streets and landfill collecting and selling materials. The aim in Rustenburg is to formalise waste recycling, to introduce waste separation at source to households and businesses, and eventually to process some of materials in the area. There are altogether 13 buy back centres for materials in Rustenburg, but the processing is done in Pretoria, Johannesburg or other locations.

Figure 1. Waste pickers taking materials to a buy back centre

Waste separation at source will enhance the material recovery from waste and ease material processing, as organic waste is separated from other materials. It will also provide better income and working conditions for waste pickers and recyclers. Separation at source can be introduced through pilots at selected businesses and communities. The pilots help to specify, which materials should be sorted at source and which can be sorted at the collection or transfer sites. There are already markets for different types of plastics and papers, cardboard, glass and metals.

To ensure effective collection of recyclable materials, sites for sorting and storing of materials should be established. Currently, transportation is a challenge for recyclers working in townships outside the city centre, and there are problems with littering, when recyclers sort the waste on streets.  In the designated sites, recyclers could do the final sorting of materials, after which materials were transported in larger quantities to the existing buy back centres in Rustenburg. Once the process of collection, sorting and sales is functioning, the income from sales can be invested in, for instance, bailers, shredders and transport trucks. Further investment can be sought for a conveyor belt to ease the sorting.

The recycling process can be further developed by establishing municipal buy back centres, if this is seen as an economically viable option instead of selling materials through existing centres. Once the availability of recyclable materials is ensured, processing of some materials can be developed. These can include, for example, manufacturing of pellets from PET bottles, or manual handling of WEEE to separate most valuable components for sale.

Composting of biodegradable waste

The composting of biodegradable waste, including garden waste, kitchen waste and organic waste from businesses will help to divert waste from the landfills and makes the separation of recyclable materials from waste easier and more profitable.

The composting can also be begun with a pilot on, for example, restaurants and selected residential areas. The pilot can be done with open air composting, but it should also be studied, whether, for instance, drum composting could be used to improve the efficiency. After the composting systems is functioning, the ready compost can be sold for agriculture or be utilised by the municipality.

If the collection of biodegradable waste proves successful, and the amounts of organic material are adequate, production of biogas can be a viable option. One pilot scale biogas plant is in operation in Rustenburg, with positive experiences on both gas production and utilisation of compost for gardening. However, as biogas production requires investments, it must be ensured that there is a reliable feedstock for the production.

Development of repair and reuse services

One of key elements in circular economy is to lengthen product lifetime through reuse, remanufacturing and repairing. There is a large number of small-scale repair services in Rustenburg for various products scattered around the town. Industrial estates are developed in Rustenburg for different townships, and these could also act as centralised areas for repair services.

Concentrating services in certain areas could promote the accessibility of services through joint marketing and the entrepreneurs could develop the services together through, for example, join investment on machinery. In addition, proper waste management and recycling would be easier to provide, if the activities were located in certain areas.

Figure 2. Services available at an informal settlement

Education and awareness raising

An important part of circular economy is integrating it into education at different levels to enable broader change in, for example, product design, consumption patterns and business models.

The existing environmental awareness raising programs with schools and other stakeholders can be used and further developed to promote circular economy thinking. In Rustenburg, this can in the long run include also establishing college or university degree programs on circular economy.

Next Steps

The next steps in cooperation are specifying the activities and funding opportunities for circular economy pilots. Work is already well under way in Rustenburg in both formalisation of waste picking and piloting the separation at source. There is also interest for cooperation with Finnish companies, and the aim is to invite some of them to the next co-creation workshop in Rustenburg in March 2018. The Circular Economy Road Map will be integrated into municipal plans to promote the implementation of activities.

The road map and cooperation in Rustenburg is a part of Co-creating Sustainable Cities project funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Lahti University of Applied Sciences implements the project together with the City of Lahti in 2017-2018. (Lahti University of Applied Sciences 2017.)


Lahti University of Applied Sciences. 2017. Co-creating Sustainable Cities Project. [Cited 4 Dec 2017]. Available at:

About the author

Maarit Virtanen is the Project Manager for Co-creating Sustainable Cities and Kiertoliike projects at Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

All pictures by the author.

Published 8.12.2017

Reference to this publication

Virtanen, M. 2017. Co-creating Rustenburg Circular Economy Road Map in South Africa. LAMK Pro. [Electronic magazine]. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at:

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