Aihearkisto: Articles in English

Cultural perspectives in accounting services: Does intercultural competence matter

Due to globalization, cross-border business operations are continuously growing. Accordingly, different service providers have to deal with customers from different countries and provide their services worldwide. This tendency also influences accounting companies. The article aims to discuss the importance of intercultural competence for accounting service providers.

Accounting companies

Companies that specialize in providing accounting services are called accounting companies (Baltic Assist 2016). In order to provide integrated service solutions to their customers, accounting companies also cover a wide number of other financial administration services such as payroll, auditing, and consultancy services (Taloushallintoliitto 2018). Naturally, the range of services provided by accounting firms depends on the size and resources of any particular firm (Baltic Assist 2016).

Accounting is an important activity for every enterprise because it provides financial information that is used for economic decisions making (Atrill & McLaney 2011, 2-3). Moreover, accounting liabilities are regulated by the law (Leppiniemi & Kykkänen 2013, 18-19). But in spite of all mentioned above, accounting is not a core business activity for all enterprises and can be outsourced to accounting companies (1C 2018).

Accounting outsourcing becomes essential in the case when an entrepreneur decides to bring business operations to a foreign country. Accounting companies with their wide number of services that could be adjusted to certain customers’ needs become valuable business partners. They are able to compensate customers’ lack of legislation and taxation knowledge and take all responsibility for accounting on themselves. (1C 2018.)

Importance of intercultural competence

Intercultural service is a term used in the case when service providers and customers have different cultural backgrounds (Kenesei & Stier 2017, 307-308). People within one culture have common features such as values, behaviors, languages, symbols, and taboos. Representatives of any culture are unconsciously influenced by their own culture on an everyday basis. (Nieminen 2014, 31-32.)

Culture defines the way people perceive and deliver services as it is shown in Figure 1. Service quality criteria are also affected by culture. What is considered to be a good quality service in one culture does not necessarily apply to another culture. (Nieminen 2014, 31-32.) In other words, services implemented in the same way result in different levels of customers’ satisfaction depending on the culture of the customers (Kenesei & Stier 2017, 307-308).

FIGURE 1. Influence of culture on service perception (Nieminen 2014, 32)

In order to foresee expectations of foreign customers and decrease misunderstanding during interaction with them, service providers should develop intercultural competence. Intercultural competence defines an extension to which a person is respectful, opened and non-judgemental towards representatives of other cultures. Intercultural competence is an important quality for intercultural services providers because knowledge of other cultures enables best customer experience and minimize customers’ dissatisfaction. Intercultural competence should become a part of corporate culture and encourage and educate employees to work open-mindedly with customers from different cultures. (Kenesei & Stier 2017, 310.)

Cultural aspects in an accounting company

Influence of culture on customer experience was studied in the Thesis research of Karina Hagman (2018): “Accounting services for Russian entrepreneurs in Finland”. The qualitative research was implemented in order to study how to deliver exceptional accounting services to present and potential customers of the case company – Rantalainen Accounting Services Ltd. The case company is the third largest accounting services provider in Finland that offers its services to both Finnish and foreign customers. One of the target foreign customer groups of Rantalainen is  Russians companies.

The research showed that Russian customers expect accounting service provider to be culturally competent. Such conclusion was made on the basis of customers’ expectations and requests for accounting services that were analyzed during the research. First of all, respondents were very concerned about service providers’ ability to implement accounting services in the Russian language. Most of the respondents have named the language factor as a highly important component that affects their satisfaction. (Hagman 2018.)

Also, Russian entrepreneurs expect accounting providers to completely understand the Russian culture and business environment. Russian customers know that the Finnish and the Russian way of doing business  differ from each other, and they expect accounting service providers to recognize and respect these differences. Moreover, Russian customers want accounting companies to help them to develop their own intercultural competence towards Finnish culture and business. Respondents showed their interest in additional services such as consultancy about Finnish business culture, taxation, and legislation, help in networking, communication, and acquisition of potential customers and partners, and business-related translation services. (Hagman 2018.)

In conclusion

Accounting outsourcing is beneficial to foreign entrepreneurs but it also brings challenges to accounting companies. Success of intercultural customer services depends on the ability to understand foreign cultures and their representatives. It requires also multilingualism and readiness to recognize cultural dimensions without bias or generalization.

To develop intercultural competence, an accounting company needs to make it a part of its corporate culture and customer service strategy. Interculturally oriented corporate culture provides employees with necessary customer service education and tools. Intercultural customer strategy, in its turn promotes a better understanding of customers and their expectations. In summary, culture does matter for accounting companies and intercultural competence has to be integrated in their operations.


1C. 2018. Buchgalterskie uslugi: vigoda i riski dlja bisnessa. [Cited 4 May 2018]. Available at:

Atrill, P. & McLaney, E. 2011. Accounting and finance for non-specialists. 7th edition. Gosport: Ashford Colour Press Ltd.

Baltic Assist. 2016. How outsourcing of bookkeeping and accounting service works. [Cited 4 May 2018]. Available at:

Hagman, K. Accounting services for Russian customers in Finland: Case Company: Rantalainen Accounting Services ltd. [Online Document]. Bachelor’s thesis. Lahti University of Applied Sciences. [Cited 4 May 2018]. Available at:

Kenesei, Z. & Stier, Z. 2016. Managing communication and cultural barriers in intercultural service encounters. Strategies from both sides of the counter. Journal of Vacation Marketing. [Electronic journal]. Vol. 23(4), 307-321. [Cited 4 May 2018]. Available at:

Leppiniemi, J. & Kykkänen, T. 2013. Kirjanpito, tilinpäätös ja tilinpäätöksen tulkinta. Helsinki: Sanoma Pro Oy.

Nieminen, M. 2014. Monikultturinen asiakastyö. Helsinki: Tietosanoma.

Taloushallintoliitto. 2018. Tilitoimiston palvelut. [Cited 4 May 2018]. Available at:

About the authors

Karina Hagman has studied International Business at Lahti University of Applied Sciences and worked in the case company, Rantalainen Accounting Services Ltd, during the thesis research implementation.

Sirpa Varajärvi works as a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Business and Hospitality Management, Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

Illustration: (CC0)

Published 21.5.2018

Reference to this publication

Hagman, K. & Varajärvi, S. 2018. DuuniExpo as a learning environment of human resource management. LAMK Pro. [Electronic magazine]. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at:

DuuniExpo as a learning environment of human resource management

DuuniExpo (DE) is a recruiting and networking event organized annually in January by the students of Lahti University of Applied Sciences (Lahti UAS). DE is one of the learning environments where human resource management (HRM) practices can be learned. This article describes the role of the HR manager based on the experiences of the author when working as a HR manager in DE.

Authors: Riikka Karplund & Marja Leena Kukkurainen


The Lahti UAS curriculum for 2016-2018 builds on elements of transformative learning. One of the main elements of the study programme is learning by doing in real environments like projects, expecting to acquire real expertise and strong professional identity (Lahti UAS 2017). Professional expertise will develop by combining theory and practice (Tynjälä, Välimaa & Sarja 2003). Experiences in combining theory and practice in project learning environment have been reported in earlier studies as well (Kukkurainen 2017; Kukkurainen, Laisi & Tuominen 2016; Kukkurainen & Tuominen 2015).

DE is a learning environment where the students of Lahti UAS are able to complete several courses. The students of a HRM course accomplish each stage by themselves, including recruitment, budgeting, event planning, sales and marketing. The tasks are assigned within teams that are led by team managers, who form the management group together with the project manager and the HR manager. During the project, the students receive constant supervision and advice from the line manager group that consists of the personnel of the university. (Figure 1.)

FIGURE 1. Organization structure in DuuniExpo project

HRM in project context

According to Medina and Medina (2014), “HRM consists of the organizational activities aiming to manage the pool of human capital and ensure that the human resources are used to fulfil the organizational goals”. HRM as a competitive advantage is also recognized. According to Keegan, Huemann and Turner (2012), project-oriented organization is considered an agile way to organize resources, and applying projects is increasing constantly. However, as Medina and Medina (2014) state, project operations have special HRM needs.

Keegan et al. (2012) state that there are a wide range of HRM policies in the project organizations. Furthermore, there are differences in how the HRM procedures occur in different contexts. Despite this, line managers should play the key role in the implementation of the employment practices. Also Bredin and Söderlund (2011) point out the importance of the line managers’ role in HRM.

HRM practices in DuuniExpo

The line manager group participates in the selection of the DE project manager. The recruitment process starts every year around December-January and selecting the project manager is one of the first major tasks in project’s HRM. The process starts when the students on the HRM course make a recruitment plan. The line manager group steps in at the selection phase, as they all make the decision together.

Keegan et al. (2012) suggest that the most important HRM responsibility is the appointment of project personnel. This is the next big step in DE as well, right after the appointment of the project manager. Immediately after starting in the position, the project manager selects the HR manager of the project. They will then create a HRM strategy plan, which consists of planning the key practices for the project. These include HR planning, organization model planning, assessment, development, negotiation, compensation, occupational safety and health and systems in use (Valtiokonttori 2007). The main DuuniExpo HRM practices are described in Figure 2.

FIGURE 2. Main HRM practice categories in DE project

The HRM strategy planning process for DE produced the structure and procedures for project worker recruitment. The meetings and festivities schedule for the project was also planned, as well as the incentives. In addition, motivation, well-being and professional development issues were considered.


Since the project workers in DE project are students, they are not actually employed by the line organization. Even though project work always aims at learning and getting experience, it is crucial to acknowledge the special characteristics of DE and its dual substance and purpose. Firstly, the aim of the project is to produce an event while gaining zero profit or loss. Secondly, the project is a learning experience for the students, who achieve ECTS credits by working in the project.

From the HR manager’s point of view, rewarding and motivating the students are some of the greatest challenges for HRM in a student-run project organization. Students are not rewarded by a paycheck but ECTS credits that are based on the time consumption reported by the students themselves. This can result in granting study credits for minimal or poor quality of work and the students may report their working hours carelessly. A low level of motivation and input are common problems. On the other hand, the motivated workers can constantly show high performance and flexibility.

The evaluation of project work performance could be developed further. At the moment, the assessment of the project outcome and the performance level of the whole project team is done as a group. However, for individual professional development, evaluation of personal aims and performance should be included.

In a project-oriented organization, it is crucial to put all effort in maintaining motivation and team spirit. Consequently, as Bredin and Söderlund (2011) emphasize, co-operation between the project organization, line managers and the project workers is one of the key factors for the success of the project in the HRM field. Further investigation of HRM policies in student projects and student organizations is necessary in future.


Bredin, K. & Söderlund, J. 2011. The HR quadriad: a framework for the analysis of HRM in project-based organizations. The International Journal of Human Resource management. [Electronic journal]. Vol. 22(10), 2202-2221. [Cited 20 Jan 2018]. Available at:

Keegan, A., Huemann, M. & Turner, R. 2012. Beyond the line: exploring the HRM responsibilities of line managers, project managers and the HRM department in four project-oriented companies in the Netherlands, Austria, the UK and the USA. The International Journal of Human Resource Management. [Electronic journal]. Vol. 23(15), 3085-3104. [Cited 22 Jan 2018] Available at:

Kukkurainen, M. L. & Tuominen, U. 2015. Työhyvinvointiprojektin integrointi opintojaksoon.  Kokemuksia WelLog –projektista. In Huotari, P. & Väänänen, I. (eds.) Ylempi ammattikorkeakoulutus työelämää uudistamassa: Kokemuksia monialaisen TKI-toiminnan kehittämisestä. [Electronic book]. Lahti: Lahden ammattikorkeakoulu. Lahden ammattikorkeakoulun julkaisusarja. 60-68. [Cited 23 Jan 2018]. Available at:

Kukkurainen, M. L., Laisi, M. & Tuominen, U. 2016. Integrating learning and workplace experiences in the WelLog (Wellbeing in Logistic Centers). [Online publication]. In: Edulearn16. 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies: Conference Proceedings. Barcelona, Spain. July 4-6 2016. 1511-1517. [Cited 23 Jan 2018]. Available at:

Kukkurainen, M. L. 2017. YAMK –opiskelijoiden kokemuksia oppimisesta TKI -projektissa. LAMK RDI Journal. [Electronic magazine]. [Cited 23 Jan 2018]. Available at:

Lahti UAS (Lahti University of Applied Sciences). 2017. Pedagogical programme 2016–2018.[Cited 23 Jan 2018]. Available at:

Medina, R. & Medina, A. 2014. The project manager and the organization’s long-term competence goal. The International Journal of Project Management. [Electronic journal]. Vol. 32, 1459-1470. [Cited 12 Dec 2017]. Available at:

Tynjälä, P., Välimaa, J., & Sarja, A. 2003. Pedagogical perspectives on the relationships between higher education and working life. Higher Education, 46(2), 147 – 166.

Valtiokonttori. 2007. Hyvinvoiva henkilöstö strategisena voimavarana. Opas henkilöstöstrategian laatimiseen valtion virastoissa ja laitoksissa. Kaiku – Valtiokonttori. [Cited 6 Mar 2017]. Available at:

About the authors

Riikka-Emilia Karplund has studied Business and Administration at Faculty of Business and Hospitality Management at Lahti University of Applied Sciences and has graduated and received a BBA degree in April 2018.

Dr Marja Leena Kukkurainen works as a Lecturer at Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Social and Health Care.

Published 2.5.2018

Reference to this publication

Karplund, R. & Kukkurainen, M. L. 2018. DuuniExpo as a learning environment of human resource management. LAMK Pro. [Electronic magazine]. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at:

Modular website production

Website development could be greatly improved by utilizing standardization and modularization. Website development could be transformed into a modular service to provide more efficient solutions that are still unique and customer oriented. Modularity and platforms can be utilized to pre-develop key parts of websites for rapid production, customization and fast reproduction. The idea behind the modularity is to give the customers a better and faster experience, while standardizing the process to make it faster, more valuable and more efficient.

Authors: Teemu Nurmi and Sariseelia Sore

Defining methods for modular websites

Developing websites should incorporate platforms and modularity. This would allow for multiple websites to be made from pre-developed parts. The modular parts could be used to provide either completely customized websites with great efficiency or affordable pre-defined websites. Pre-developing functionality and layouts allows for faster development, as they can be reused multiple times. (Kardys 2014.)

A great analogy of modularity and platforms in productization was introduced by Hänninen, Kinnunen and Muhos (2012, 9-10). The modularity and platforms were introduced as a restaurant. A restaurants platform is the whole service event of getting food. Modularity comes from the customers choices of beverages, appetizers, main course, and desserts. The whole product is gathered from pre-defined and designed parts by the customer and made accordingly. (Hänninen et al. 2012, 9-10.) This same style can be adapted to website development by offering customers a choice of pre-defined and developed modules. Differing from the restaurant analogy, custom options can and should be an option. The key parts of websites like navigation options, different styles of headers, content pieces, and so on, can be pre-developed and then used as modular parts on websites. This helps with rapid development and customization of the websites. (Nurmi 2018, 23; Czech 2018.)

Platforms in websites can be seen as the layout. Platforms act as the base of a website, on which multiple modules can be added and switched to provide numerous different outcomes (Hänninen et al. 2012, 10-11). New websites can be customized from pre-existing platforms as they should have common functionality already developed. This means that new websites can use old development as a starting point to skip some development of a new website. For example, a new website can have 80% of it developed beforehand requiring none to minimal customization. (Kangas, Kropsu-Vehkaperä, Haapasalo & Kinnunen 2013, 113-114.)

Defining the modular website product

Modularity in website development should greatly increase efficiency of development and affordability of websites. This should increase both perceived value, as some end-products can be showed and offered to customers at the start, and product value, as it is massively more efficient than developing websites from scratch. (Nurmi 2018, 23.)

Conventional methods for website development are all functional but could be improved into better solutions. The key is balancing the service to suit customer’s needs and the utility of the service. Customer’s needs should be focused in modern product development as this will produce more value to all parties. The utility of the service should bring innovation to the development environment, as the goal is to provide more value.

FIGURE 1. Conventional development

FIGURE 2. Modular development

Comparisons between conventional development and modular development shows that they have minimal differences in the development route. The main difference is in the development stage where, in the modular example, the website is compiled from ready made parts, rather than developed from scratch. Examples for development routes for WordPress based websites are shown in Figures 1 and 2.

Figure 1 shows an example of conventional website development:

  • The website is ordered
  • The website is designed, then approved by the customer
  • Layout is developed according to design
  • Functionality is developed
  • Website is integrated to WordPress
  • Minor changes and fixes are made
  • Customer approves the website and it is deployed

Figure 2 shows an example of modular website development:

  • The website is ordered
  • Customer’s needs are mapped
  • A platform is selected
  • Platform is designed to fit customer needs, then approved by the customer
  • Functionality is added via chosen platform and modules
  • Platform and modules are customized to fit the design
  • Minor changes and fixes are made
  • Customer approves the website and it is deployed

Pre-developing parts of websites should allow for a more rapid development of new websites. Solutions can be built fast with functionality, that could take hours to develop, that is already fully developed, or in need of minor customization. This makes development efficient and affordable, as it takes less time. (Nurmi 2018, 23; Czech 2018.)

Modular development can be used to produce multiple end-products from a single platform. The end-products can either be completely customized websites, which are developed and modified from pre-defined and developed platforms and modular parts, or compilations of the same pre-developed platforms and modules with less customization. As Zhang (2017) stated, modularity on websites can be compared to Legos. The Legos you get from sets, can be used to build the intended toys. These sets can also be dismantled and used again to build custom Lego toys. (Zhang 2017.) The same applies to modular website development. A website built from pre-defined modules can be dismantled and the parts can be used to build new customized websites.

FIGURE 3. Modularity example

Figure 3 shows an example of how a single platform of four parts can have multiple different end-products. The platform has a header, navigation, content area and a footer. The header can have a small logo, a landing page or full screen image. Navigation can be sticky, conventional, or animated to close after scrolling. Content area can have a simple textbox, animated pop-ups, or a video. Footer can have a simple information area, a triple column layout, or social media buttons. These modules have a total of 81 possible combinations that can be achieved by just developing one platform with 12 modules. Having 81 different combinations from pre-developed parts saves a lot of time compared to developing all from scratch. Figure 4 shows an example layout for the platform for the modules from figure 3. The layout from figure 4 combined with a set of modules from figure 3 create a full website.

FIGURE 4. Platform example for module placement


Modularity is something that should be considered and adapted into modern website development. This methodology can bring a lot of additional value to website development. Bringing more efficient and affordable solutions to the market can boost the products visibility and approachability. There is a lot of potential in modular website production, as resources required to develop completely new versus almost finished products, is huge.


Czech, P. 2018. Modular Web Design: The Age Of “Templates” is Over. [Blog]. New Possibilities Group. [Cited 4 April 2018]. Available at:

Hänninen, K., Kinnunen, T. & Muhos, M. 2012. Rapid Productization – Empirical Study on Preconditions and Challenges. [Electronic document]. Working Papers in Department of Industrial Engineering and Management 1/2012. Oulu: University of Oulu. [Cited 4 April 2018]. Available at:

Kangas, N., Kropsu-Vehkaperä, H., Haapasalo & H., Kinnunen, T. 2013. Empirical aspects on defining product data for rapid productisation. International Journal of Synergy and Research. [Electronic journal]. Vol. 2 (1-2), 109-130. [Cited 4 April 2018]. Available at:

Kardys, D. 2014. Modular Web Design: Designing With Components. [Blog]. 18 December 2014. Websolutions Technology Inc. [Cited 5 April 2018]. Available at:

Nurmi, T. 2018. Productization of websites – Case study: WordPress. [Electronic document]. Bachelor’s thesis. Degree Programme in Business Information Technology. Lahti: Lahti University of Applied Sciences. [Cited 5 April 2018]. Available at:

Zhang, S. 2017. Learning from Lego: A Step Forward in Modular Web Design. [Blog]. 23 February 2017. 5000 Things. [Cited 6 April 2018]. Available at:

About the authors

Teemu Nurmi has studied Business Information Technology at Lahti University of Applied Sciences and will graduate and receive a BBA degree in May 2018.

Sariseelia Sore works as a Senior Lecturer in Business Information Technology Degree Programme at Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Business and Hospitality Management.

Illustration: (CC0)

Published 16 April 2018.

Reference to this publication

Nurmi, T. & Sore, S. 2018. Modular website production. LAMK Pro. [Electronic magazine]. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at:

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:

The importance of developing small businesses

The article describes why small businesses should focus more on developing their services. In the article, it is also introduced how companies can utilize service design models in their development projects.

Authors: Marja Kinnunen and Sari Suominen

Challenges companies face today

For big companies continuous development is a very important part of active business and everyday operations. But how about small companies? The world around us is continuously changing and it brings challenges to companies all the time. Therefore, companies need to follow all that is happening around them and to react quickly to keep up with today’s business world. (Mehtälä 2018.)

One way to ensure that company will keep up their position in today’s business world is to develop their functionality by thinking their customer´s needs. Many companies focus on their products instead of their customers. To keep your customers loyal to your company, you need to create them an excellent customer experience. It is important to be aware of your customers because they change as the world around you changes. (Mehtälä 2018; Allen et al. 2005.)

Growing your business is strongly related to developing your company’s functions. When you execute a development project, you should involve your employees in it. There may also be an opportunity for you to do some co-operation with another company. Most likely you will benefit from your staff and other companies in the project as they might give you some good ideas how to develop your business. At this stage, you should think what your aim is. Do you want to sell more products to your existing customers or are you planning to find new customers? What is your target? (Mehtälä 2018.)

Service design is an opportunity

Service design offers multiply choices to develop your company´s functions. You can use the service design tools for innovating new service concepts, improving existing services and customer experience, and for gaining customer understanding. With service design, you can work critical phases and background functions that need help. Service design enables you to gain more cost-effective solutions for your company. (Liimatainen 2016; Aunola 2016.)

The aim of service design is to offer you a realistic picture of the customers of your company. If you do not do this development project carefully, you might fail. The result for the problem may prove to be too expensive for your company’s customers and your company has been spending a lot of time and money without avail. Service design offers also an opportunity to look at your company´s inner actions and helps you to improve them. Quite often, different parts of the company do not function together effectively, and this might appear for your company’s customers as a bad service. (Liimatainen 2016.)

It is truly important to get a realistic image of your customers. Companies can have opinions about their customers’ needs but the truth is they do not really know. Bain & Company has studied the issue and the results show only 8% of the companies really operate according to the customers’ expectations. At the same time 95% of the companies believe their activities are customer focused. (Allen et al. 2005.)

Service design in developing the service process

Kinnunen (2018) wrote in her master´s thesis about service design models and how they can be used in developing a service process of the company. Entrepreneurs and small companies find it hard to have time for these kinds of development projects. Idea of the thesis was to build a so-called toolbox for companies who want to develop their service process effectively and easily. In the study, it was examined how the case company´s service process is proceeded and what kind of development issues there might come up. The case company provides party and wedding planning services. It represents micro sized service business. (Kinnunen 2018, 2-3, and 36.)

The toolbox for the case company was formed from four different parts that are used in various kinds of service design development projects. The same kind of toolbox could be utilized in other companies’ development projects as well. The toolbox case shows that it is possible, quite easily, to build personalized service design packages to small businesses, who want to plan and execute development projects efficiently. In the case process, the used methods were determined by the following limitations: time, easiness of the method and the wanted outcome. The study had a qualitative approach. The results show that the chosen service design methods worked well in the research. It was crucial that the researcher worked closely with people in the case company during the project. (Kinnunen 2018, 31, 33, 37, and 43-44.)

Reading your customer’s mind

When a company starts thinking about service development it usually starts describing the problem from the company’s point of view and not from the customer’s point of view (Allen et al. 2005; Aunola 2016). If you want to serve your customers in the best possible way, you will need to understand their needs. According to the studies, service design offers some valuable tools for gaining deeper customer understanding. Via service design approach, your company will be seen as an empathic and caring company who appreciates its customer’s needs. It can help your company to achieve better success in the business. (Aunola 2016.)

Referring to the study, it is fascinating how deep in the customer’s mind you can go by using the service design methods. It is important for the companies, however, to get familiar with the ideas of the service design methods before they start developing their services, processes or products using service design. First, they need to have an understanding of the reason and the vision for the development project. Then, they should clarify the vision to all participants of the project. That way all the parties will go after the same results and the project can be a success. (Kinnunen 2018, 37-38.)


The difference between design thinking and traditional service development is that modern service design really wants to understand customer’s needs. To get a deep insight in customer’s mind requires studying, observing and defining customer´s background as thoroughly as possible. It includes paying attention to the customer’s history and memories, for example. The background has an effect on people’s way of interacting. People are not usually able to tell us all the relevant information, so there is a need to use methods that help us to gain that valuable data. (Aunola 2016; Suikkanen 2018, 2.)

Companies should boldly look at things from new perspectives to get fresh ideas. It helps if a company is ready for an open and critical conversation that enables a new way of speaking about services. Service business is future business. Companies in traditional industries are little by little changing their functions from delivering products to delivering services. Services are unique, they include more value to customers, and they are less price-sensitive. Therefore, it is very important that companies invest in developing future services. Service design is a modern and customer-oriented way of developing services. That is why companies should create space for critical conversation and a meaningful process of translating good thinking into value propositions and offerings for their customers. (Aunola 2016; Suikkanen 2018, 5.)


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Kinnunen, M. 2018. When dreams come true: Service design methods as part of developing a small business. Case: Juhlahumua. Master´s Thesis. Lahti University of applied science, Degree programme in International Business Management. [Cited 12 Feb 2018]. Available at:

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Mehtälä, S. 2018. Haluatko menestyä? Kokenut sparraaja antaa neuvot yrityksen kehittämiseen. Yrityksen kehittäminen on jatkuvaa työtä. [Electronic journal] 30.1.2018. [Cited 12 Feb 2018]. Available at:

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Marja Kinnunen is a 3rd year student in Master of International Business at the Lahti University of Applied Sciences. She will graduate during Spring 2018.

Sari Suominen is a Senior Lecturer of Entrepreneurship and Leadership at the Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

Illustration: (CC0)

Published 6.3.2018

Reference to this publication

Kinnunen, M. & Suominen, S. 2018. The importance of developing small businesses. LAMK Pro. [Electronic magazine]. [Cited and date of citation]. Available at: