My MT-projects: Prediction models and replacing Google Maps

My name is Eirik, and I’m one of nine international Management Trainees (MTs) this year. In this post, I’ll tell you briefly about my three MT-projects so far. When this blog post is published, I’m already two thirds into my third project and have just returned from a holiday visiting Chamonix with some of my colleges. More about all of this below.

Project 1: Real-time data visualization

In Visma, we strive to make decisions based on evidence and data, but at the same time to be dynamic and work at a high pace. That means it is sometimes insufficient to get reports on our projects e.g. monthly. Preferably, we want to have data available live.

In my very first project as an MT, I worked on the division level for the SMB and Commerce Solutions divisions in Visma, two out of five divisions in the Visma group. My task was to improve their management’s day-to-day insights into a selected set of business areas and projects. I therefore created a set of dashboards showing live (or semi-live) analyses, progress and status for these, that now are displayed on monitors in the 9th floor in our offices at Skøyen, Oslo.

I think it was a great project, mainly of two reasons: I got to learn and work a lot in Tableau, a powerful visualization tool that Visma uses a lot. You can think of it as an advanced version of Excel with much more interactivity, tools for analysis and opportunities to work with data directly from multiple databases and data warehouses. That has proved helpful also for later projects. Secondly, I got to work on a high level in Visma, and to get an overview over many business units and projects, and of how Visma is structured.

Project 2: Predicting customer churn in the Netherlands

As Visma has offices in more than a dozen European countries, we MTs have good opportunities to go abroad for projects if we want. I have lived in other countries before, and wanted to take this opportunity to get to know a new country, and one emerging as a big and important market for Visma: The Netherlands. As my second project I went to Amsterdam to work on predictive analytics for one of our companies there. My objective was to make a prediction model that could indicate which customers of a specific product that were in the danger of churning (leaving).

Living in Amsterdam for seven weeks was a great experience. As a proper Dutch would do, I biked to work everyday on a bike I rented, and on the weekends I explored other cities than Amsterdam as well. And after spending a lot of time on data extraction, transformation and cleaning, I also managed to build a MVP (minimum viable product) of a prediction model. The next months will show how accurate my model actually was, which is exciting.

 

Project 3: Replacing Google Maps for distance calculations

Last year Visma created a new team called Optimization Technologies, now consisting of six people (and planning to grow), working on AI, machine learning and optimization related tasks in the Enterprise division of Visma. Currently, they are working on optimization problems within school administration, home health care and workforce management for nurses. This was something I considered a great opportunity together with the MT-program, and I thus stated a desire to have one project with them during my MT-year. And my wish was fulfilled.

The project I got, and that I am currently working on, is to replace the use of Google Maps in the optimization of home health care nurse schedules. Google Maps has an API that is both too slow for our purposes, lacks many addresses in rural parts of Norway, and way too expensive. In addition to looking at other commercial alternatives, I am developing a tool in-house that can run locally on open source maps and build on open source code for shortest path calculations. This tool currently manages to calculate tens of thousand of distances in less than a second, together with the time it takes driving or walking between the locations, for no cost. Exciting! During the next couple of weeks, I hope to be able  to deploy this as a working and easily accessible solution on a cloud server.

The social benefits of being an MT

Being a Management Trainee in Visma is not only about work and which projects you get. One of the things I appreciate the most about the MT-program is that Visma has had MTs for more than a decade, and thus several people all the way from myself and up to top management are MT-alumni. All the alumni know the program well, and appreciate the skills and knowledge we can contribute with. The big alumni also functions as a network inside Visma that allows us to easily connect with people across different divisions. We often meet for lunch or coffee, and social happenings.

During the year as a MT, we also have several gatherings just for our group, where we meet for a couple of days to learn new skills and to get to know each other better. This year we MTs added to this by organizing our own retreat as well, which we just came back from: a holiday for skiing in Chamonix. It was a pleasant surprise last autumn when we found out that Visma has a couple of cabins there, and that we also managed to book one. Five of the current year’s MTs, myself included, had a wonderful time skiing in the Alps, relaxing in the sun and sharing experiences so far from our projects. As you can see in the picture below, the weather was superb!

And now, just back in Oslo and ready to continue my current project, I also got to know that my next project will be in Stockholm. There I will get to work with something that sparked my interest already during my first MT-project: that Visma is currently entering financial services.

 

About

Eirik is a Management Trainee at Visma. He holds a MSc in Industrial Economics and Technology Management from the NTNU, with specialization in Artificial Intelligence. He has exchanged to both Germany and the US, and has also studied and worked for a period in Russia. Eirik has experience from consulting, politics and several NGOs.
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