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The robot who put a smile on project manager Knuts face

HG has hired a digital employee, one who will go to work every night updating hundreds of insurance cases. This way its human colleagues don't have to fry their brains on small, repetitive tasks. And rather excel in their career.


For several years – handling an incoming wave of constant updates on loads of insurance cases every week – ultimately gave Knut some gray hairs. The frustration of the repetitive, and often quite boring click and drag-movements affected the project manager in a bad way.

– It could affect my whole workday, and even the relationships with both clients and colleagues, says Knut V. Gjermstad.

Although he is laughing a bit. 


We will tell you later.

Knut is a one of 150 project managers at Håndverksgruppen, and he oversees approximately 40 insurance cases per week at the painter company Regnbuen in Oslo. For years he manually had to update all projects in a cloud system.

The thing is, before Knut can send any of his painters out to color the world, he needs to know if the timing is right. If damage control has done their jobs first for instance. 

If, after a water damage, walls or roofs are dry. If, after a collapse of some sort, the wood is built back together – so all is ready for surface work. But these pre-painter-taks often get moved around. Things happen. People cancel, get sick, they discover “pink elephants', meaning unforeseen problems that need solving – all before the surface craftspeople can start to get their hands dirty.


Why fry your brain handling repetitive and frustrating tasks?

All of these changes need updates. Digital updates. Clicks and drags that are small, boring, repetitive and sometimes frustrating assignments. But still quite important. Because every person involved in an insurance case needs to know what to do when. If not, the work gets bigger, longer and more expensive. The clients would very much like to know when they can expect every step of the rescue process of their home to be done. If not they are not able to move back home. 

And also, the insurance companies require that all project managers at Håndverksgruppen as  accurately and as often as possible update their time schedule for their clients. 

This. Is. Stressful. Why? It needs constant supervision. So, the time spent to do these updates could instead be done by a robot. The time saved could be given back to the human project manager to do other, more important work.

– Like what?

– Like making better connections with our damage control partners, in order to get more projects on our hands, or do follow up on the painters who might have missed a few square meters of wall on the final invoice, and in that way get more revenue, says Knut.

“I will still have to work of course, but I can do my job smarter and more effectively”



  • Four full-time positions every year, just spent on shifting dates in software. 
  • Repetitive and stressful tasks drain staff morale.
  • A robot has taken over, without taking anyone's job.
  • Human work shifted towards creating more value.

The digital employee who is crazy about “boring”

A few weeks ago Knut literally jumped in his rotating office chair. He got real excited and gave people high-fives. You see, he got to know that these tasks from now on were going to be done by a new colleague: A robotic process automation system.

This new digital employee of Håndverksgruppen has its own log-in and username. It will work every night from 02:00 till 06:00 – and in the morning have done all the clicking and dragging in order to update all projects.

It is quite cool to watch while it works. It is like a ghost has taken over a person's keyboard, the arrow glides over the screen, stuff gets moved, you can see it all in real time, only no human fingers are touching the letters or mouse. The system will work through all the cases in a speeding movement and in the end send reports to each and every project manager in Håndverksgruppen, every morning. 

This will save Knut one to two hours of work per week. Said in another way: More than one whole work week per year.

– It is so cool!


The robot offer humans time slots to do a smarter, better job

As innovation goes, “The Digital Employee” could be able to handle a bunch of other, even more complicated tasks in the future. He is still quite new to this job, but so far it's gone well. Only today, when we visit Knut in the marine blue office at Alna in Oslo, his digital colleague has solved nearly 100 updates on all kinds of different projects – just since this morning. 

Knut can only smile, and sit back in his chair. 

Just sip another coffee for an extra hour every Friday?

– He-he, no, I will still have to work of course, but I can do my job smarter and more effectively. I can calculate a new job instead, or go out and help my workers. I will also not have to get so frustrated all the time. I mean, I would fry my brain at times, feeling that I had just spent a lot of time on something quite un-productive. Work that made it harder to go back to the other, more important tasks, says Knut.


“All the human interaction we do every day no robot will be able to handle.”


– This feeling could also lower my work loyalty at times, and affect the relationship to people around me. Negativity will spread faster than positivity, unfortunately, he says. 

And this is where he is laughing a little bit. 

– But what could you do, you know, he says.

– What exactly made you so frustrated?

– Well, updating projects is really boring, and it seems unnecessary for a human to do it when it could be done by a machine. So I think I speak for all project managers when I say this evolution is very welcome. And I think more could be done with this system. Maybe he could take a look at invoicing, or maybe even salaries, says Knut.

Relax – no-one will lose their jobs

He is right. Just ask Hanne Fagerlie, one of two project managers in HG who will be the bosses of the new system. Overseeing, making sure it does its job correctly.

Hanne says the work the system is doing every night in total will save Håndverksgruppen four whole positions per year. 

– Every time a project needs updating, it takes one of our 150 project managers two minutes each time, in the end that's months of work. In the future we would like this system to handle different kinds of tasks as well. The possibilities are endless, she says.

– Please share?

– The robot could for instance handle invoicing, registration of travel bills or new employees – or collect statistics or information about what office should do better, what office is doing great and so on, Hanne says.

– But, Knut, does this mean you or some of your human colleagues might lose their jobs soon?

– Absolutely not! All the human interaction we do every day no robot will be able to handle. I also don't think we as a society want that to happen. Humans need to speak to and work with other humans. As far as the profession itself, I think we can benefit from robots doing lots of the digital tasks, but the art and creativity of our industry no one does better than people, he says. 

Innovation, digitalization and getting help from the technical world is something Håndverksgruppen has been interested in speeding up lately. 

– The traditional crafts industry lacks behind when it comes to innovation in general, so I think it is amazing that HG has such a forward thinking approach to implementing new and exciting digital help. I think the whole profession will get much better when we do this because lots of employees can get happier, more efficient and use time on more important rather than, in some ways, unnecessary tasks, says Knut.