Processing the Incomes Register's data masses requires a lot from the system


The Incomes Register is a shared register of many different authorities. The earnings payment data of all Finnish citizens is reported to the register, as will be data on paid benefits, starting from 2021. Therefore, the functionality and efficiency of the system are constantly being monitored.

Incomes Register data is needed for various purposes in our society and the data must be available when needed. The obligation to report data within five calendar days means that, in connection with the most common paydays, large amounts of reports are submitted to the Incomes Register at the same time. Data needs to move quickly so that it can be distributed to data users as soon as possible.

The Incomes Register processed over 436,000,000 reports in 2019

On average, 140,000 earnings payment reports are submitted to the Incomes Register every business day. Over 500,000 earnings payment reports can be submitted on a single day in mid-month. The majority of data providers submit their reports automatically from a payroll system.

At the same time, various authorities retrieve data from the Incomes Register. In a single day, data users can submit as many as 1.4 million requests for data. Based on these requests, over 13 million reports are distributed from the register.

In 2019, the Incomes Register received over 53,000,000 reports in total, and distributed 383,000,000 reports to the data users. In total, the Incomes Register received and distributed over 436,000,000 reports during the whole year.

- This spring, due to the coronavirus outbreak, unemployment funds have been in far greater need of Incomes Register data than anticipated. In order to process daily allowance applications as quickly and efficiently as possible, earnings payment data has been retrieved increasingly via different service channels. Despite the growing number of requests, the response times of Incomes Register services have remained at a good level, says Terhi Holmström, Director of Incomes Register Unit.

The service is constantly being developed

Incomes Register's performance is being monitored and developed constantly. The benefits and pensions data to be reported in 2021 will increase the number of reports to be submitted and distributed. The performance of the Incomes Register is currently being prepared for this.

The Incomes Register's test cases are based on both actually measured as well as on anticipated maximum volumes. The tests cover the Incomes Register's most used services regarding the e-service, interface reception, interface distribution, and reporting. The tests produce service-specific data related to performance. This data is compared to the goals and measures will be taken based on it.

- In terms of performance, the Incomes Register has performed well. We are currently developing a method for statistical reporting on turnaround times and response times as well as measures for server and network load. This will enable us to offer better service, even as the volume keeps increasing, says Holmström.

The new functionalities of the Incomes Register are tested with both functionality and performance in mind. The Incomes Register has a separate testing environment for performance testing. At the same time, the Incomes Register stakeholders can test new functionalities and the functionality of services in the stakeholder testing environment.

- The stakeholder testing environments are intended for testing functionalities, and therefore their performance does not correspond to the actual Incomes Register system – and it wouldn't be practical either, says Holmström.

Volume needs are charted together with stakeholders

The future needs of the Incomes Register's customers and stakeholders are being constantly charted. The Incomes Register must anticipate these needs well in advance, and the performance of the service is developed based on them.

- We have worked purposefully, both within our organisation and in co-operation with stakeholders, in order to guarantee better performance. We have a good understanding of what the volumes of benefits payment data will be. Individual data providers will submit hundreds of thousands of benefits reports simultaneously. Our testing results seem promising. In the space of just one hour, the Incomes Register was able to receive as many as one million earnings payment reports, which meets the anticipated needs well. Next, we will test the simultaneous reception and distribution of earnings and benefits payment data, says Holmström.

- There's still work to be done, and I hope that stakeholders will take an active role as well. This is, after all, a shared register that is built in co-operation. Any input or discussion is most welcome – now is the time to act, as there are still six months to the deployment.