In the media

Manual processes slow down government processes – digitalisation of workflow management systems is the way forward

By Erik Mossberg

IDG Opinion

29 September 2020

Read the article is Swedish

Manual processes still dominate in state authorities' workflow management. Increased digitalisation would increase efficiency, sustainability and legal certainty, write PA Consulting transformation experts Marie Amann and Erik Mossberg.

Digitalisation of workflow management is fundamental in enabling citizens and entrepreneurs to continue to access the state's services in a legally secure and trouble-free way. Case management is an extensive task in Swedish public administration with a large authority such as the Swedish Migration Board, handling up to 80,000 cases a year.

As citizens, we want to be able to sit on the couch at home and log in to the Swedish Tax Agency's app to declare our earnings. As entrepreneurs, we want to be able to log in to apply for permits and report information without the need for printouts and traditional mail. For this to be possible, efficient workflow management is a prerequisite.

In workflow management, manual processes still dominate, despite the fact that many believe that analogue technology is less legally secure than digital. According to legal researcher Roxana Matefi, for example, digital signatures are much more difficult to counterfeit than handwritten ones. Likewise, the lawyer Dr. Jon Kihlman, says that certain types of digital signatures should be the equivalent of a plastic ID card from the Swedish Tax Agency. The use of digital signatures in particular can improve workflow management in Swedish public administration across efficiency, sustainability and legal certainty.

BankID is today by far the largest e-identification system in Sweden and by 2020 it is estimated that approximately 8.5 million inhabitants will be using it. It is noteworthy that only around 8 percent of the total number of estimated logins and signatures with BankID in 2020 are estimated to be attributable to the public sector.

The European Eidas Regulation aims to harmonise the use of e-signatures between EU Member States and contains some formal requirements for different e-signatures. Unfortunately, there are no clear instructions for applying the Regulation to specific national activities.

Difficult-to-interpret legislation combined with a lack of collaboration and knowledge sharing between professional roles within authorities creates uncertainty, which all too often results in projects being given lower priority and a low rate of digitalisation. Added to that the pace of digitalisation between Swedish authorities is very uneven.

How can Sweden regain it former title as best in the world for public digital services and workflow management services?

1. Proactive development of public services in accordance with legislation
Start developing digital workflow management services that follow legislation that exists today but which also take into account the legislation that is around the corner. Single Digital Gateway, the do it Once-Only Principle and Electronic Freight Transport Information are some concrete examples. Sweden must become more proactive in its digitalisation strategy in order to meet the needs of state authorities and ultimately its citizens.

2. Increased collaboration and exchange of information between and within authorities
Start working more in agile teams where collaboration is created between and within state authorities and with the suppliers of digital solutions.

3. Dare to increase the use of technical solutions
Use available digital solutions such as digital signatures or digital archiving in workflow management with the aim of providing value-creating tasks for the administrator and increased legal certainty for the citizen.

Sweden is today considered a global leader in digitalisation. Let's make Sweden a leader when it comes to digitalising public services and workflow management services as well. Citizens and administrators must be able to connect in a problem-free and legally secure manner. We must not allow uncertainty about digital solutions to result in actions that jeopardise legal certainty and provide short-lived solutions.

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