All the surveys say that the Swiss have confidence in their administration.

However, the coronavirus health crisis has highlighted gaps or shortcomings. In a short time it has become clear that the digital transformation of the public sector is not optimal.

The public service in this area seems to be lagging a little behind, while the public itself has already changed its behaviour. Social networking, online shopping and the immediacy provided by the internet on smartphones and tablets increase the desire to have administrative tasks completed as quickly as a message on Twitter.

Without going that far, we are still far from the “cyber-government” dreamed of by some. Let us not see in this term a frightening intrusive society but rather the possibility of carrying out a maximum of dematerialized procedures. Even if some of our fellow citizens are a little ‘out there’ in the digital world, the vast majority expect the administration to make a thorough digital transformation.

Obviously, one cannot compare the federal administration with the private sector, which appears to be much more flexible, and which has been able to cope, quite easily for some, with the health crisis by deploying teleworking and digital document exchange.

However, in the meantime, at federal, cantonal and municipal level, essential steps could not be taken because of access restrictions or taxpayers’ fear of being in a public place. Fortunately, most of the time, the exchange of supporting documents could be done through the postal network. But in the age of the Internet, the image of the Swiss administration’s services has taken a hit…

This lack of digital transformation is also evident internally. Large parts of the administration were not ready to move to telework.

Moreover, exchanges between administrations and federal structures are often long and problematic. There is, of course, a lack of resources or adapted software, but above all there are legal gaps that can accompany this transversality towards greater efficiency. At present, for example, digital identity is lacking, making it impossible to sign administrative documents online.

Similarly, the lack of internal digitalisation affects the management itself. In the private sector, digital technology brings a different way of looking at the company, a new way of managing that takes into account the different sectors. However, at cantonal and even communal level, exchanges between services are not very fluid. This leads both to an overload of work for the administrative staff and an unpleasant wait for individuals.

Obviously, there are many obstacles to optimised digitalisation in public organisations. There is an obvious lack of hardware, the obsolescence of some software, and a possible lack of computer literacy and training.

If we add to this the complexity of certain administrative procedures and, above all, the dematerialisation of these procedures, we can better understand the annoyance of Swiss taxpayers and the difficulties that the employees themselves have in carrying out their tasks.

While everything was working pretty well, the problems caused by the health crisis exposed these shortcomings. For example, we realised that the transition to teleworking is simply impossible in some departments, notably due to a lack of resources.

Of course, this negative picture should not obscure the fact that some sectors are doing rather well, such as at the communal or school level in some cantons.

However, it is clear that Swiss administrations must face up to the obligation to change their paradigm and rapidly integrate digital at all levels.

On the face of it, it seems easy to manage digital transformation on a technical level, by equipping staff with the latest IT tools. However, this comes at a cost. In the private sector, digital optimisation always involves the smooth integration of new dematerialised work tools. The famous integrated management or customer journey analysis software is a good example, but the change also involves the dematerialisation of all documents.

At the administrative level, it seems logical to move towards completely dematerialised and simplified processes and procedures. Swiss citizens will benefit from faster exchanges, as will federal employees. What can be observed in Swiss companies is that digitalisation also reduces the compartmentalisation of the various internal departments and initiates effective transversal management.

It also helps to optimise and facilitate the tasks of the employees at the same time. The digitisation of documents and the automation of their processing save a lot of time but also make work more comfortable.

It should be noted that more and more documents can be downloaded from the websites of municipalities, cantons or various administrations. That IT facilitates all administrative processes and that the cantons and municipalities are real leaders in digitalisation.

However, there are still relatively few opportunities to make declarations or fill in documents online.

All these anomalies and obstacles can be easily solved, not by imitating the private sector but by adapting them to the reality of public sector processes and needs.

Because, at the end of the day, this is what we experience every day: digitalisation brings adaptation, extreme customisation, the possibility of infinitely shaping powerful tools.

In short, the digital revolution that seems to be working so well in the business world is finding its way into organisations working for the common good.