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The Economy and Employment Department (SEE), a result of the merging of the Economy Department and the Arts & Employment Department, came into effect on June 1, 2015. It moved on a single site in October 2017, located in Delémont. A pioneering step but only a “first step”, according to the head of this new department Claude-Henri Schaller, who aims to digitize the processes and services offered, with an interactive online offer, in a pilot approach within the Jura cantonal administration. In the following interview, he reveals his action plan with the challenges that such a transformation represents, but also an optimistic vision shared by his entire team.
Alp ICT: What has been the impact of the merging of departments?
M. Schaller: This inclusion responds to a logic of work that is being put in place, in order to promote exchanges and consistency between the different sectors that make up the department. It makes it possible to directly call on the internal competences to process complex files and thus to be very reactive. For example, the employees of the economic promotion are aware of the missions and services of the ORP that they can assert in their contacts with the companies. The project managers of the economic promotion service are there to study the need of the “client” and to find adapted answers within the SEE or with other services of the administration ; for example if it concerns building permits, land use planning or taxation. Our department is therefore a gateway, a true and unique counter for citizens and businesses, which facilitates contact with specialists while ensuring follow-up.
Within the economic promotion service, the BaselArea.swiss Jura branch is made up of two employees who work for two days at the Basel center and are responsible for prospecting in French-speaking markets. In addition, here we have a workstation available for BaselArea.swiss employees who are seconded for a specific mission in the Jura. For a small canton like Jura, federating skills is a necessity and an ambition of our political authorities that has been realized since October. This change is a first step that allows us to think about other reorganizations. It is in this context that we would like to add the computer layer, by switching to a “paperless” management.
How are you going to implement this “paperless” management?
The transition to paperless management is the foundation on which the digital offer of the State services will ultimately rest. This is a first step that represents a change of culture and a redefinition of our work processes in depth. This involves setting up a strong CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) and organizing the flow of information per service, while respecting the laws and regulations that govern the activity of a public service.
Currently our IT department is working on the design and architecture of the system. Their proposals are going in the right direction. The introduction of CRM allows us to truly enter a customer-focused approach and to organize information accordingly. We still have many issues to settle, for example the choice of documents to scan or not, archiving, indexing, data flows, etc. but the Jura Economy and Employment Department is ready to play the leading role for the entire cantonal administration. We will not necessarily have the answers to everything, right away. But, as one of my colleagues said, better 80% right now than 100% ever!
At the same time, in order to prepare the online launch of our services, we must begin to describe and map our work processes, processes that must respect the legal and regulatory framework. We are planning a test phase with the launch of several services at the end of 2018. The test phase will allow us to evaluate the tool and to tame the method. I hope that my department will put online, by 2021, all of its services on the virtual counter of Jura. It’s ambitious, certainly, but not unrealistic.
We will obviously never be able to do without paper. We can still expect 10-15 years of coexistence between traditional paper and all digital. We must keep in mind the digital divide that still exists between citizens. A public administration must take this into account because it is at the service of all users and serves those who are not yet comfortable with computer equipment or the latest technologies.
What are the benefits of this future online service?
The technology currently developed by our IT department will allow users to perform most of our services on the Internet. For example, to make a request online or to print it, if the user does not have an account on the virtual counter. If he has an account on the virtual counter, he can follow the processing of his application, interactively, with a transparent processing time. I would also like him to give us feedback so that we can improve the quality of our services. Because it is not enough to be good: we must aim for excellence. And then, we will have the opportunity to identify the benefits that could be automated and thus enter the era of 4.0.
All the services now visible on our website should be virtualized. But to avoid unnecessary duplication, we will follow closely the work of the Confederation, which also virtualizes some services.
The operation of the department should also be more effective: digital tools create new collaborative dynamics between sectors that, in the past, sometimes worked in silos. Project teams will build themselves to answer specific problems. The hierarchical pyramids specific to public administrations should therefore be erased to give way to horizontal and transversal operations federating skills.
Does this change raise reluctance?
Changes within a public administration are never easy, because of the many legal and regulatory constraints to be respected. But I am very confident about the feasibility of this digital transformation. I am surrounded by a very competent team that is willing to move forward. They are aware that digitization is an important asset for a small canton like Jura and that it is closely related to the image we want to give to the public service and to this young canton. Moreover, these efforts are perfectly in tune with the legislative program of the Jura Government of which we have the support.
Internally, I do not feel any particular fear. The great challenge of the digital age is to inspire confidence. It is necessary to avoid a too complex architecture, unfriendly ergonomics, repetitive bugs or breakdowns. An inadequate or unreliable system will inevitably provoke distrust and resistance, both internally and among users. But I also know that it will inevitably go through phases of trial and error. This is why the change must be accompanied and closely monitored.
Our current era fits perfectly well to this change. Time is accelerating with ever-shorter time constraints, an ever-changing organization, depending on projects and issues. And we can not preach digital solutions to businesses without implementing them ourselves. It’s a question of logic and coherence.
We must also think seriously about information management and the division of responsibilities. I think in particular of the overload of emails that we receive every day, sometimes we do not know how to deal with. There is still no smart way to identify priorities or assign messages. Replacing e-mail with online tools such as virtual counters could be a way of structuring access to the service and formalizing the actions of citizens and their processing by the state. This is one of the tracks that I intend to explore!
Beginning of 2018: implementation of the paperless administration
End of 2018: test of 2 first online services “prototypes”
2021: online publication of all services on the virtual counter of Jura
Internet portal of administrative information: www.jura.ch
Multilingual internet portal Living in Jura: a territorial marketing tool, common to all the cantonal administration. The site of the economic promotion service is currently put in the colors of the logo “Jura the original”, in order to be attached to this platform.
The virtual counter: the official tool of interaction of the Republic and Canton of Jura, on which the services of the Economic and Employment Service will be added.
This article is published by courtesy of ALP ICT.