Significant efficiency gains for Denmark’s public sector

31 July 2013 | Halvor Walla, Strategy Director, Software Innovation

As Norway and Sweden embark on the task of defining the initiatives in their digital agenda, Denmark is reaping significant efficiency gains as a result of its digitization strategy. The Danish Parliament (Folketinget) has digitized all parliamentary processes and achieved a 75% reduction in the use of paper, which has yielded substantial savings.

Denmark as a development laboratory

Danish public services are at the international forefront when it comes to the digitization of work processes and citizen communication, including Copenhagen municipality and the Danish Parliament. Both are described as leaders in practical digitization. At the core of their operations is Software Innovation’s application for document and case management, Public 360°, a vital platform and tool in the digitization process.

Software Innovation has collaborated with the Danish public sector for a number of years to develop innovative applications for digital case management. The work with Danish clients demonstrates the value of the Norwegian and Swedish governments. A lot can be learned from Denmark, especially how public sector organizations can achieve significant efficiency gains.

Entirely digital mail by 2015

The Danish government’s digitization initiative is particularly exciting, especially the implementation of communal components such as Electronic ID (eID), citizen portal, and digital mailbox. In this field Denmark is a few years ahead of Norway, which is working towards defining similar initiatives. Denmark has now set definite deadlines for digitization, including switching to digital mail for citizen communications by 2015.

Through projects at public organizations like Region Zealand, the Department for Research and Higher Education, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, and the Competition and Consumer Protection Agency, we have gained unique experience and competence in developing standardized applications where the use of different digital components is central. Applications using eID, digital signature, and digital mail have been particularly useful, producing efficiency gains while complying with administrative regulations. Digitization does not have to result in a weakening of important laws designed to maintain good management practices. 

Criteria for success

Denmark is expected to experience an estimated savings of 3 billion Danish kroner in the public sector over the next three years. The contrast with Norway is clear. Only 6% of Norwegian public sector organizations have a comprehensive benefits realization strategy, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, including benefits realization managers.

By 2015, 80% of Danish citizens will have transferred to digital communication with the municipality. Thomas Jacobsen, the Director of Citizen Services for the municipality of Copenhagen, has stressed the importance of deadlines in making progress. Today, 70% of citizens in Copenhagen use electronic services. The breakthrough came when they decided to use the same ID systems as the banks.

In addition to this, Jacobsen says it is important to select standardized options, rather than developing customized applications, as this allows for greater flexibility and cost efficiency.

The Digital Parliament

The Danish government manages over 100,000 documents and meets for over 1200 hours per year. They have digitized and gathered all governmental core processes in Public 360° – including file and case management, meeting and committee management, contact information, and digital distribution of documents. This is all integrated with other relevant specialist applications.

This has allowed them to reduce the use of paper by 75%. Four fulltime equivalents (FTEs), who previously handled, filed, and distributed paper documents, now work on exciting new projects linked to the Parliament’s digitization process, such as voting systems and TV transmissions. 

Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let us know @Microsoft_Gov. Or e-mail us at ongovernment@microsoft.com.

Halvor Walla
Strategy Director, Software Innovation