Digitisation thanks to standards

The degree of digitalisation of data and the flow of information between organisational units is increasing year by year. This is especially true in public administration. One consequence of this is that business administration processes are being revised and completely converted to paperless. However, standards are necessary so that different software applications can communicate with each other. This is the only way to achieve complete digitalisation. The development due to digitalisation brings great changes with it. Administrations are therefore also forced to deal with this topic and ask themselves the following questions: Why should my organisation digitise completely? What requirements must be fulfilled so that digitisation can take place in my organisation? Is complete digitisation even possible? Can employees be expected to do their work completely digitally?

Prerequisites for a comprehensive digital transformation

In order to establish communication without media discontinuity, the existing processes in a company and the associated organisation must be known. It is important that all processes within and outside an organisation are taken into account, for example, in the case of a municipality, electronic access to files for municipal councillors, the review of planning applications by external experts or cross-municipality projects such as the construction of a school building.

Cloud-based business management software

The digital transformation of an organisation in general and a municipality in particular is accelerated enormously by cloud-based software. Electronic record keeping allows authority members access anytime, anywhere – regardless of location or device. One example is the “eGeko” solution from the company Ategra AG, with which municipalities can map both simple and complex processes with external participants in a completely digitalised way. Important external parties also become registered users of the business management solution. Every authorised person can access ongoing projects, view the project status and, where necessary, contribute to the progress of the project. Other external parties are integrated via eCH interfaces. What does this mean in concrete terms?

Processes are simplified

One example is the electronic processing of building applications. From 2020, a new cantonal building application software is to be introduced in the Canton of Zurich (eBaugesucheZH). For this to be possible, data must be exchanged between the municipalities and the cantonal administration. The graphic on the following page shows how this is possible even in a complex subject area with diverse participants. In addition to the workflow solution, eCH standards are an essential basis so that the data can be exchanged: The dossier interface for the standardised exchange of electronic dossiers and documents between eGovernment applications in accordance with standard eCH-0147, as well as the description of the data and messages that are exchanged in the context of electronic planning application procedures between the planning application platforms and the responsible authority or the responsible specialist offices (standard eCH-0211).

Software yes – but please keep it simple

Any company can set up communication without media discontinuity. What does it need to do this? Easy-to-use software that makes this possible and can communicate using eCH standards. Why should it be easy to use? Not every future user is an “IT freak”. Municipalities in particular cannot expect their elected officials to use software that requires a lot of explanation. The software must adapt to the possibilities of the future users and offer an interface that is easy to learn. In addition, everyone should be able to use their own infrastructure – after all, many members of the authorities work with their own device.


Complete digitisation is not (yet) required by law, but it brings clear advantages: easier search for documents, higher transparency, integration of external parties into procedures and more efficient processes. Its most important prerequisite is the standardisation of interfaces, formats and data.

About the eCH association

eCH develops standards in the area of eGovernment. For efficient digital cooperation between public authorities, companies and private individuals. eCH builds on the cooperation of private and public partners. Specialist groups ensure that the standards are developed with high quality and free of individual interests.

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AUTHOR: Daniel Breitenmoser

Daniel Breitenmoser is a local councillor and eGeKo project manager at the eCH association.

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