Making it easier to start a business

Although public administration in the Nordic countries is often used as an example of advanced digitalisation, much work remains to be done before the processes are smooth in all respects. The degree of digitalisation may also vary considerably between different public authorities in the same country.

The Supreme Audit Institutions of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands conducted a joint parallel audit to find out whether the public sector processes related to starting a business have been digitalised effectively. The issue was examined from three perspectives: the customer orientation of the digital services provided to entrepreneurs, the public authorities’ internal work processes, and the cooperation between different authorities in the development of digital services.

All of the Nordic countries that took part in the parallel audit share the same goal: making it easier to start a business by means of digital services. Efficient and smooth processes benefit both entrepreneurs and the public sector.

In the summary of the audits, it was stated that there is a lot of information available in digital format for instance on websites targeted at entrepreneurs and companies. Regardless of this, it may still be difficult for a new entrepreneur to get a complete picture of the requirements set for business operations. The comprehensiveness of the available digital services may also vary considerably between different areas and municipalities. Although the case handling processes have been digitalised everywhere, they still include many manual steps.

Sometimes starting a business requires communications with several different authorities. If the process is to be simplified from the customer’s perspective, the key role is therefore played by cooperation between the different authorities. However, the audits identified several challenges related to cooperation, such as the ownership and funding of shared services and the steering of implementation. Different authorities should also share information more efficiently.

Links to the national audit reports published as part of the parallel audit:

National Audit Office of Finland: Digitalisaation hyödyntäminen yritystoiminnan käynnistämiseen liittyvissä viranomaisprosesseissa

Swedish National Audit Office: Enklare att starta företag – statliga insatser för en digital process (RiR 2019:14)

Office of the Auditor General of Norway: Undersøkelse av bruken av digitale løsninger ved etablering av restaurant