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Digitization doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking

The Valais municipality of Salgesch has been almost completely digitized for over three years. The effort required for this process was kept in proportion at all times. Municipal Clerk Stefan Schmidt, who was responsible for the digitization project, describes the resources needed for the transformation.

The “Myni Gmeind” survey on digitization 2024 shows that sufficient human and financial resources are key requirements for municipalities when it comes to digital transformation. At the same time, municipalities are unsure whether they have precisely these resources at their disposal. This seems to be holding them back from digitization: 59 percent describe themselves as “digital laggards” in the study. 


Efficient administration, satisfied citizens 

However, e-government does not have to be a massive undertaking, as the example of Salgesch shows. “We managed the switch to digital processes with relatively little effort,” says Municipal Clerk Stefan Schmidt. For three years now, the administration of the Valais village (population: around 1,700) has been almost completely digitized.  


In concrete terms, this means that physical mail is scanned, and e-mails are converted into PDFs. Further processing and archiving is handled on a purely digital basis. The accounts payable workflow is also paperless. Citizen services have also been digitized – the inhabitants of Salgesch have access to an online counter, where they can apply for a residence certificate, report a move away or provide notification of a change of address. The municipality also processes these requests digitally. Long waiting times to gain access to the necessary documents from the archive officer are a thing of the past, as are countless folders full of paper. “All in all, we are more efficient, and our citizens are more satisfied with our services,” says Schmidt. 


Das ganze Team in der Gemeinde packt die digitale Transformation an.  

E-government express 

But what specific resources did Salgesch need for the digital transformation? Stefan Schmidt lists the factors involved in the project:  


  • The time factor: the digitization project lasted a year. “That’s very fast for such a fundamental change,” says Schmidt. Employees were trained in the use of the new digital tools individually on a daily basis, lasting a week in total. 


  • The human factor: Salgesch implemented the digital transformation with its existing six employees. “They were all motivated and open to new ideas right from the start,” says Schmidt, citing the most important requirement for digitization. During the implementation, the municipal clerk built on the knowledge of each individual person. Nevertheless, he still needed external expertise. “It was clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to tackle digitization until there was a municipality of similar size that had already done the same.” He found what he was looking for in the municipality of Leuk – and had a proactive discussion with the project managers there. “I was also in contact with the Upper Valais Regional and Economic Center and our IT manager. For example, I was able to discuss with both of them which information security solutions would make sense for the municipality of Salgesch.”  


  • The technology factor: the new software solution is from the company Dialog Verwaltungs-Data AG, an e-government specialist by Swiss Post. “The tools included in the software package, such as the accounting tool, help to structure work processes, offer centralized and organized filing and enable regulation of access rights. This increases data security,” explains Schmidt. In addition to the software, the municipality of Salgesch also hired a new printer that made the scanned PDF documents searchable and therefore useful for archiving.  


  • The financial factor: the digitization cost Salgesch around 80,000 francs. “We did very well,” says Schmidt. “That relatively low financial outlay was possible only because the software package came from a single source – so we didn’t have any problems with interfaces.” In addition, the administration at the municipality of Salgesch was already well equipped in terms of hardware infrastructure (PCs, screens, cables).




How cultural change can be brought about in your municipality

Sufficient personnel are required in order for digitization to succeed. However, they must also be motivated and open to new ideas. That’s how cultural change can be brought about in your municipality. Download 
now eight tips that will help you in that:





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