How to constantly develop and improve digital services

Not just talks and panels, at the upcoming 2023 e-Governance Conference. As always, we didn’t forget about the practical side of things – workshops. One of them will focus on the design of public digital services. Designing and re-imagining public services takes effort and knowledge, but it becomes less intimidating when expert show how much common sense actually goes into it.

Piret Saartee, Senior Expert on Smart Governance at eGA, joins us for today’s episode of the Digital Government Podcast, and is here to help. What makes for a good digital service? An introduction to the e-Governance Conference workshop, and things to know on the path to making citizens’ life easier in a digital society.

Public service development, from the inside out

The hands-on workshop on digital services will feature Piret Saartee together with colleague Kristi Kivilo to guide e-governance practitioners through what it takes to re-design public services effectively.

“This workshop aims to give an overview of the service development process. To identify what steps users go through, what are the key things to think about when designing a service, how this should look like in the future. Ultimately, to come up with a good digital service – which should be user-centric, data-driven, secure,” Saartee explains.

“We will outline and draw services, quite literally, and discuss what’s in it and what should be changed, with a real-life example. I will not reveal what the digital service in question will be, but I am sure it will be a good experience for everyone. So participants can then go back to their countries, and explain and support the necessary change of mindset at the base of service development.”

Good e-services exist – what are some examples?

In fact, rolling out effective digital services is not a solely Estonian prerogative. Yes, the path has been drawn long time ago in the country, but making citizens’ life easier and saving in administrative spending are goals that every government worldwide sets to reach.

Around the world, there are examples of good digital services. “Such as business registration in the Sultanate of Oman. After changing the process of service delivery, the country’s ranking in ease of doing business improved by 120 positions. When you log in, you can register your business very quickly, check the name of the company, get all necessary approvals online or automatically – without hassling with papers between different government entities,” Saartee says. “In Latvia and Lithuania, business registration also is very easy, or changing immovables in Georgia. These are all things that can be done quite easily and without too much hassle.”

“When it comes to retrieving information instead, and not just submitting applications, business registers do rank high up in the efficiency scale again. For example in Ukraine, where it is easy to get information about companies, check for eventual issues, and so on. A service I do use a lot myself too,” Saartee comments.

The place of common sense, change of mindset, and technology

When looking at service domains, governments tend to prioritize digitalization in population management, company registration, property, taxes. “Usually these ventures are accompanied by strong political will and financing. But on the other hand, an obstacle towards development is the way we are used to do things. Changes in mindset, in my opinion, are the most critical element to work on towards redesigning services effectively,” Saartee warns. 

“You have to understand why people don’t support a certain change. In Oman, for example, registering a company previously entailed up to five steps before even getting to turn to the registry. And each steps involved the payment of fees, which is why organizations opposed the proposed change. But it took weeks and weeks of meetings to understand that. And as soon as we did, the problem was solved within days. A dynamic that applies not just here, but in other cases as well.”

“Of course, every digital service needs key enablers, capacity, technology. But technology does come last, because first there has to be a proper business process in place.” A good e-service runs smoothly in the background when designed with common sense, answering citizens’ immediate needs and outlining the easiest way to get there. 

“Everyone is welcome to join the digital services workshop and see how digital public services should be developed. There is no need for technical background or detailed knowledge about a specific service. Because you only need a common sense. And we will help think of the things to take into account to do it the digital way,” Saartee concludes.

Interested in re-design public services effectively? Join Piret Saartee and Kristi Kivilo in the workshopDigital services – constantly developing and improving” at the e-Governance Conference on 31 May at 11:00 – 12:30! Register now at

And whether in person or online, join us to build better and inclusive digital societies, together.