Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities
Report: Putting clients centre stage in public services

Government Communications Department 14.9.2017 15.00
Press release 400/2017

Public services in all European countries are becoming more and more digitalised. Digital services make transactions quicker and are more easily accessible to clients. But at the same time it is important to ensure that services can be used equally flexibly digitally, in chat platforms, by phone and in face-to-face visits to service points. The successes and failures of other countries offer Finland lessons that could be utilised.

The ‘Public services – International comparison’ report shows that e-services in Finland have been developed and deployed to a level that is good relative to other EU countries. Of the comparison countries, especially Denmark and Sweden provide many useful examples that could be used to develop  digital services domestically. The experiences in developing digital services in Norway, Estonia and the Netherlands are also useful cases that Finland could utilise.

Client-oriented, cost-effective quality digital services

Based on international experiences, one common denominator in the best-operating services is that client-orientation has been at the core of development work. Well-designed and intuitive digital services also generate the savings that service providers are endeavouring to achieve in the public sector, because smooth web services are used more commonly and users require less support.

The eGovernment strategies in the EU countries are still centred around administration and focus on efficiency and cost savings. The further digital services have advanced, the more the client’s perspective has been incorporated into strategic-level planning. One difficulty in further developing public services as a whole is that none of the countries examined had an overall strategy that takes into account other service forms too, such as contacts by phone and visits to service points.

Equal opportunities for everyone to use public services

With the advances being made in digitalisation, it should be borne in mind that people must be given equal opportunities to use public services. At this point in time it means that people should be able to access services not only digitally but also by phone and by visiting service points. This is because some people are unable, for one reason or another, to use existing e-services. In the best case, people choose to use digital services because they are easy to use and operate smoothly, not because they are forced to do so.

Oxford Research, the University of Vaasa and the Rehabilitation Foundation examined, as part of the Citizens’ contact with public administration in Finland and five comparison countries project, the experiences in developing public services in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Estonia and the Netherlands. Similarities and differences in developing service strategies in the EU countries were also examined. In the course of the project, client and expert panels were organised where the points of view of different users were examined with a view to organising public services. A steering group headed by the Ministry of Finance served as a support organ for the study.

The study is part of the implementation of the 2017 Government plan for analysis, assessment and research. Further information about the Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities is available at

Public services – International comparison report (in Finnish)
Public services – International comparison, Policy Brief (in Finnish)

Inquiries: Arttu Vainio, CEO, Oxford Research Oy, tel. +358 40 734 2555, [email protected]