Gewerbe-Online - an online platform for all business license matters
City of Vienna, Municipal Department 63

The Problem

Before launching Gewerbe-Online customers were tied to opening times of the competent authorities to gather information or to submit an application. The procedures were done on paper. This caused costs and time – not only for the applicants but also for the competent authorities because procedure times thereby increased.

Apart from the causation of costs this approach was no longer up to date with the requirements of a modern and customer-oriented administration system. The offer of e-government services was also a dedicated request of the citizens.

Hence, the main target group of the Gewerbe-Online project consists in (future) business owners and entrepreneurs in commerce, trade and industry. The target group thus comprises two major subgroups:

1. individuals who have not run a business so far
2. individuals who are actively running one or several businesses

As for the first subgroup, it can primarily benefit from Gewerbe-Online by using electronic communication for all steps involved in registering a new business license. The second subgroup can profit from the full e-government service range for so-called status modifications, i.e. whenever they need to modify the details of their current business license status – for example when appointing a new managing director in accordance with trade law, transferring the business to a new location, suspending or revoking a business license. In all these cases, the entire official process can be handled electronically – even including electronic delivery of the final documents (e.g. an administrative order, official notification, or current excerpt from the business register).

The Vienna Economic Chamber also benefits from the project, though it is not part of the main target group. After all, the Gewerbe-Online front page is integrated with the Chamber's "First-Start-Shop” for new business registrations.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The solution was to develop a complete and consecutive e-government platform that provides citizens and business owners with all public authority contacts and tasks required in the field of trade and business – from submitting a request or application to receiving the final document from the public authority.

The platform Gewerbe-online ( is designed to reduce both costs and time, e.g. travel time to official appointments. The website includes comprehensive information on all types of applications and procedures (e.g. on prerequisites and documents required), but also the necessary online forms. Every citizen or business owner can directly start an administrative procedure by completing the corresponding online form(s) and uploading the required document(s).
The entries are saved and transferred to the city's electronic document management system (ELAK) then. The final document can be delivered electronically. In brief, the communication cycle is fully electronic, without media discontinuity; it starts and ends with the applicant, i.e. the individual citizen or business owner.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The solution was proposed by City of Vienna, Municipal Department 63 – department for commerce and trade and was implemented by this department in close cooperation with Municipal Department 14 – department for automation-assisted data processing, information and communication technology.

Stakeholders in this matter are – as mentioned above under 1) – (future) business owners and entrepreneurs in commerce, trade and industry on the one hand and the Vienna Economic Chamber on the other hand.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
Gewerbe-Online is part of Vienna's New Public Management Strategy for administrative modernisation and development of the city administration into a customer-oriented service enterprise. The key objectives include developing a citizen-friendly, output-oriented solution and increasing customer satisfaction. The objectives are to be attained by providing a system that allows for all administrative steps involved in obtaining or modifying a business license to be performed electronically. Furthermore, the Gewerbe-Online project speeds up administrative processes and boosts administrative efficiency by increasing the take-up rate of online services, especially when it comes to license status modifications, while at the same time decreasing the costs, e.g. by encouraging users to take advantage of the electronic document delivery option.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The implementation comprised creating and maintaining the website as the central website for administrative requirements regarding business and trade and linking it with the electronic document management system ELAK. The website includes comprehensive information on all types of applications and procedures (e.g. on prerequisites and documents required), but also the necessary online forms. Every citizen or business owner can directly start an administrative procedure by completing the corresponding online form(s) and uploading the required document(s). There is no need for personal registration or authentication.

The public authority transfers the data from the document server to the technical information system. The data is then fed into the ELAK system via an interface. In case the applicant needs to submit additional documents, this can be done by e-mail as well. Electronic applications can thus be transferred directly to ELAK and handled electronically, avoiding any media discontinuity during the process. If the acquittal involves administrative fees, the City of Vienna e-payment programme (e-Bezahlen) is invoked via an interface, and the fees payable by the applicant are entered.

Every magisterial document receives an official electronic signature, so the addressee can check the document has been dispatched by the competent authority and there have been no unauthorised alterations. As a next step, the dual document delivery function is activated, and the document to be delivered is handed to an external service provider. Based on a fully automatic mail management process, a central folder is used to check whether the receiver has already registered with an electronic delivery service, in which case this service is selected to deliver the document electronically. If electronic delivery is not possible, the document is automatically printed, enveloped and delivered by conventional mail. To receive recorded items (i.e. documents requiring an official advice of receipt, known in Austria as "RSa" and "RSb") in electronic form, the receiver needs a digital signature. Documents sent by electronic mail can then be collected from the electronic delivery service at any time of the day. The advice of receipt is equally signed electronically, e.g. via mobile phone. The signed advice of receipt (in electronic form or paper form) is subsequently forwarded to the ELAK system.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
It turned out that electronic delivery could not be maxed out completely since many citizens are not registered in an electronic delivery service. Therefore advertising effort on promoting electronic delivery was intensified.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The Gewerbe-Online platform is based on previous systems that have been integrated and expanded to include all administrative steps regarding business and trade – throughout Vienna. This process required about 1,000 person hours altogether.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Most of the online forms were created with a standard tool used by the City of Vienna. The electronic document management functions are available throughout the city administration because the ELAK document management system is shared by all administrative departments. ELAK also provides an electronic signature and dual document delivery solution for the entire city administration. As a result, it is very easy to transfer large parts of the project to other administrative areas equally using ELAK.
No other integrated solution is currently known to provide the same degree of integration. Gewerbe-Online is an ICT-assisted platform that covers each and every administrative process regarding business licenses. Citizens and business owners are now free to submit applications and communicate with the public authority on matters of business and trade administration anywhere, be it from their office or at home, and at any time of the day, irrespective of official office hours.

The practical implementation of Gewerbe-Online is in line with the principle of multi-channel communication. To provide a viable e-government solution, access is enabled via Internet and e-mail. The system precludes any form of media discontinuity or unnecessary duplication of work. There are no separate systems handling service functions, features and utilities for clients (e.g. applicants) and public authority staff. Another pioneering aspect consists in the cross-sectoral cooperation with the Vienna Economic Chamber. Given that the data of prospective business owners is already captured by the Chamber's start-up service, synergies have been created and fully exploited by providing an interface to Gewerbe-Online.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The key objectives of Gewerbe-Online include providing a citizen-friendly, output-oriented solution and increasing customer satisfaction, as well as boosting administrative efficiency and speeding up administrative processes by increasing the take-up rate of e-government services, especially when it comes to modifying a valid business licence. A continuous increase in user numbers proves that the objectives are achieved. For instance, in the field of new business start-ups, about 50% of all applications for a business license are entered online by now. What is more, over 50% of all respondents in a recent representative survey stated that the e-government service had saved them more than 45 minutes; 26% even estimated that it was 61 minutes.

Also customer satisfaction with the Gewerbe-Online platform is very high in general. The online forms have been assessed as easily understandable; the system is regarded as user-friendly and the online administrative processes are smooth, which is reflected by an average rating of 1.69 for the above aspects on a 1-5 scale (where 1 stands for "highly satisfied").

Furthermore introducing Gewerbe-Online has led to a significant increase in output (in terms of cases and applications handled) without requiring additional staff.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   City of Vienna, Municipal Department 63
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Wolfgang Magesacher
Title:   Mag. LL.M.  
Telephone/ Fax:   +43 1 4000/97111 / +43 1 4000/97115
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Wipplingerstrasse 6-8
Postal Code:   A-1010
City:   Vienna
Country:   Austria

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