One-stop shop for companies: an ambitious idea that turns into chaos

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One-stop shop for companies: an ambitious idea that turns into chaos

The ambition was there: to create a one-stop shop for business formalities. The implementation is a completely different story, as highlighted by the report published in December by the Court of Auditors.

The desire to simplify has encountered obstacles. Yet she was justified. The reform wanted by the State consisted in simplifying the procedures for companies, which since 1981 were based on seven networks of business formalities centers (CFE).

A simplification that does not keep its promises

“The existence of these seven networks was a source of complexity and difficulties for both companies and administrations,” note the auditors of the Court of Auditors. The Pact law of 2019 was supposed to provide an answer to this through the creation of a single window.

However, such a reform proves from the outset complex to orchestrate “with a strong technical dimension and a systemic character”. Indeed, it required “upheavals”, in particular information systems and professional practices of users.

The initial complexity resulted from the launch on January 1, 2023 in “significant malfunctions” – which therefore justified a flash audit of the Court to establish precisely the conditions for the implementation of the project.

“Technical complications to carry out the formalities, non-adapted functional specificities of the portal, impossibility of validating its formalities, formalities not transmitted or even refused by the recipients, etc. This situation has severely penalized companies, especially since the user assistance device has proved insufficient”” the report lists.

An unrealistic initial deadline

Six months after the opening of the single window, the situation was still not stabilized, requiring the application of a rescue procedure – repeatedly extended. For the Court of Auditors, the roots of the problem go back to the very origins of the project with “an unrealistic initial deadline”.

Other recurring evils in large IT projects have piled up, starting with “inadequate governance and management”. For the Court, these modalities prove to be “very far from the standards in the matter.”And “it was only in the summer of 2023, much too late, that this initial deficit in collective operational structuring began to be corrected by integrating all the actors.”

The report already estimates that new malfunctions and serious anomalies are possible in January 2024. Companies could suffer next year and even later, he warns.

“The consequences of an insufficiently prepared and poorly conducted reform could therefore still be felt for several years without having brought the expected simplification to companies,” says the Court of Auditors.

The reform of electronic invoicing postponed

It draws two lessons from the chaos of the reform or two conditions “necessary for the success of a complex digital transformation project”: the conduct of an in-depth impact study and an adapted organization involving stakeholders from the outset.

The Court finally pins the refusal to question the implementation date provided for by law. She sees it as “an undoubtedly unreasonable risk-taking whose companies and state services have borne the serious consequences.”

The postponement this summer by the Ministry of Finance of the generalization of electronic invoicing perhaps suggests that this error has been taken into account. Also in this file, the State touts an ambition of simplification and modernization for the benefit of companies.

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