A new digital platform to help New Zealand’s small businesses access services from multiple government agencies has launched.
Business Connect will receive $7.1 million over two years as part of the 2019 budget, which prioritises supporting productive businesses so they can thrive in the digital age.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the platform will enable businesses and government agencies to “work together smarter” by making services more business-centric across all levels of government.
“Our objective is to integrate access to multiple services through a single digital platform, and cut out repetitive paperwork,” she said
“Business Connect will allow small businesses to interact seamlessly via a single portal. In time it will streamline the way central and local government services can be applied for, managed and tracked.”
The NZ Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) estimates potential benefits worth $300 million per annum through reduced time and effort in compliance administration, faster processing of applications, less scope for errors, and increased business productivity.
The pilot platform will be available from October and will initially trial services from the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, and the NZ Customs Service, Ardern said.
“The pilot agencies will allow the platform to be tested in a real world environment directly with businesses. Other central and local government agencies will gradually come on board over two years.”
Public services can sometimes be difficult to navigate for businesses. The new platform aims to address this, according to Minister for Small Business, Stuart Nash.
“Some small operators say it takes more time than it should to deal with paperwork. They say they often have to repeat the same information and feel there could be better coordination across government. We have heard their appeals and are responding,” he said.
Through the platform, businesses will eventually be able to apply for permits, licences and consents, without having to repeat information and documentation.
“Business Connect will allow a business to log on to a customised dashboard. They can update their information in one place and share that information across multiple agencies. They will be able to track the status of their applications and be notified online of approvals and renewals,” Nash said.
“Central and local government agencies that join Business Connect will be able to follow common templates and rules in order to design and deliver more integrated digital services. Some smaller local councils in particular will find this a very attractive and easy system to be part of.
“New Zealand consistently ranks number one as the easiest country to do business. But there is still progress to be made. The Business Connect platform transforms government services from manual and paper-based, to more joined up and business-centric.”
Businesses can get a head start by registering for a NZ Business Number, which will pre-populate their details on the platform. Other tools to support business planning are available here.
Datacom was selected by MBIE and participating agencies to build the cloud-based platform. It will use Pega System software, which uses low-code modular case management applications.