The program of Red.es Digital Kit for the digitization of SMEs and freelancers in our country is beginning to become a bureaucratic ball where there are already more victims than beneficiaries. It all started in March, when the first companies that could provide digital solutions to small entrepreneurs began to be approved, the so-called Digitizing Agents. The operation of the program was designed so that the end customer requested a voucher of up to 12,000 euros, but that it was the digitizing agent who justify and charge before the Administration.
All this would be done in sections according to the number of workers, so that the first and second sections (the largest companies) they would have already been able to request their bonus, Today. The smallest segment (between one and two workers) would be missing. According to the latest data from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism corresponding to June 2022, in Spain there are 2,935,000 SMEs, and around 100,000 bonds (source: Red.es).
It is certainly a great avalanche of information and a tremendous workload. It seems that the Administration had already warned that they would pay two months after the work justification was verified. But some Digitizing Agents, who already sent the receipts in June, still have not received; others still do not receive validation three months later.
As he tells us exclusively, Tono Mestre, founding partner of the consultancy Innóvate 4.0 and collaborator at Fandit, Red.es already warned that the payment was not immediate. The consultant expects the first payments to begin in October, which would already be late.
«The issue of the difference between the implementation of solutions and the effective collection of said works is one of the headaches of the Digitizing Agents». «Companies are used to charging even before doing the work, you also have to understand that they have expenses and people to support and cannot afford to go four or five months without getting paid.
Foreseeing the problem, Mestre tells us that Red.es would have signed agreements with banks to create ICO financing lines in this regard and advance the bond money. From MuyPymes we have tried to find out more details by contacting Red.es but, so far, they have not responded. Therefore, although it seems that the agreement is already signed, it is the ICO that has to sign with the banks, but nobody knows for sure if more agreements are necessary or «if the ones they already have in operation for the rest of the lines are useful».
In any case, the problem with this is that not only such lines are nowhere to be foundbut many companies are reluctant to sign a credit of these characteristics. “At least it is a solution to be able to face the bills more quickly, until the bond money arrives,” Mestre comments.
Although the Administration has already warned that this «it was not sew and sing» and companies are also aware of the volume of work, it is clear that there are several bottlenecks. Taking into account Tono Mestre’s experience in this type of management, he believes that there could be a certain blockage in the validation of justifications, corresponding to the Chambers of Commerce. The latter is a “black hole” for which the procedure and waiting times are unknown. However, it is a critical step for companies to start charging, since many justifications are backed down by details ranging from the most complex to details, such as using a different format when sending documents.
The encouragement of Digitizing Agents: «It’s like being in limbo.”
From MuyPymes we have spoken with some of the Digitizing Agents to know their perception of a project that, a priori, seemed very exciting, but for which results have not yet been seen. So from Flxa365.com, its CEO describes as «inefficiency» the aid process. This SME, which is a provider of Microsoft cloud solutions, has told us that they have months waiting for the validation of the justifications. «The clients have requested the vouchers and we have already carried out the work».
«We’ll get paid one day«, they say resigned and recognizing that the bureaucracy of the program is very cumbersome, but the worst thing is not knowing when you are going to get paid. «The best thing would have been to give direct aid to clients and for them to contract the services, although logically they would later have to justify it.«. With regard to ICO aid, they were surprised by the news, since no one told them “He has reported nothing.”
On the other hand, sources of JAN TelecomDigitizer Agent specialized in data transmission, voice and security tell us that the feeling among approved companies is that all this is a «uneasiness‘ and they seem to be in some sort of ‘limbo«. Your particular situation is also validation wait of their offers, in which considering an ICO loan seems «bread for today and hunger for tomorrow».
During this long wait, certain rumors are heard in the gossips of IT companies that the money could already be invested in “great Digitizing Agents”. «So the SMEs that are signed up are not going to see the benefit of this aid either”. In the end, “much expectation has been generated and It has generated a lot of effort for us to have no return ».
On the same line are EuskoData, Digitizing agent of software and technological solutions for all types of companies, the sensations are similar. In this case, they did receive the validation of a bonus in June and still waiting for payment. In addition, they do not plan to request an ICO loan, precisely because of the complaints of many entrepreneurs about obtaining the money through this channel as well. «At the moment, it does not give us enough confidence«; however, from this Basque SME they indicate that «We do not think it is bad that these loans be streamlined, since they are very necessary, but they must be agile in time and simplify the processing. If not, they hinder its effectiveness».
Like so many other ICT businesses, Euskodata welcomed the Digital Kit program with enthusiasm«It was presented as a good opportunity to generate business for the digitizing agent, but the technical requirements of some of the items do not make much sense, so there are projects that the client wants to tackle that do not fit into any of the items. And they have taken too long to publish, to respond to requests, with a corresponding delay in the start of projects.
«In addition, there is not enough information to help us guide some customer operations. Too much administrative and financial burden also falls on the digitizing agents, who in the end have to dedicate an extra effort to the justification and many times without being able to pass it on. This is without counting on the requirements of having a website, necessarily, where a series of requirements and the entire structure are collected, which has meant a very important cost and that finally we do not know if we are going to recover it«.
Anything else optimists there are the companies that have begun their journey in the second segment, that is, at the beginning of September. It is the case of Kipmion Technology, partner of NFONwho believes that for them it is «soon to have a global vision. The application process for the Digital Kit on Red.es it’s easy and it works fine«. They also think that the ICO solution is interesting. «It is always good to be able to have financing at a reasonable cost. (…) If we finally had to manage a certain amount of bonds, there would be no choice but to go to the ICO».
Finally, Discom, which is also a partner of NFONhas not received any payment either, although they understand «it is still early with validations of the beginning of summer«. They also see a good idea for ICO loans to be enabled. «The solvent company must have lungs for that and much more».