I had a difficult time in filing my GST return. I had to go through the IRAS spiderweb (a new term introduced to me by a commenter in my blog) that involved a few dozen clicks before one comes to the correct webpage. I could not find the webpage to submit my return, even with the guidance of an IRAS helpline officer. She could not find the webpage also, after guiding me on two attempts.
I was able to access the webpage later in the day, through the help of the another more experienced officer in IRAS. The most probable reason for the earlier failure was that the form was not yet activated earlier. Why is there a need to "hide" a blank form, i.e. to submit the GST return, through complicated structure of access security?
This type of spiderweb is not unique to IRAS. It applies to big organisations, such as banks and most government departments and agencies - such as LTA, CPF.
I wish to give some simple tips for these big corporations, which need a complicated website to serve many purposes and that need more than 100 forms.
a) Have 1 tab called FAQs. This should drop down a list of all the FAQs needed to guide your staff and customers in the work of your organisation. Each FAQ is identified by a number and description for easy asess, such as "GST23: Filing a GST return" or "IR8A: Filing your personal income tax".
b) The forms that are required to complete any task can be linked to the relevant FAQ. A click on the FAQ will display the form.There is no need to ask the customer to log in (which is another big hassle. Just give them the relevant form to fill in.
c) The form (including the particulars of the person who prepared it) can then be stored in the server with the SingPass of the person who is required to sign the form. This allows a staff or outsourced accountant to prepare the form and for another person, e.g. the director, to sign the form.
d) This signing person can log in with the SingPass and locate all the forms that require his signature. This is similar to the real world. The director has someone to do the work and presents the physical form at his desk for signature. The director does NOT type the entries in his form or search the filing cabinets to get the form.
I hope that these suggestions will be useful for big organisations to make it easy for their customers, including unwilling customers such as taxpayers, to access their website easily and conveniently.
Tan Kin Lian
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