Friday, February 24, 2012

Simplify Online Processes

This letter was sent to the Straits Times on 1 February but was not accepted for publication.


Many government agencies have implemented online process for the public and business entities to submit their requests  and compliance returns to the agency.

These online processes can impose a heavy time burden on the public, for the following reasons:

1. The websites of the agencies are complicated. It can take a long time for the  public to be familiar with the webpages, links and options. Reading the FAQs  can also be a headache, due to the complicated processes. 

2. Some online forms require a specific type of browser to be used. If another browser is used, the results can be unpredictable.

3. Some processes require many steps and ask for information that are not available at the point of data entry. It is easy to miss a step and have the  process aborted.

4. If there is a weak internet connection or the server is busy, the online  process can be suspended. 

5. The public usually needs to call the helpline for clarification and wait a long time for the call to be answered. 

It is ironic that the online processes, which are supposed to improve national productivity, produce the unintended consequence of increasing business cost. By saving of a few minutes of data entry time of its own staff, the government  agency requires the administrative staff of the business entity to spend much more time to make an online submission.

I have personally experienced the online process of various government agencies,  and can attest to the hours that have to be spent by me and my staff to submit a  simple request or return. 

I suggest that our government agency allow the public to submit their requests and compliance returns by faxing the completed manual forms to the agency. It will actually save time for the agency to get its staff to do the data entry, rather than spend the time to guide the public to do the  same work. It can save hours of the time of the public.

Tan Kin Lian
Tan Kin Lian & Associates Pte Ltd

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