Enhanced Portal

Business Grants Portal is a website that brings government grants for businesses into one place, making it easier for business owners to apply for the grants they need. Such grants are normally on-boarded with multiple agencies and ministry’s requirements in view. Apart from application, applicants can also amend or submit claims for relevant grants in the portal.

The Story

From 1 Apr 2020, applicants of Enterprise Development Grant must commit to enhance their workers to qualify for grant support of up to 70%.

In addition, there will be 10% funding support for recognised unionised companies who can commit to certain clause by Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), whom they have to engage with prior to application.

The Goal

Hence, we have to factor in this requirement on both frontend and backend systems to determine if the applicant is unionised or not. We also need to enable the following workers outcomes (W.O):

  • Wage Increment (justification if not selected)

  • No. of skilled jobs created for Singaporeans

  • No. of jobs redesigned for Singaporeans

  • Training for better prospects


To provide additional 10% funding support to unionised applicants who can commit to:

  • form a Company Training Committee (CTC)

  • raise wages of low wage workers or mobilise workers for training (optional)


Discovery

We discussed with business stakeholders to discover about the requirements and users involved.

Who are the users?

As BGP is unable to detect if applicants are unionised or not, e2i's system will determine its' type once it pairs with the portal. Hence, the following type of applicants are classified as such:

  • Non-Unionised: Only have to select at least one of the W.Os

  • Unionised (Type 1): Engaged with e2i on W.Os, commits to form CTC for extra 10% support

  • Unionised (Type 2): Engaged with e2i on W.Os, does not want to commit to form CTC

Requirements

  • Applicant User Type: To inform unionised applicants (Type 1/2) whom have engaged with e2i of their status and those whom have yet to engage with e2i that they would need to get endorsement with e2i to proceed with application

  • Proof of Engagement with e2i: To display of unionised applicant’s engagement with e2i and selected outcomes such as forming a CTC (mandatory), impact on low waged workers and sending of X amount of workers for training

  • Workers' Outcome: To include the 4 workers outcomes for all applicants to select at least one of the following:

  1. Wage Increment (mandatory to justify if not selected)

  2. No. of skilled jobs created for Singaporeans

  3. No. of jobs redesigned for Singaporeans

  4. Training of workers for better prospects

Definition

As we clarified with agency and ministry on these requirements, we defined potential root problems that might surface, which stem from the type of applicants.

Synthesis

As we classified the type of applicants, we considered a scenario where unionised applicants has yet to engage with e2i. However, there might be unionised applicants who are not recognised in e2i’s system and this in turn created another 2 user types, making it 5 in total:


    • Non-Unionised: Only have to select at least one of the W.Os

    • Unionised (Type 1): Recognised in system, engaged with e2i to get endorsement, commits to form CTC for extra 10% support

    • Unionised (Type 2): Recognised in system, engaged with e2i to get endorsement, does not want to commit to form CTC

    • Unionised (Type 3): Recognised in system, yet to engage with e2i

    • Unionised (Self-Declared): Not recognised in system



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We then laid every existing page of the application to identify potential problems.

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We drilled down the details to such that:

  • Applicants are not aware on whether are they unionised or non-unionised

  • Unionised applicants are not informed of their statuses on whether have they gotten endorsement from e2i to proceed with application

  • Applicants might think they are unionised but BGP does not reflect

  • Non-unionised applicants might consider to be unionised

The Process

As we firmed up on the problem statements, we assessed and ideated on how we identify opportunities so we could incorporate them into the grant application form.

Unionised or Non-Unionised?

The Eligibility page is the first step during application where there should be an indication of what the user needs to know.


As we are suggested to include a question for applicants to state if they are unionised or non-unionised, we replicate the existing radio button component to standardise with the existing questions.

We envision on the scenarios for each type of users:

  • Non-unionised: enabled (will select No, preferable <desirable>)

  • Self-declare unionised (or wants to be unionised): enabled (will select Yes, probably <highly likely>)

  • Unionised (sans e2i engagement): disabled (Yes, since recognised by system, plausible <possible>)

  • Unionised Type 1 (70% + 10%): disabled (Yes, since recognised by system)

  • Unionised Type 2 (70%): disabled (Yes, since recognised by system)

Upon evaluation, having a disabled radio button doesn’t feel right and having come across this article by nngroup, it summarises by saying:


"A default selection is helpful and makes a suggestion in a positive way."


This brought us back to the users where we got to keep to neutral as the “yes” and “no” options suggest that you are either unionised or non-unionised.

User Interface for Checkbox

We sought to implement the checkbox component since standard web practices encourage disabled (but checked) checkbox if they are not applicable in the current state. Though we wanted to implement a disabled-but-checked checkbox, there was no existing interface for it. Hence, we had to redesign the entire interface for the checkbox, ranging from states of checked to unchecked to checked but disabled.


Putting my HTML/CSS skills in use, the first step to redesign the checkbox would be adapting to the existing codebase as a change in that would break the coding architecture. Apart from that, choosing the colours was another criteria to ensure that it passes the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standard.

Display of e2i Endorsement (Part I)

We moved on to assess the form to see how could we indicate to the unionised applicant that they are have been endorsed by e2i for application. Initially, the endorsement was proposed to be included in the Proposal page, However, we need to consider the user’s location as it would take 3 pages for unionised applicants to realise the status of the endorsement.

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Hence, we utilised an existing component in the form of a notification banner that appears in the Eligibility page to help increase its status visibility and inform applicants instantly. We catered for two scenarios:

  • Yet To Engage (In Blue) – Self-declared unionised – Unionised (sans e2i engagement)

  • Engaged And Endorsed (In Green) – Unionised Type 1 (70% + 10%) – Unionised Type 2 (70%)

Apart from the banner is the display of the Proof of Engagement with e2i section for unionised applicants (Type 1, 70% + 10%), which will be covered later as the decision to split this section from the endorsement status was due to the differences between these two information.

Project Title

Moving back to Proposal, we learned that for unionised applicants, the Project Title field should be solely based on what they discussed with e2i. As such was the case, we tweaked this feature for the following types of applicants:

  • Non-unionised: free text field

  • Self-declare unionised: select field (no project)

  • Unionised (sans e2i engagement): select field (no project)

  • Unionised Type 1 (70% + 10%): select field (with project)

  • Unionised Type 2 (70%): select field (with project)


The mechanism is such that once the type-of-user checkbox is selected, it would trigger a select component in the “Project Title” field to indicate that applicant has engaged with e2i for discussion.

Workers' Outcome

As previously mentioned, the 4 workers outcome that would be included are:

  • Wage Increment

  • No. of skilled jobs created for Singaporeans

  • No. of jobs redesigned for Singaporeans

  • Training for better prospects


Similarly, for unionised applicants, the selection of workers outcome should be based on what was discussed with e2i. Furthermore, values based on discussion cannot be amended during application phase.

Since information based on discussion with e2i cannot be amended during application phase, we will be catering this scenario for the following applicants:

  • Unionised Type 1 (70% + 10%)

  • Unionised Type 2 (70%)


That would trigger a disable function for the workers outcome section, just as how it was done for the user type checkbox on Eligibility page.

To trigger the disable function (in Workers Outcome), it would require the type-of-user checkbox (in Eligibility page) to be checked. Hence, we would have to cater a scenario for the following applicants:

  • Self-declare unionised

  • Unionised (sans e2i engagement)


where fields in Workers Outcomes would be disabled so as to prevent them from keying values so we can maintain the same behaviour for unionised applicants.

There was one minor change however, as we wondered the intention for having a free-text field in the "Preceding FY" column. As this is relatively new, the intent is to populate the amount when "Last FY" is filled. With this, we removed the field and added a dynamic read-only text when there’s value in "Last FY".

We also added a description to elaborate on inputting wage information for the two fields.

Display of e2i Endorsement (Part II)

Coming back to the Proof of Engagement with e2i section for unionised applicants (Type 1), stakeholders wanted it to be displayed in the Proposal page. Due to concerns that this comes in place before the Workers Outcome section, we proposed to shift it to the declaration section since its content is similar to the questions in Declare & Review.


However, we realised that Declare & Review page is 2 pages after Business Impact where Workers Outcome is. Ultimately, we decided to shift to the last part of the Business Impact page since the commitments pertain to the Workers Outcomes.

Usability Testing

We moved on to usability test with applicants who have applied for the Enterprise Development Grant before. The goal is to assess areas of improvement and recommendations via scenarios with the latest wireframes. We would screen candidates based on the industry they are in, the last time they logged into the portal, their role in the portal, the grant they applied for and if they had employed someone to apply on behalf so we can have a fair share of diverse participants for the test.

Context

Here’s a rundown of the UT participants:


  • 5x EDG applicants

  • All were grant preparers, some were also acceptors

  • All have direct contact with an Account Manager from Enterprise Singapore

  • All are non-unionised companies

  • A mix of job titles, gender, and industries were represented

Getting Help on BGP

  • 1x had his consultant sit beside him to guide him through the grant application process

  • 3x would approach their account manager from ESG with help on form filling or extending deadlines for resubmission as "human help is still the best"

  • 1x thought there was no helpline on BGP until told otherwise

Process of Getting A Grant

  • Most applicants took between 2 to 6 months to prepare for submission i.e. discussion with consultant and preparation of documentation

  • 2x said it was confusing as they didn’t know when to use BGP or ESGP and kept logging in to the wrong portal

  • Applicants took an average of 2-3 hours to fill in the EDG application on BGP with complete information on hand

Application Process

  • 3x understood that they had to commit to workers outcomes to get up to 70% funding for EDG

  • 1x thought workers outcomes was a grant on its own and that it was the "wrong door" to apply for EDG while another thought she would receive funding for committing to workers outcomes

Perception of Workers Outcome

  • The perception was generally negative, although 4 out of 5 said it would not affect their decision to apply for EDG

  • 1x would rush to apply for EDG before workers outcomes are included from April 2020 as the construction industry is down and her "enterprise is also struggling"

  • 2x felt that training workers for better prospects would lead to workers looking for other jobs while 1x wondered if training was immediately equivalent to better prospects

Choices of Workers Outcome

  • 4x would choose wage increment as their workers outcomes and of these, 2x would give "minimal increments"

  • "Minimal increments" range from $50 per worker per year up to a 5% year on year increase

Preparation of Workers Outcome

  • 4x gave a range of 1 week to 1 month for their bosses, HR and finance teams to decide on the commitments

  • 1x said it would take him seconds to decide which workers outcome to commit to (Wage Increment)

Outcome

Upon assessing each session, we made some decision on the wireframes:

  • Add the commitment to the 4 workers outcomes in bullet point form for things to prepare for submission


Most participants focused on the bullet points of things they need to prepare for the application instead of reading the paragraph on committing to workers outcomes.

Hide “reason for not selecting wage increment” once Wage increment is selected for the following:


  • 3 out of 5 participants correctly understood why "reason for not selecting wage increment" was greyed out when wage increment was selected

  • 1x was confused as to "why (reason for not selecting wage increment was) greyed out" but understood after thinking through

  • 1x felt confused and misunderstood that the "reason for not selecting wage increment" was shown due to wage increment being selected


Though 3x would prefer that the checkbox be in a radio button format for consistency with the Eligibility section, the checkbox format did not affect all 5 participants’ understanding of it so no action was required.

Future

Apart from application, the agency also opted to move both its project amendment and claim applications from ESG Portal to BGP so applicants can perform application related tasks within one portal.