Simplifying tax declaration
Jacob is a good friend of mine, he works hard through the week and designs software for a living. I remember in March last year and seeing him run from pillar to post looking for a lot of documentation. Basically it was proof declaration time for taxation and Jacob was having a hard time making last minute investments, looking for documents signed over a year ago and compiling it all for his accounts guy at the office.
Jacob’s account supervisor Sridhar wasn’t having a great time either. March is when his team would spend a lot of time following up with folks like Jacob for their documents and then spending a lot more time counselling them, or sorting their documentation.
This got us thinking, what will it take for Jacob to be more aware of this process, see the advantages of timely tax filing. Moreover what does it mean for Sridhar and team to focus on what they are good at and avoid menial tasks.
When we stared out this was to be a simple UI refresh, based on some areas of work we had identified. However on digging deeper, speaking to more users and understanding who the user personas were we realized the following:
- While a UI fix viscerally made this easier to the eyes, it didnt solve the actual problem
- Users had to spend too much time on a system which did not understand them, their needs, their desires
- Users had to spend too much time on things like documentation, sorting which they did not need to do
- The system captured rich data but did not make this meaningful to the user
Getting our hands dirty
To tackle this problem we proposed the following and ran a few user validations
- Showing Jacob a breakup of his investment, savings and possible savings. This was existing information and previous years information we already stored on the system
- Allowing Jacob to quickly declare an investment, take a photo, add a value and done!
- Real time data to Sridhar, allowing him to resume a role as a consultant. The current tax declaration structure is twice a year. In December where one declares investments, and in March where he confirms the same with a proof. We questioned this stereotype and suggested an open system which allowed anytime declaration with or without proofs. This has a couple of advantages
- Folks like Jacob will actively invest and spend time on the system as they see their savings grow and the value of their investments
- Because they do this proactively Sridhar’s team must follow up less and get the proofs they need at the right time of the year
- An immense amount of paper work is completely removed from the entire process
- Sridhar’s team can spend more time consulting instead of clerical work
While the solution flew well in our validations we havent moved mountains yet 🙂 Jacob and Sridhar still loose a lot of hair and sleep during March. We understand radically changing a system takes courage and time, but we also feel duty bound to question at a larger level.
As designers should we take a brief at face value, do as we are told because it fits a plan, timeline or schedule specially in this short for time enterprise world. Or can we proactively question and push ourselves to look for areas of opportunity ?