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EXCLUSIVE! Supporting Businesses with Seamless Access to Singapore Government Services

OpenGov Asia acknowledges GovTech’s innovative and transformative utilisation of technology in the public sector. This encompasses streamlining government processes, prioritising citizens’ needs and pioneering the GoBusiness platform, which serves as the primary channel for businesses in Singapore to access government e-services and resources.

The platform is developed in collaboration with The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), and in consultation with over 500 business users spanning diverse industries to ensure that the functionalities and enhancements address real business challenges.

A Smart Nation Initiative and a Strategic National Project, GoBusiness, which provides businesses in Singapore with integrated, personalised and seamless access to business resources and services from the Singapore Government, exemplifies the Government’s commitment to simplify business interactions and foster a more conducive business environment in Singapore.

The platform provides businesses with a single, reliable and unified interface with the government throughout their journey, from inception to expansion. Businesses can make use of GoBusiness to access over 300 government e-services, obtain the latest information on business regulations and receive guidance on navigating regulatory processes.

Enhancing business regulatory processes

Simon Ang, Deputy Director of Product Management (GoBusiness) at GovTech in Singapore, speaks on how the development of GoBusiness was geared towards helping businesses in Singapore navigate regulatory processes.

“The initiative began with a pilot programme working with the Food & Beverage (F&B) industry, a tightly regulated sector where business owners are required to apply for multiple licences and permits from various government agencies,” Simon recalls. “Many businesses were not familiar with these regulatory requirements, and the process of obtaining the relevant permits and licences.”

To simplify licence applications for F&B businesses, GoBusiness Licensing was introduced in 2019. Following its initial success, the platform was quickly expanded to accommodate more industries and business requirements.

Today, GoBusiness supports businesses in Singapore in every stage of their business journey by offering a seamless and enterprise-centric experience in accessing government resources and digital services.

Overcoming key challenges

The success of the platform today came with its fair share of challenges. Consolidating and linking services from different government agencies was a key challenge, shares Simon. This required integration of numerous systems with different data definitions and API specifications. The team put in significant efforts to devise solutions, reengineer processes, and persuade internal stakeholders that the investment would be worthwhile.

“Another key challenge was prioritisation. With finite resources, the team needed to identify the key problems to tackle and assess the level of impact the solution will bring to the business community,” Simon elaborates. “COVID, for example, forced the team to rethink the product strategy and pivot from the original product roadmap to create services that meet businesses’ immediate needs.”

Offering businesses a reliable and secure digital tool

On average, GoBusiness records a daily average of 20,000 page views, and 300-400 transactions which typically include annual or one-time processes such as business registration, licence applications and renewals. These figures are expected to increase as the platform continues to expand its suite of services.

To support the platform’s long-term growth, the GoBusiness infrastructure was built with the ability to scale up or down based on the load, and it has proven to be capable of handling massive traffic spikes following announcements about business-related schemes or initiatives, such as COVID-related announcements, Budget 2023 and the launch of new business grants.

GoBusiness also uses the Green/Blue deployment strategy to minimise downtime and the risk of failure during deployment. Before any major release, the team performs load testing, source code reviews and security testing to ensure that the portal’s performance is not jeopardised. These are in accordance with the Singapore Government’s regulations.

“GoBusiness adheres strictly to the security standards put in place for all government systems. We also leverage SG Tech Stack to integrate with products like Myinfo for user data,” Simon confirms. “Information is collected and transmitted to other government agencies via encrypted and secure channels. To access their business information, transactions, and records, users are required to log in to GoBusiness with their Singpass.”

Supporting Singapore’s pro-enterprise environment

GoBusiness reduces the initial hurdle for aspiring entrepreneurs by offering them a single touchpoint to obtain reliable and up-to-date information on their intended business activity. By consolidating the relevant content and services of over thirty government agencies, it reduces the time and effort for businesses in researching multiple websites or sources.

The step-by-step guides and e-Advisers on the platform are self-service tools that businesses can use to obtain personalised guidance on navigating regulations and applying for government schemes and licences that are relevant to their business needs.

All in all, businesses in Singapore can easily navigate the process of starting, running and growing their businesses with the help of GoBusiness.

Simon shared that GoBusiness has been engaging business owners and administrative staff through user interviews and testing to optimise the portal’s design and development, and will continue to do so. “To date, we have connected with more than 500 businesses from a range of industries. We are continuing to conduct these sessions with businesses as GoBusiness is committed to evolving and expanding its suite of services.”

Moving forward, the GoBusiness team plans to take a more proactive approach to deliver relevant Government services and information to businesses in a timely fashion. This will involve developing capabilities for GoBusiness to push personalised recommendations to the businesses based on their business maturity and activities.

Additionally, three local small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) shared their experience on how GoBusiness has supported them in different stages of their business journey, including starting up, running and growing their enterprises.

Joel Lim, the Managing Director of ZYRUP Media, a digital media and creative house, felt that the GoBusiness website has a modern and clean interface with a minimalist design, and the information provided on the platform was useful for his business.

“We initially had a vague notion of how to start a business, but thanks to the clear steps outlined by GoBusiness, we were able to confidently register our company.”

Jeannie Ong, Founder of Envy Her Pte Ltd, the first lingerie manufacturer in Singapore shared that GoBusiness offers much more than just manpower and declaration-related matters.

“Instead of visiting several websites, I can seamlessly obtain most of the information from the website alone.”

Shawn Ow, Managing Director of Genesis One Tech Farm, a high-tech vertical indoor farm used the GoBusiness website manpower services, to gather information about taxes and GST and to review the various grants that were available for his company.

“The website is clean and easy to navigate. The information is detailed and laid out in an organised manner and the links to various government agencies are also easily accessible.”

About the team

Simon believes that having a shared vision and setting common goals are essential for the success of a platform like GoBusiness, which has the potential to go in many different directions. Prioritisation based on data and emerging needs is also necessary to keep the team on track.

The team, which includes representatives from SNDGO, MTI, and GovTech, holds weekly meetings to discuss issues and plans. There has been an open culture since the project’s inception, and over the last six years, a strong working relationship has been established.

The team’s ability to reach a consensus and resolve disagreements is attributed to their shared vision of providing better Government-to-Business services. Additionally, their execution is marked by agility and boldness, with a willingness to experiment with ideas.

“GoBusiness has a strongly coherent theme that runs through the product, and this is the outcome of effective team collaboration. The platform offers a coherent experience, and our best measurement is the level of satisfaction users have with the product,” Simon concludes.

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