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Information flows in the social development grant process: a user experience perspective
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This study focuses on information flows in the social grant process from a user experience perspective. The study was conducted with the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), which is responsible for the administration and distribution of social grants to underprivileged citizens. Social grants help poor citizens to attain equitable income on a monthly basis. Grants play an increasingly important role in reducing poverty and inequality in South Africa, but are also subject to challenges like dependency, mismanagement and corruption. Information flow within SASSA is essential for the coordination of the grant process. The success of administering any social grant process depends largely on efficient communication practices and stable information technology. Communication among grant users requires the transfer of relevant information from its point of inception to the next point(s) of use. Government departments are transposing their paper-based systems into digital systems, which pose new implications for grant administration, however. Accordingly, the use of electronic services in government should mean faster information flow and, thus, more effective service delivery. The literature reveals, however, that non-technical aspects like user experience (UX) are essential in designing meaningful e-government systems. With a focus on user experience, this study uncovers the problems that SASSA and grant users face in the grant process and works toward possible solutions to resolve these problems. This research lays an important foundation in terms of gaining a better understanding of information flows, e-government, and user experiences in the grant process. This research is exploratory in nature and adopts a qualitative interpretivist approach. To gain a deeper understanding of the perspectives and experiences of grant users, the researcher employed the „Institutionalise User Experience in Government‟ (IUXG) methodology. The study targeted individuals that had knowledge of the social grants. A purposive sampling technique was used to select the research participants. Furthermore, the researcher adopted a thematic analysis method to code and analyse data. The findings of this study revealed the centrality of user experience in the grant process, notably in terms of the many challenges associated with information flow. The findings also revealed that factors such as social grant awareness, availability and use of information technology, digital divide, and grant accessibility bring enormous impact on grant processes and service delivery. The study contributes a landscape model for depicting the information flows in processing grants, and develops a broader understanding of how technology can help users to better disburse, access, and utilise grants. The study also informs e- government practitioners about the design and implementation of user-centred design with emphasis on information flows. Key Words: Information flows, social grants, e-government, and user experience.
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