Design jamming at the CRA – improving the SR&ED experience

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) recently started holding "design jams", which are workshops with clients that aim to improve services and support taxpayers who seek to comply. The design jams involve various topics that were selected from proposals submitted by CRA employees across the Agency, as well as the Taxpayer Ombudsman.

During the design jams, participants from various backgrounds answer questions such as – what do clients need?; what difficulties do they face?; and how we can make their experience better? Participants come together to build solutions that will then be tested to see how they work, or don't work, for the people who will be using them. Based on testing, the solutions will be refined, and retested as needed.

One design jam recently focused on the Agency's Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) Program. The SR&ED Program encourages Canadian businesses of all sizes, and in all industries, to conduct research and development that may lead to scientific and technological advancements, which would contribute to Canada's innovation economy.

The SR&ED design jam focused on making the Program easier to use, and more predictable for people and companies who file claims. There were 18 participants, including business representatives, tax professionals and SR&ED employees, all working together to come up with ideas and solutions.

"This design jam was a great success, resulting in solid ideas that will go a long way in improving the SR&ED Program," said Ted Gallivan, Assistant Commissioner for Compliance Programs, including the SR&ED Tax Incentive Program. "I was so impressed with the level of collaboration and goodwill in the room. I look forward to seeing solutions from the SR&ED design jam implemented in the coming years."

During the workshop, the participants worked in teams on five activities that were designed to elicit ideas to make the SR&ED Program easier to use. They came up with four solutions, including developing an Online SR&ED Community Portal, introducing a new way of gathering information for SR&ED projects, updated custom questions for different industry sectors, and a new tool that would provide claimants with immediate feedback on the status of their projects.

The design jam "was light, upbeat, friendly and a great environment to discuss areas for improvement," said one participant.

"The CRA is listening to Canadians, changing how it works and improving the services it offers," said Mireille Laroche, Chief Service Officer for the CRA. "Canadians have spoken and they want better service. We are consulting them to better understand their service needs and expectations. These design jams are just one step in helping us better understand what we need to do to make their experiences better".

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