Beyond the Conventional: Designing a Customisable MSMEs Analytical Platform to Support Policy Making


Building upon efforts to provide enhanced support to MSMEs in Indonesia, Pulse Lab Jakarta (PLJ) developed a project last year in collaboration with Indonesia’s Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas) on MSMEs entitled “Strengthening MSMEs for Inclusive Growth.” This project aims to address the pressing need to understand the dynamic of MSMEs across the archipelago to inform evidence-based policymaking using a mixed methods approach, combining data and analytics in combination with service design.

We previously conducted “learning-by-doing” data dive events with Bappenas, where the team explored the potential of existing datasets, identified relevant data, assessed existing data gaps, and ascertained further capacity building and resource needs. The results concluded that the most suitable aggregate datasets to integrate into the platform is at the district level, and with these results in hand, the team proceeded with the next phase: developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

From MVP to Beta: Developing a flexible design to match dynamic user needs

The MVP essentially serves as a prototype for our initial interpretation of how the available data might answer policy questions obtained from user research and as guidance for the future direction of dashboard development. Getting from the first MVP to a beta version that’s ready for user testing involved a lengthy process of fine-tuning to adjust for users’ dynamic needs in the present and future. Through biweekly meetings with Bappenas, the dashboard’s main users, critical inputs were collected to better inform the platform’s initial design and several priority technical components were highlighted. Foremost was the need to develop a flexible system that accommodates the dynamic needs of policymakers and allows for the easy integration of new data and visualisation ideas without having to create a new platform, even with future changes.

The platform’s technical features can be simply broken down into three main components. At the basic level are the indispensable features such as quick search, filter and download. In addition to that, we wanted to highlight the added value of the available data by providing more advanced analysis through inbuilt template options for interactive visualisation. For example, one of the major decision-making processes at the national level requires obtaining data insights at hierarchical levels, such as from province or district. One of the platforms’ key technical features allows users to select and compare data across all districts in one province, or even between districts in different provinces.

Lastly, we constructed a flexible and fully customisable ‘knowledge hub’ on the platform where data in any form, including qualitative studies, can be incorporated. This component provides space for Bappenas to share all types of quantitative and qualitative studies, which enables them to look beyond conventional data and analyses and to tap into unconventional data and methods. Analysing and interpreting data requires considerable user initiative but by giving users room to explore the data, new or different ways of understanding and addressing certain issues can be revealed.

Next steps

Establishing this platform can be compared to the foundation of a home whereby MSMEs data, information and analysis can be housed. With the overall structure already created, refinements are continuously ongoing, and soon the platform will be ready for the finishing touches before being handed over. As part of this process, our team is conducting evaluative research to obtain final feedback while simultaneously identifying potential ways the platform can be integrated into the workflow of the Directorate of Cooperatives and MSMEs Development under Bappenas. From the research, a service blueprint will be created for the Directorate to properly assume ownership of the platform for independent operation and development in the future.

Authors: Faizal Thamrin (Data Innovation and Policy Lead), Rajius Idzalika (Data Scientist), Annissa Zahara (Data Engineer)

PLJ Project Team Members: Desi Vicianna (Government Partnership Coordinator), Faizal Thamrin (Data Innovation and Policy Lead), Rajius Idzalika (Data Scientist), Annissa Zahara (Data Engineer), Robbi Nugraha (Web Application Engineer), Muhammad Rheza (Full Stack Engineer), Angga Gumilar (Programme Assistant), Swastika Exodian (Multimedia Associate), Lia Purnamasari (Design Researcher), Rizqi Ashfina (Social Systems Researcher)

With editorial support from Andini Kamayana (Strategic Communications Consultant)

Photo credits: Pulse Lab Jakarta

Pulse Lab Jakarta is grateful for the generous support from the Government of Australia



UN Global Pulse Asia Pacific
United Nations Global Pulse Asia Pacific

UN Global Pulse Asia Pacific is a regional hub that aims to drive data innovation and sustainable development to ensure that no one is left behind.