Integrated Knowledge-Based System (CRM)
Muscat Municipality

The Problem

Muscat Municipality (MM) is the provider of essential services to 775,878 citizens and residents of Muscat Governorate which is also the capital of the Sultanate Oman. The services render by the Municipality includes construction permit, rent contract, municipality license, building permits, parking permission and violations and the other municipal services. With such a dense population distributed over a vast area, provision of quality services to the community is a constant challenge. Good Knowledge management of the various services provided in a diverse environment is critical for the continued success of the Municipality as a service-oriented organization.
Before the implementation of an integrated knowledge-based system, the explicit and tacit knowledge resided mainly in the people (staff) and in manual documentations. Overtime retrieval of such knowledge become cumbersome as staff turnover is unavoidable due to promotion, attrition and resignation. Manual documentations, overtime, becomes a labyrinth of archaic papers, few has the tenacity to retrieve or refer to them. Tacit knowledge based on numerous years of experience remained with the staff and is lost when the staff left the organization. The following encapsulates the problems faced by MM addressing the need for an integrated knowledge-based system.
1. Silos System
MM had traditionally been using in-house developed applications for most of their business needs; these applications were originally designed to handle mere data capture functions across various diverse business groups. These systems were not tightly integrated and did not cater to the evolving workflow requirements and service delivery capability required for civic customers and other stakeholders in the arena. Over time, it led to rampant data fragmentation across various independent and isolated applications, across the organization. This resulted in unwieldy pain and expensive application support and incumbent maintenance issues.
2. Manual processes for permit approval took between 2 to 4 months
Customers who wish to obtain various permits such as building, construction, etc must submit the application personally at the Municipality’s office. They then had to wait between 2 to 4 months (depends on the application type) to have their application processed and approved. Moreover retrieval of information was very tedious as all documents were managed manually which included architectural drawings, engineering plans and structural diagrams, etc. Mistakes in documentations due to missing documents, delayed permits, led to numerous complaints and inefficiencies.
3. Duplication of work by other departments
As applications were transferred manually to other related departments, more delays were caused. Each department would also need to re-enter the details of the application as the systems were not talking to each other, creating lots of duplication work.
4. Lack of knowledge sharing and retention
Since most application and processes were developed independently, information were not shared with other departments, hence customers had to repeat the process all over again for the next department. As the silos systems were merely used for data capture, no formal knowledge management lifecycle was utilised.
Without an integrated knowledge-based system, MM was merely provided essential services to the customers without meeting the needs of the customers and improving the customers’ satisfaction and service experiences. Unfortunately with the advent of social media and rapid customisation of internet applications, the citizens and residents of Muscat are demanding more meaningful interactions with their service providers and secured transactions anytime, anywhere. MM being a service oriented organisation cannot afford to remain laidback and let the wave of changes swept right through.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
Through the integrated knowledge-based system, MM is able to provide the municipal services such Building Permits, Parking Permission and Violations, etc. MM becomes the pioneer organizations in the Oman to provide electronic services from Government to Citizen (eParking Services), Government to Business (eBuilding Permit) and Government to Government (Customer Relationship Management (CRM)system for the management of municipality services)
The integrated knowledge-based system is provides a 360-degree view of citizens through a well-integrated CRM implementation in order to provide efficient, effective and prompt municipal services to the citizens and residents. The customer-centric business process is the core of the knowledge-based system, the revolutionary approach in a traditionally conventional business environment is key in the success of the system. With the implementation of the knowledge-based system, there is a shift in manual paper-based operations to automated – integrated – paperless process-based operations. This has resulted in considerable reduction of cycle time for each service request. It has reduced parking and healthcare inspection times by 60% as a result of the ability to transmit results directly from the field through Mobile devices over GPRS/Edge/3G networks. There is a considerable citizen time savings in applying services application, request follow-ups and status inquiries by implementing on-line citizen portal. It also integrated the revenue management system which ensured avoidance of manual calculation and data entry errors for charges calculation, penalty calculation and payment receipts. With the electronic payment services through multiple payment channels (Cash, Cheque, electronic payment cards and online payment), it ensures citizens convenience for Muscat Municipality payments.
For example the time required to get building permits approval used to take 2-4 months, with the knowledge-based system, it takes only between 2-4 days. Other applications such as municipality license and parking permission take few minutes to be completed instead of 1-2 days. In addition, a customer simply needs to approach Muscat Municipality for services using their Civil ID for citizens and Commercial Registration for organizations, Muscat Municipality employee be able to retrieve all the applications and service requests which had been applied for.
Muscat Municipality today provides fully automated service to Pay processes and has removed all manual calculations and workings. It allows customers to initiate their requests through the Web and created an online interactive community using Oracle iSupport. The system is also enabled with existing IVR and SMS systems using custom developed technology. Employees are also empowered to conduct field work remotely using mobile devices, IPads, Tabs and various other mobile applications, which is a tremendous business benefit. The System currently handles more than 25,000 service requests every month for various citizen services.
The integrated system embodied the knowledge management principles critical to the sustenance of MM electronic services such as using accessible knowledge from outside sources such as stakeholders, customers, clients, etc, for example through the use of web-based portal, users experiences and comments can be recorded and retrieved to improve the system further. This includes embedding and string knowledge in business processes, products and services so that MM staff are able to review history and information expeditiously and accurately. Transferring and sharing knowledge throughout the organization; with shared databases and information system, sharing of knowledge is seamlessly done such as in the case of the eBuilding Permit in which the Engineers and Architects can concurrently work on the review of the drawings. This saves precious time for the users and shortened the application time.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The system was proposed by the Muscat Municipality through its effort in adopting Information Technology to streamline its operations and processes especially in its provision of services to the companies, other ministries organizations and the citizens. In addition, there is a need to integrate the tacit and explicit knowledge residing elsewhere within the organization and within the staff experiences so that it could be tapped and channeled to provide efficient and effective services. This can only be done through an IT-based system which formed the backbone of the system. In addition,
There was a need to work with a partner of trust and competence, who could best understand the business need, translate that into a technology solution of proven capability and have the experience and competency to deliver on a tight timeline of demonstrable results. This was the genesis of a customer seeking an Oracle ERP/CRM solution from a partner of Imtac’s pedigree. Imtac LLC is the Oracle partner of implementation for Muscat Municipality
Muscat Municipality appointed IMTAC to implement Oracle CRM solution in Muscat Municipality. The project team members have been selected from Muscat Municipality and Imtac for this project. Mr. Salim Al-Kalbani (Senior Project Specialiste in Information Systems Directorate in Muscat Municipality) was the project manager.
During the implementation of the project, there were many meetings and workshops which have been done with the system users to get their feedback about the system in each stage. Project team members made sure that they have met users’ requirements, as they are serving Muscat Municipality customers. Moreover, Muscat Municipality has taken into its consideration to involve the citizen within the project because they are using the system as well through the e-services within Muscat Municipality website. Therefore in some applications like building permits application, Muscat Municipality has conducted workshops for the consultants’ offices to get their requirements and feedback to provide them with a better service using e-services.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The main driving factor of this project is the need to improve overall customer satisfaction through better customer services by effectively reducing process time and cost. In addition, the internal driving factor is the need to standardize and share information throughout the organization through a common platform. Based on previous experiences and taking into account impact of new system release for both end users and customers, it was decided by the project team that the implementation will be rolled-out in phased manner. The roll-out was not based on Product module but based on complete end to end CRM service cycle. Since knowledge management is a huge buzz word which could confuse the internal stakeholders and staff, it is implied in the users’ specifications and the development of business cases for the system development. The strategy deployed are done in the following stages;
1. Focus on roll-out of CRM service with complete end – to – end process mapping. Roll-out was planned not product module specific but citizen service centric.
2. Ensure proper end user involvement in requirements study, Conference Room Pilot (CRP – workshop), User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and Training.
3. Ensure dedicated hand holding at ‘Go-Live’ for each service at all locations of Muscat Municipality, so as to avoid customer inconvenience during application transition phase

Muscat Municipality has established automated process for Rent Contracts Management, Building Construction Permits Management, Property Address Management, Parking Permission and Violations Management, Healthcare and Technical Inspections, Municipality License Management, and Revenue Management applications.
In addition, MM knowledge-based CRM system is one first full fledge eServices providing the G2C e-Services interaction to the citizens and residents of Muscat for; querying about rent contracts, building and construction permits, companies’ registration, checking parking violations and payment of parking violations online, -issue and renew parking permission online and searching for shops or any commercial activity through the website

The knowledge-based system in B2G and G2G communication with businesses and the other government entities within the Sultanate of Oman such as; Tendering processes which provide convenience services for businesses to receive updates on available tenders and track the status of submitted tenders easily and linkage to the official e-Government Services portal ( for other e e-Services provided by these entities.

The unique adaptability demonstrated here is first in the middle-east and showcases the ability of the Muscat Municipality to be a pioneer in the provision of such services in the booming gulf societies and e-governance initiatives.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
Muscat Municipality implemented the knowledge-based CRM project in March 2006 and completed the project by March 2008. It was a huge project as it consisted of many applications, each application were divided into stages within the project. For each stage they have applied project management process groups initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. This approach is normally used by information systems Directorate in Muscat Municipality for all their projects.
2005 – Feasibility studies were conducted to draw the user and technical specifications, meeting and evaluation of the various product and KM systems that were available. Decided to go with Oracle CRM as there is product sustainable and good track record in this field.
2006 – Tendering processes and awarded the project to IMTAC. Development of the knowledge-based CRM commenced.
The knowledge-based CRM system was officially launched in March 2008. Muscat Municipality is also very proud to achieve the first successful implementation of Oracle CRM services in a government sector in Middle East as stated in Oracle Snapshot [Oracle 2008] and Oracle website.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
During the implementation of Muscat Municipality CRM system, there were many obstacles, but they have been handled in a professional manner.
1. Multiple processes in different locations
For example, in the user requirements gathering stage, there were difficulties in unifying the procedures of the services among the five different customer service centers in different locations among Muscat. Many meetings and workshops have been done with the users from all service centers to reach to the best solution. The knowledge-based CRM system has successfully changed many working procedures that have enhanced the level of customer service in Muscat Municipality. The project had strong executive management support including that of Chairman of Muscat Municipality. As a result Muscat Municipality has established a comprehensive software program that has connected all departments at different locations within Muscat and provides “Single Source of Truth” for all customer details and hence achieving a complete 360-degree view of citizens through a well-integrated customer relationship management implementation.

2. Non IT-savvy users
Another obstacle was non-IT savvy users, as some of them were working manually (paper) during the legacy systems. To handle this situation, Muscat Municipality conducted internal basic course on computer usage. IT department also provided these users with the latest computers and printers to encourage them to use the new system. As human nature, people always have resistance to change; therefore some users had this resistance to change from legacy system. Muscat Municipality Project team conducted meetings with the users and their managers to explain them about the benefits and advantages of the new system thus ensuring their co-operation. In addition, during go-live activity, there was at least one member from technical team in each customer service centers for at least two weeks to follow up with the users, help them and direct them to use the new system. This strategy provided users with that extra confidence in using the new system.

3. Integration of knowledge management principles
Another key challenge is integrating knowledge management into the corporate culture in MM. Knowledge management requires knowledge sharing and sharing of knowledge can only happens if the employees co-operate and trust each other. Hence, by capturing knowledge and information through a systematic process approach, it could then be retrieved, processed and acted upon in the provision of quality services. For example, if a customer who applied for building permit through the eBuilding Permit System had a history of violation of the building code based on the shared information system, the staff processing the application could revisit the case, retrieved the historical records online and review the application carefully. Similarly, if a potential landowner had not made due payments of the municipality fees, their applications could be reviewed and postponed until such payments have been addressed. Hence, through capturing best practices embodied in the CRM system, the sharing of information and knowledge becomes part of the organization culture which facilitates knowledge management in MM. In addition a centralised customer-relationship service enables MM to capture, store, process and retrieved knowledge for the provision of quality services.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
1) Financial cost of the system

MM invested initially about US$509,600 with an annual maintenance of US$169,000 and annual Oracle license renewal of US$49,400.

2) Technical Architecture
Based on the business need, a technology solution of proven capability and the experience and competency to deliver on a tight timeline of demonstrable results was sought. Muscat Municipality decided to develop the knowledge-based solution using Oracle Business Suite in a full cycle engagement which included pre-project consulting, on project business process reengineering, implementation and customizations, training and knowledge transfer, data migration and integration of applications, support and maintenance services.
The knowledge-based CRM system deployed 6 Blade Servers, 2 for application and 2 for database, 1 for testing and development and the other I-Support server for online applications. Another server for mobile application server. Database is integrated to the SMS gateway server and IVR system. In addition, the knowledge-based CRM system is integrated with the national ePayment gateway for online payment and the system is linked to Bank Muscat for card transaction.
The project team could demonstrate the skills and the resources available to implement this unique solution. They had the ability to understand and propose a solution encompassing the Municipality’s existing application and data fragmentation problems. They could demonstrate a proven change management and knowledge transfer strategy that would be able to bring to Muscat Municipality the business benefits sought and own the application and its future manifestations.

3) Human Resource cost

Internal Team – 2 Database Administrators, 3 Developers, 2 resources for eServices and a team for the Helpdesk services which provide technical support for all MM IT services

Outsources team – Functional Consultant, Technical consultant, Java Developer and Database Administrator

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
Corporate Sustainability

The knowledge-based CRM system incorporates corporate sustainability which enables MM to develop the skills, approaches and tools needed to better integrate with the key business objectives, and the manner in which the change management can be done to achieve the organization’s vision. This is achieved through customization and adoption of international best practice to suit the future needs. Moreover, it is easy to change any business process through the workflow engine. At the same time, the project built the capacity and capability of the Muscat Municipality technical development team. This strategy achieved corporate sustainability by developing the skills and competencies essential to ensure project sustainability.

Political Sustainability

Political sustainability cannot be achieved without participation from various stakeholders. Therefore, in the initial stage of project, many meetings were held with various stakeholders to achieve political sustainability and secured their buy-in. From top management to the key users and customers, they were involved in the process re-engineering of municipal services. Feedback and suggestions were seek from the stakeholders to improve the processes. The participation of all stakeholders enable Muscat Municipality to build a unify solution with a clear business process and workflow for all services in an integrated manner which enables the project to be politically sustainable for the future.

Economic Sustainability

A clear economic benefit is derived from this project as it unifies all the fees structure across all customer service centers in Muscat by automating the service processes and fees calculations. The system resulted in more building permit related services being process which leads to increase in revenue for the MM. With the increased in revenue, this initiative is financially viable and self-sustain.

Usability and revision Sustainability

Muscat Municipality knowledge-based CRM system is sustainable and transferable to other municipalities and councils as long as they have the same municipal services. New services can easily be added into the system to adapt to the organizational requirements. Dhofar Municipality (Dhofar Governorate is one of the regions in Oman) is planning to deploy the Muscat Municipality knowledge-based CRM solution to their municipality after they have seen the benefits and advantages of the solution. Therefore, the knowledge-based CRM project achieved usability and revision sustainability. In addition, due to the shared nature of the system, all the Municipalities would be able to share knowledge and information through shared services. Hence, improving the users’ interactions and experiences.

Ecological Sustainability

The successful usage and deployment of the knowledge-based CRM system empowers the MM staff to provide quality services to the customers. The system enables the customers to communicate, interact and transact with the MM without having to be physically present in the MM offices. In this manner, the MM eServices reach out to all citizens and residents of Muscat Governorate anywhere, anytime and through various applications including mobile devices. It removed the bureaucratic red-tape and tones of paper work associated with government services and most importantly the system is user-friendly, accessible to all, affordable, adapted to local needs, sustainable for future progress and has a positive impact on the environment leading to ecological sustainability.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
1. Financial Impact

Before the implementation of the knowledge-based solution, MM annual revenue was around US$46.8 million. After implementation, MM annual revenue obtained from the various services raised to about US$91 million which about 94% increased. This is attributed to improve quality services, and the convenience of online payment leading to better revenue collection

2. Increased in number of services

Before the implementation of the knowledge-based solution, MM was only able to provide 13,000 services per month but today MM can provide 25,000 services per month. This is a more than 90% increased in productivity.

3. International Accolade

This implementation of a knowledge-based Customer Relationship Management System based on customer-centric model, is a unique achievement for all stakeholders, Muscat Municipality, the users and the Government. It signified successful deployment of the Oracle E-Business Suite, the first in the Middle East. In addition, through best practices internal processes are streamlined and sharing of information and knowledge becomes a daily ritual. It showcases the ability of the Muscat Municipality a leader in the provision of eServices and eGovernment initiatives encapsulating knowledge management in action.

Some of the major factors for success in this project were;
1. Clear vision and objectives provided by the Executive Management
2. Ardent believer in Muscat Municipality as a Knowledge Organisation
3. Strong support of executive management of Muscat Municipality and the development team
4. Proven capability and experience of developer in executing large and complex project
5. Strong and responsible Project management from Muscat Municipality IT department
6. Major highlight of this implementation was dedicated and committed efforts from MM and the development team. Project from both the parties worked in very co-operative and supportive manner to ensure successful delivery and implementation of this project

There are some recommendations which could produce a better output than what has been done. They are:
a. Re-engineering the business processes of the services must be done prior to the automation process. This could save a lot of time during definition phase of the project lifecycles and would reduce the change requests for the business processes in the later stages of the project.
b. A knowledge-based CRM project lifecycles phases include definition, solution analysis and design, build, and transition and production. Due to massive re-engineering processes, it would be better to split the project phases into sub-phases for each service. This would reduce the pressure on the technical support teams during go-life activities. Moreover, it will create a learning carve for the project team and end users to have an experience after first service going life leading to improve the other services during build and production phases.
c. Using SharePoint as Project Management Information System (PMIS) in ä knowledge-based CRM project had some limitation because it did not give the all picture of all projects running in Muscat Municipality. Therefore, it is recommended to use a proper PMIS such as Enterprise Microsoft Project Management Software which can give a full picture of all projects in Muscat Municipality. It will support the communications with all project teams in all projects and will allow sharing the information and resources between different projects teams in a better way
d. For assigning resources to each activity, it was recommended to avoid multi tasks and assigned only one resource to be responsible for completing each task. In addition, it was recommended to assign the tasks which are related to each other to one resource. This activity will enable the resources to concentrate in one area leading to better understanding and produce better results.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Muscat Municipality
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Salim Said Al-Kalbani
Title:   Senior Projects Specialist  
Telephone/ Fax:   0096895308030
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   B.O. Box 79
Postal Code:   100
City:   Muscat
State/Province:   Muscat
Country:   Oman

          Go Back

Print friendly Page