e-Tendering System
Bahrain Tender Board

The Problem

The e-Tendering system was introduced as an initiative to resolve the following issues:
The review and approval of tenders used to take a long time within both BTB and the Purchase Authorities (PAs). It also used to take a long time to communicate with the PAs regarding different matters related to their tenders. In addition, it was time consuming to inform all the suppliers about the opened, published and awarded tenders.
There was a lot of paper work involved which made the tendering process more bureaucratic. There was also a high tendency of work duplication due to the lack of a streamlined organized process.
Suppliers had to visit their banks in order to issue manager checks and insurance certificates. This requires the suppliers to carry a large amount of cash with them which is both risky and time consuming. This results in a security issue when suppliers submit their manger checks and insurance certificates through the BTB’s reception area. On the other hand, the number of suppliers bidding for tenders is increasing by the day. Suppliers visit BTB to submit their bids on tenders’ closing dates. The reception area of BTB is small and cannot accommodate the increasing number of suppliers.
The board members of BTB meet on a weekly basis to review the tenders submitted during that week. This requires a full week of preparation. The outcome of the board meeting is conveyed manually to the concerned parties. This is both time consuming and requires large amount of paper which is not environmentally friendly.
All tenders’ communications are kept in physical folders and archived in a storage area. This requires a large physical storage space. Finding and retrieving a tender from this area consume a lot of time and efforts.
As a result of the above, BTB has less control on the publishing of tenders from the PAs hence potential corruption could take place. Moreover, there is less transparency, equal opportunities and protection of public funds. Example, suppliers might not see the tenders’ advertisements in the newspaper and hence miss the opportunity to apply. This could also affect the PA of the tender as they might be missing some of the best suppliers in the market for that type of tender.
Below are some average statistics of the volume and value of transactions handled by BTB.

In terms of volumes, BTB manages over 6700 bids on annual basis with valued at around 900 Million Bahraini Dinar.

It can be concluded from the above figures that BTB is handling a vast number of tenders which are high in monetary value. Thus, automation of the tendering process is vital to the day-to-day operation of BTB hence the introduction of the e-Tendering system.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The main achievements of the e-Tendering system is the organization of the tendering process within the PAs in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the creation of a virtual market which was not there before introducing the system. As a general achievement, the system increases the transparency, accountability, and responsiveness in the public service.

BTB achieved a 60% reduction in processing time by streamlining the whole tendering process. It also achieved a reduction in administration cost, paper work, duplication of work, follow up with the PAs for approval and security issues. In addition, the weekly board meeting is handled using electronic media and the outcome of the meeting is easily distributed amongst the concerned parties. Moreover, BTB has a complete control and overview of the data entered in the system through the generation of various reports which helps in minimizing corruption. The reports generated contain real time and accurate data. BTB can also share these reports with higher government authorities and use them while generating their annual reports. The system allows multi stage bid opening which indicates that BTB is able to control every stage of the bidding process. Each tender must go through a predefined set of activities known as the unified workflow which allows BTB to ensure that mandatory milestones are never missed. PAs cannot amend the unified workflow, they can add additional activities for their internal use. In addition, BTB is able to view all cancelled and deleted tenders. On the other hand, BTB can now better manage the suppliers.

As for the PAs, they achieved a paperless environment whereby they are able to create their tenders and upload the associated documents online without the need to visit BTB. This applies to documents to be shared with the suppliers and those to be reviewed during the weekly board meeting. They no longer need to print the tenders’ documents and sell them to the suppliers as they will be available for purchase online. Moreover, they no longer need to send the list of suppliers to BTB for verification.

By using the e-Tendering system, suppliers achieved the concept of transparency and equal opportunities. Published tenders are available on the e-Tendering supplier portal. All suppliers need to do is register. The ability to purchase the tenders’ documents online means that suppliers no longer need to approach the PAs and purchase the documents manually. They can purchase them at their own convenience. Suppliers are also aware of those who got awarded the tender and are allowed to send complaints and grievances letters to BTB asking for explanation. It initiated a greater opportunity for small and regional based businesses. International suppliers are now able to participate in the bidding. Suppliers can securely submit their tenders online without any fear that someone will open their bids.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
BTB proposed the need for an e-Tendering system. BTB carried out an initial system study and published it as a public tender. It was awarded to VARStreet (URL: http://varstreet.autotask.com with a local partnership of Al-Nadeem (URL: http://www.alnadeem.com). VARStreet had already developed and implemented a similar system in the US. VARStreet customized the already developed system to fit the requirements of BTB and PAs and the laws in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Having been rewarded, the vendor’s project team visited BTB and conducted intensive requirement gathering sessions with the BTB and PAs’ business users. VARStreet shared with the business users their experience in this field in order to implement the requirements in the most efficient manner.

As for the suppliers part of the system, the best practices were adopted.

The stakeholders of the e-Tendering system are Bahrain Tender Board, 85 Purchase Authorities (PAs) which are under the regulatory framework of BTB and thousands of local, regional and international ones Suppliers and contractors.

(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.
It is BTB’s vision to become a role model organization, demonstrating best practices with regards to its business processes and ethics, thus earning the trust of their stakeholders and clients.

It is within BTB’s strategy to be the governing authority to oversee and supervise all tendering, purchasing and awarding processes related to public sector and government owned organizations. BTB aims to protect public property and prevent any influence of personal interests on tender formalities and processes. BTB also aims to achieve the maximum level of economic efficiency in obtaining government purchases at competitive and fair prices. Other aspects of the strategy include the encouragement of suppliers and contractors’ participation in government tenders and purchases, the enhancement of integrity, competitiveness and provision of equal opportunity and fair treatment to all suppliers and contractors and the achievement of total transparency in all aspects of government purchasing procedures.

The above is aligned with the broad guiding principles of Bahrain’s economic vision for 2030 in terms of sustainability, competitiveness and fairness.
BTB followed the below strategy to implement the system:
•Spread awareness about the system amongst the stakeholders, get their buy in and handle the change management aspects early on in the project. This was achieved by conducting awareness sessions at the beginning of the project by BTB.
•Develop a system that meets the users’ needs and requirements in order to ensure its usage. This was achieved by BTB organizing intensive requirements gathering sessions in collaboration with the vendor.
•Keeping the stakeholders informed about the progress of the project. This was achieved by BTB sending regular updates and organizing update sessions.
•Involve users throughout the project to instill the ownership in them. This was achieved by involving users in all phases of the project and ensuring that their feedback and comments are noted and passed to the vendor. BTB was responsible for that.
•Help is readily available without the need to contact the help desk. This was achieved by BTB ensuring that help files are comprehensive and available throughout the system.

The strategy was to conduct a pilot phase with a small number of Purchasing Authorities (PA's) before going live with all the PAs. This is to ensure that the system is working as expected and to carefully handle the transition from the manual work to the electronic world.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
This is best described by highlighting the key phases in the project plan.

Initiation phase
This phase included the definition of the project team, the project stakeholders and the project scope. It also included the creation of the project schedule with defined tasks and activities.

Planning phase
The planning phase included the gathering of business requirements, their analysis and translation into workflows and submission of proposals to address them.

Execution phase
This phase included the actual coding of the requirements and customization of the system. It also included the write up of the documentation.

Testing phase
This phase included the testing of the requirements by both BTB and PAs’ business users.
The above two phases were iterative until it was ensured that all the requirements are met and successfully tested.

Deployment phase
This phase included the deployment of the system in production; configuration, set up, etc…

Training phase
Having completed the deployment, users were given an intensive training course.

Roll out phase
This phase included the roll out of the system in the pilot ministries.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Resistance to change from some Purchasing Authorities (PA's):
BTB ensured to invite those PAs with the ones who are comfortable with the idea and are willing to use it. The idea behind this is to get those PAs encouraged and reduce their fear. This was also to get them to gradually accept the transition and not feel that it is forced upon them.
Some of the stakeholders were not accepting that the system is able to track their tasks and activities. This is because they could be questioned at any time regarding any delay or issue as all the communications in the system are stamped with date and time. This will be dealt with by issuing a decree to rely solely on the e-Tendering system as the official channel for tendering.
Large population of PAs and suppliers
BTB faced an issue when conducting awareness sessions, requirements gathering sessions and training sessions among others due to the large population of the business users. BTB created a detailed plan for each of these sessions and ensured that it is structured in a way to fit all the PAs within a defined timeframe. PAs were informed of such sessions ahead of time.
As for the suppliers, the main obstacle was the training. BTB did not have enough resources to be able to conduct the training for PAs and suppliers in parallel. There was also a very high demand on the supplier training from the supplier community. Therefore, BTB decided to outsource it to the local partner (Al-Nadeem) to ensure a large number is being trained. Moreover, regional and international suppliers were requested to use the system and use the available help files. They could seek help if need be from the local partner.

(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
For the financial resources, BTB secured the budget for the e-Tendering system from the Ministry of Finance. A budget is allocated every year to cater for maintenance costs, licensing costs and outsource resources.

The technical resources includes a technical team from the vendor, BTB and the local partner. The technical resources in terms of the infrastructure required to host the system, BTB upgraded their infrastructure in order to cater for the increased number of traffic and users in the future.

As for the human resources, BTB recruited two resources from the local partner as an outsourced; one Database Administrator and one Business Analyst. The idea is to be able to support the project team within BTB and act as the intermediary between BTB and the vendor.

As part of the process, a nationwide training program was provided to suppliers, vendor and Pas to ensure smooth and effective adoption of the new automated system.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The system is being sustained financially by paying a fixed yearly fee for maintenance and support. As for systematic sustainability, the system can handle the growth in the users’ population and data. This achieved by actively monitoring the number of users and size of database. Fine tuning is continuously handled by the Database Administrator to ensure a smooth write to and extract from the database. The regulatory sustainability is achieved by actively monitoring any changes in laws or regulations.

The system can be easily replicated as it is a standard application (vendor specific) customizable to the users’ needs. Moreover, each tender is viewed as a standalone project with a unified workflow. Extra tasks and activities could be added as per the users’ needs. Users’ could add additional task and activities as required by their entity.

The system is disseminated throughout the public service nationally, regionally and internationally by an active marketing campaign to be organized by the Bahrain eGovernment Authority.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The key elements are as follows:
•active participation of the business users and suppliers
•having the right level of support from all parties involved
•the open-mindedness of the stakeholders to overcome their resistance to change and join their counterparts
The main lessons learned are those related to the obstacles; specifically the handling of large population of users. Some mistakes occurred in relation to the number of users to be invited and the grouping of PAs. It would have been a bonus to arrange visits with other governments around the world to learn from their experience and avoid falling in the same trap they did.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Bahrain Tender Board
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Faisal Mohammed
Title:   Head of Prequalification  
Telephone/ Fax:   +973-17-566666
Institution's / Project's Website:   https://etendering.tenderboard.gov.bh/
E-mail:   faisal.mohammed@tenderboard.gov.bh  
Address:   P.O. Box 18686
Postal Code:  
City:   Manama
Country:   Bahrain

          Go Back

Print friendly Page