Business Licensing Integrated System (BLIS)
eGovernment Authority

The Problem

The Kingdom of Bahrain manages business licensing in a decentralized manner where licensing of business activities are administered by multiple government authorities, and not through a central body. While licensing and commercial registration (CR) processes are distinct, licensing entities require the business investor to obtain commercial registration approval from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC) prior to granting license approval, even though approval from licensing entities for business activities is just as necessary for commercial registration to be completed. An investor is unlikely to be fully apprised of all licensing requirements of his chosen business activity until he embarks on commercial registration process.

The current commercial registration and licensing landscape are exposed to the following challenges at the national and business community level:
-Inefficiency in commercial registration and licensing processes with too many co-dependencies
-Lack of collaboration framework across ministries to maximize synergies among ministries and agencies
-Lack of system, process and people integration to promote seamless, effective data exchange and knowledge sharing across agencies and entities
-Inadequate and insufficient trained resources to transform national initiatives and strategies into implementation plans that enable and promote collaboration and integration across ministries
-Lack of effective monitoring and enforcement model for commercial registration and licensing practice

Business Licensing Integrated System (BLIS) programme is a key eGovernment initiative, under the eGovernment Strategy Program established in 2007, aligning with Bahrain National Economic Vision 2030 to improve business competitiveness of the kingdom. .

This will mandate electronic enablement of government services to overcome existing operational challenges faced by the public sectors by leveraging ICT as a means to improve governance and work processes with inter-ministerial automation on world class ICT platform.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
BLIS programme was jointly driven by MOIC, Economic Development Board (EDB) and eGovernment Authority (eGA) to provide the necessary focus and leverage resources from national development, business and ICT perspective in order to improvise and improve the delivery of services to the foreign and local business community and to promote the Whole-Of-Business Approach in the information age . BLIS programme aims to simplify and enhance efficiency in commercial registration and licensing processes for business community, improve cross ministries collaboration with integration of data, systems and workflows, raise effectiveness of Commercial Registration and Licensing monitoring. .

MOIC, EDB and eGA so far successfully completed many milestones, including landscape survey of the whole licensing environment in Bahrain, a process which applied business process re-engineering technics and methods to stream-line, integrate and make the BLIS adapt to a collaborative environment between entities and stake holders. This covered fifteen pilot licensing currently managed and handled by 12 different government entities. The results of this detailed study and re-engineering is incorporated into the implementation process which is currently on-going.
Once the implementation is completed the business public will see and experience an improved, co-ordinated collaborative system and better license practice and monitoring facility for the Government of Bahrain. BLIS will provide a an efficient, transparent and simple one-stop eService window, fully automated approval mechanism, enabling unnecessary dependencies and delay in the government approval chain with a clear advantage in administrative process to the Government as well as a clear visibility to the general business community.
First stage of BLIS will see the launching of the 15 pilot licenses integrated with Commercial Registration processes and key national ICT initiatives, the National Gateway Infrastructure(NGI), National Authentication Framework (eKey) and National Payment Gateway (NPA) in 2013.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The idea of creating a pro-business environment for investors and improving the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the associating public services was mooted by the Crown Prince. As Chairman of EDB, The Crown Prince spearheaded the national initiative as the executive leader to meet the country’s Economic Vision 2030, to promote the country’s economic development and creating a more competitive and business friendly environment. The Crown Prince is joined by the Minister of MOIC as the Chairman of BLIS Steering Committee, the CEO of eGovernment Authority, as the Sponsor of the BLIS system and the Assistant Undersecretary of MOIC, as the BLIS system owner. The project is jointly driven by senior management and working teams from MOIC, EDB and eGA with the following supporting organizations participating as key stakeholders, government ministries/agencies and suppliers of the BLIS programme and system.

Key Stakeholders:
-Ministry of Industry and Commerce
-Economic Development Board
-EGovernment Authority

Licensing Entities:
-Ministry of Municipalities Affair & Agriculture
-Committee for Organizing Engineering Professional Practice (COEPP)
-Ministry of Culture (MOC-Tourism Affairs)
-Ministry of Health (MOH-Public Health)
-Ministry of Justice (MOJ)
-Ministry of Interior (MOI-Traffic)
-Ministry of Labor (MOL-Training Institutes Affair)
-National Oil & Gas Authority (NOGA)
-Public Commission for Protection of Marine Resources, Environment & Wildlife (PMEW-Environment Control & Assessment)

External Entities/Government Agencies for Infrastructure, integration and Data Exchange:
-Central Informatics Organization (CIO)
-Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA)
-Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB)
-eGA (NGI, eKey, NPA)

Participating Suppliers:
-LG-CNS, Korea (BLIS System Implementation Supplier)
-IDA International, Singapore (BLIS BPR Consultant)

(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.
A Strategic Business Review (SBR) was initiated at the early stage of BLIS programme with senior management and leaders of MOIC, EDB and EGA to determine the vision, strategic directions and desired outcomes from the programme. The set of strategic objectives, drivers and desired outcomes were determined from the SBR as follows.

Strategic Objectives:
-Boost Bahrain’s business competitiveness by simplifying the processes of obtaining commercial registrations
-Increase transparency and efficiency for doing business in Bahrain
-Enhance customer service and convenience to businesses and investors through effective and innovative use of ICT

Desired Outcomes:
-Operational Efficiency, Transparency & Excellence
Promotes regulatory and institutional frameworks to harmonize policies, programs, and integrate services
-Enhances organizational performance, interoperability, and open standards
-Promotes social inclusiveness and collaboration among government agencies and citizens
-Transforms Administration
-Streamlined commercial registration and business licensing processes
-Seamless integration with external agencies
-One-stop-shop with online electronic submission and approval in a collaborative environment

Strategic Drivers:
To achieve the desired outcomes for the programme, four key strategic drivers have been identified as follows:
-Operational Efficiency and Excellence
-Integrated Quality Information System Environment
-Change Enablement
-Customer-Centric Culture

Driven by MOIC, EDB and eGA, the strategic drivers were translated into the implementation plan of BLIS which includes the following actions:
-A BPR framework and To-Be processes to help improve the CR and Licensing processes for MOIC and Licensing Entities
-A set of action plans for MOIC, EDB and eGA to review and enhance the business activities categorization, improve existing policies and procedures affecting CR and Licensing application, conduct organization review and changes to enable the new business processes/practices and further review with licensing entities to adopt the BPR processes
-A set of RFP specifications to solicit a suitable BLIS system implementation provider to implement the recommendations and technical solutions for BLIS
-Phase implementation of BLIS system to first introduce pilot licenses determined in BPR exercise in Phase 1, followed by remaining licenses which will adopt the BPR processes in Phase 2 implementation of BLIS system.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The BLIS programme started in mid 2010 and a RFP was called for consulting services to provide review of end-to-end CR and Licensing process and landscape in Bahrain with recommendations to improve the CR and Licensing processes and a set of RFP specifications for BLIS system implementation in the next stage.
The BPR exercise started with a Strategic Business Review (SBR) with senior management and leaders of MOIC, EDB and eGA to determine the vision, strategic directions and desired outcomes from the programme. From the BPR exercise, MOIC, EDB and eGA had completed the landscape survey of the licensing environment in Bahrain, the technical analysis of the current systems in MOIC and a business process re-engineering exercise (BPR) of 15 pilot licenses from 12 Licensing Entities.

A set of To-Be processes were determined for MOIC and pilot Licensing Entities to simplify and improve the process of obtaining a commercial registration and licensing requirements that revolve around this process.

A RFP was called by eGA in mid 2011 for a turnkey IT solution that includes system design, development/customization, supply, installation of infrastructure (Hardware/Software), implementation of BLIS solution, service integration, support and maintenance, data migration, change enablement and training of BLIS. The expected result is a one-stop, online integrated system for investors to apply and renew CR and related licenses in Bahrain, enhance investors’ experience in delivery of service, and improve operational efficiency with streamlined CR and Licensing processes promoting Whole-of-Government approaches in the Information age as well as to promote gender responsiveness in the delivery of public services.

With the BLIS IT system implementation Tender closed and awarded in 2012, the BLIS IT system implementation was officially kicked-off in Jul 2012 and project is currently in progress with the first stage rollout.

The first stage of BLIS will see the launching of pilot 15 licenses integrated with CR processes and key national ICT initiatives, i.e. National Gateway Infrastructure(NGI), National Authentication Framework (eKey) and National Payment Gateway (NPA) in 2013, to provide business investors (foreign or local) a one-stop, online integrated BLIS eServices Portal with simplified and seamless CR and licensing processes.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The following depicts the key challenges encountered and actions for overcoming them.

Requirement of Continued support from senior leadership:
Given that BLIS is one of, if not the first national initiative in Bahrain that see cross-ministerial collaboration and integration of people/process/system, the constant focus and guidance from senior management and leadership is necessary to generate, reinforce change and maintain the momentum required for the success of the project. This was overcome by establishing BLIS structure at both senior executive leadership level and working level to provide oversight, directions and decisions. Periodic progress reporting and monitoring on the progress of BLIS were also updated to relevant committees and work groups to ensure dependencies, integration and support are achieved at the right levels throughout the project.

Requirement of sustained participation from the Licensing and other Government Entities:
The participation of the licensing entities is very important to the success of the project in view that BLIS will take a few years to implement. Some measures that have been in place include having good communication plan for continuous communication and engagement with the entities to ensure continued support and involvement of the licensing entities throughout the project.

Provision of resources for MOIC:
BLIS implementation requires extensive resources from MOIC, in terms of manpower, time and funding to help execute the BLIS implementation successfully. To overcome the resource constraint, a review of the domestic trade structure has been carried out by MOIC with a new domestic trade structure proposed for the ministry to gear up itself and prepare for the new business structure to be in place for the BLIS operation.

Enabling Change and Project Focus:
Given the multi-entities involvement of BLIS, with each entity having its own organization motivation, there were differences surfaced during BLIS implementation. This posed challenges to the project as common objectives have to be communicated and accepted across all levels of each entity. Readiness of all entities need to be managed which ensure the project can be successfully executed. A change management team has been established to provide the continuous engagement and promotion of a common understanding and alignment of the business objectives to all the affected entities. The change management plan will assist in providing the motivation and focus of the project organization throughout the life of the project, despite personnel changes and business operating environment changes.

Requirement of strong Programme Management (PMO):
As BLIS is not just an IT system implementation and requires ability in different disciplines (policy, technical, business) to provide support and manage its implementation, it is important to establish a multi-discipline team at both management and working level to provide the necessary driving force to deliver the project. A strong project management and business teams, comprising of participants from MOIC, EDB and eGA, has provided the required mix of capability, skills and experience to play the role of the PMO, to stay agile and adapt to the inevitable changes that crop up during implementation

(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
BLIS is a multi-stakeholders, multi-disciplined and multi-million dollar national initiative which involves ministries, organizations and resources that span across from the public and private sectors. The project is driven by MOIC as the champion and owner of BLIS, with participating Licensing Entities who were involved in the BPR exercise to review existing licensing processes and introduce new licensing processes, eGovernment Authorities (eGA) who provides the overall programme management, procurement, contract management and project management of IT system implementation , Economic Development Board (EDB) who provides the policy, regulatory and change support from BPR to BLIS implementation, and other government agencies such as Central Informatics Organization (CIO) involved in providing IT infrastructure and data exchange, including Cloud services to BLIS, and ICT integration platforms and services such as National Gateway Infrastructure(NGI), National Authentication Framework (eKey) and National Payment Gateway (NPA) from eGA.

The significant benefits of capitalizing resources and ability in different disciplines (policy, technical, business) provide the necessary synergies, collaboration and integration across the ministries/agencies to drive changes in BLIS. Also, riding on the eGovernment strategic plan to provide eServices that integrates with common national ICT platforms and services (e.g. NGI, NPA and eKey) reduces resource wastage and duplication in ministry, improves the service delivery efficiency, and provides a holistic approach towards interconnecting information and resources across the public service sector. Engaging international suppliers of eGovernment solutions and services enabled best practices and implementation experiences from these countries to be successfully adopted for BLIS implementation.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The BLIS programme is a national initiative which is under the purview of the Cabinet of Bahrain, Supreme Committee for ICT (SCICT), Executive Board of EDB and BLIS Steering Committee. There were periodic progress reporting and monitoring on the progress of the initiative to BLIS Steering Committee and Supreme Committee for ICT with key resources mobilizes within MOIC, EDB and eGA to help ensure the project is a success. Financial support has been catered for and supplied for the project, in particular, the BLIS system implementation under the eGovernment strategic plan to ensure budget for the implementation and maintenance of the BLIS system is fulfilled for the next 5 years (2 years implementation + 3 years maintenance). BLIS is also taken to be the first integrated public service showcase using the common national ICT platform and services such as Government Cloud provided by CIO, NGI, NPA and eKey provided by eGA. Its success will help set the stage for other government agencies (OGAs) to use the common, centralized ICT platform and services to continue improve the public service of Bahrain by improving and streamlining work process in Bahrain with innovative use of ICT.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The BLIS programme is envisaged to create a more pro-business environment for investors and improving the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the associating government organizations and agencies. At the moment, tangible targets are being mapped and finalized for the participating licensing entities and MOIC which will be translated into public service performance indicators to be delivered by BLIS as an one-stop, online integrated eServices platform for the investors (foreign and local).
With the completion of the BPR exercise and the BLIS system implementation in-progress, the key lessons learned to ensure continual success in BLIS project is to provide leadership focus and attention for the project, adequate resources with effective programme management, continuous communication and collaboration among the participating government agencies and entities, and enabling the change within business organizations, policies, processes and practices across the agencies, ministries and the public.

Main Lessons learned:
-Government entities needs to work together as a single enterprise and reach out to citizens, communities and social organizations for various services rendered by leveraging information technology, process and systems to keep accessibility, availability and authenticity of public systems anywhere, anytime.
-Government Investment should be focused on promoting Whole-of-Government in the Information Age and ensure adaptability to  changes in policies and legal framework
-Need for ensuring a sustainable, effective & efficient implementation of people, process and resources to minimize the administrative cost and efforts to address the Vision 2030 for the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   eGovernment Authority
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Aref Murad
Title:   Head, EA Governance  
Telephone/ Fax:   +97317388388
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Postal Code:  
City:   Muharreq
Country:   Bahrain

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