Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment
Trinidad and Tobago

The Problem

In 2009, the World Bank’s Annual Ease of Doing Business Survey had ranked Trinidad & Tobago 80th out of 181 countries (dropping from the 71st and 67th positions in the years 2008 and 2007 respectively). This ranking was lower than many benchmark countries such as Singapore, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada and Mauritius as well as many countries in the Americas and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Trinidad and Tobago’s declining global competitiveness position was in part due to the inefficiencies in delivering key business services to the citizens and the Private Sector.

The inefficiencies mentioned above resulted primarily from the following main areas:

 the lack of coordination among the agencies involved in trade and business facilitation resulted in unnecessary delays, excessive costs, uncertainty and low levels of transparency and accountability;

 the organizations involved in trade and business transactions were many, not situated in the same locality and an exporter/ importer had to physically visit each agency to obtain relevant application forms and repeat this procedure to submit same for processing. The lack of co-ordination among agencies lead to importers/exporters repeatedly entering the same information for submission to different agencies thereby wasting time in document preparation and processing;

 the ‘discretionary’ interpretation and implementation of laws, tariffs and regulations by government officials (due to their discretionary powers owing to the lack of automation on a single monitored system) caused uncertainty and facilitated an environment for corruption;

 while there were ‘islands’ of IT systems in several government agencies performing specific tasks related to trade facilitation, a holistic & unified platform for trade and business facilitation did not exist.

Prior to the introduction of the TTBizLink system, firms would only have been able to apply for various trade and business related services using the manual/paper process. This was characterized by the submission of multiple copies of essentially the same information to multiple government agencies. This was reflected in copious paper work, time lost in commuting and waiting in lines, frustration in obtaining status updates and a repetition of the process when amendments were required or applications misplaced. Additionally, approving government agencies would often receive applications that were incomplete and in need of supporting documentation.

These inefficiencies were an impediment to Trinidad and Tobago’s economic growth since they negatively impacted the country’s international competitiveness and thereby its attractiveness as a destination for business, trade and investment.

TTBizLink is a secure, neutral and user-friendly IT platform accessed online at which facilitates the delivery of various trade and business related services online/electronically from the ‘front-end’ i.e. end-users/applicants to the ‘back-end’ i.e. approvers. It is in keeping with Pillar Number 4 of the Government’s National Strategic Development Plan which is “Interconnected Development– Information and Communications Technologies.”

TTBizLink can be accessed anytime i.e. 24/7 from anywhere in the world. Persons and firms no longer have to go into an agency to collect a form during its working hours but can log onto the system and complete and submit e-applications as needed.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
Since the deployment of TTBizlink e-services in early 2012, citizens and firms have experienced significant improvements in their interaction with the Government for key business and trade services in terms of time and cost savings.

Clearly defined service standards were established with the relevant stakeholders and monthly reports are generated to ascertain the efficiency of the system and its individual e-services (i.e. the percentage of applications processed in accordance with the set standards). Constant feedback from end-users of the system is also actively sought by the MTII in an attempt to ascertain customer feedback.

The specific improvements in processing time associated with each Module or e-service are as follows:
 e-Company Registration Module under the Ministry of Legal Affairs (Registrar General-Company Registry)-Processing time reduced from 7 days to 3 days;

 e-Work Permit Module under the Ministry of National Security (Work Permit Secretariat)-Processing time reduced from 6 weeks to 2.5 weeks;

 e-Import/Export Permits & Licenses Module under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment (Trade Licence Unit), Ministry of Food Production (Animal Health and Plant Quarantine Divisions)-Processing time reduced from 4 weeks to 1-2 days;

 e-Certificate of Origin Module under the Business Development Company Ltd. (Certification Unit) and the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC-Certification Unit)-Processing time reduced from 1 day to 5-30 mins;

 e-Fiscal Incentives Module under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment (Investment Directorate)-Processing time reduced from 6 weeks to 11 days; and

 e-Import Duty Concessions Module under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment (Investment Directorate)-Processing time reduced from 6 weeks to 11 days.

During the implementation of TTBizLink several achievements were also realized such as:
 Infrastructure Achievements-TTBizLink operates on a secure and neutral platform via a branded online portal . This platform rest on a sophisticated infrastructure built entirely as part of the project owned by GORTT which is housed at the Government’s Data Centre at Fujitsu (Caribbean) Trinidad’s Headquarters in Barataria. The TTBizLinK Infrastructure’s security system is designed using a layered approach in conformance with an Integrated Security Framework (ISF). During the period 01 January-15 December 2012, the number of electronic applications processed through TTBizLink website has grown from 1 to 10,000.

 Policy Achievements-given the absence of a National Framework on e-Government, the MTII had to develop, in collaboration with international and local stakeholders, the following Policies in keeping with international standards: Electronic Authentication; Electronic Data Storage and Records Management and Electronic Data Security. These policies were approved by the Cabinet and are now being used to shape National Policies.

 Legal Achievements-the implementation of TTBizLink accelerated the National Legislative Reforms required to ensure a safe e-commerce and e-government environment in Trinidad and Tobago. In this regard, the Data Protection Bill of 2011 (now Act. No. 13 of 2011) and the Electronic Transaction Bill of 2011 (now Act. No. 6 of 2011) were enacted into legislation. This legislative framework now allows any Public Administration Body to offer its services electronically.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
TTBizLink is led by the MTII in collaboration with CrimsonLogic Pte. Ltd. of Singapore. CrimsonLogic Pte. Ltd. is a multinational company which has over twenty five (25) years of experience in e-government implementations and is majority owned by the Government of Singapore. The company is the proprietor of the internationally acclaimed TradeNet System which TTBizLink has in part been modelled on. The services of CrimsonLogic Pte. Ltd. was obtained under the ambit of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the Government of Singapore on ICT.

The design and implementation of TTBizLink followed many of the Recommendations and Guidelines on establishing a Single Window developed by the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT-Recommendation No.33).

More importantly, TTBizLink was realized through a massive collaborative effort amongst various Governmental Ministries, State agencies and private sector organizations. These included the Plant Quarantine Services and Animal Health and Production Division of the Ministry of Food Production; the Registrar General’s Department of the Ministry of Legal Affairs; the Work Permit Division of the Ministry of National Security; Ministry of Public Administration; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Finance and the Economy; the Business Development Company Limited; the National Information and Communication Technology Company Limited under the Ministry of Science and Technology; the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards as well as the country’s two largest private sector bodies- the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association.

Each organization involved in the SEW participated in the Requirements Gathering stage which was critical to identifying the actual work flow, and challenges and inefficiencies versus what would be more operationally efficient and user friendly. This informed the preliminary design of each module of the system which was used during the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) both for users and approvers to determine what needed to be further refined.

There was also coordination led by the MTII among the relevant IT and Communications department of each organization. The former to ensure that the IT infrastructure was reviewed and upgraded as deemed necessary and to ensure that the IT personnel were trained in the use and maintenance of equipment. The latter, to ensure consistency of the branding used in various advertising media and accuracy of information being disseminated to stakeholders.

(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.
Implementation of TTBizLinK involved a range of strategies to ensure the project’s success.

Firstly, prior to the full implementation of TTBizLinK, a comprehensive feasibility study was undertaken by the MTII to examine the project needs and potential of a single window and review of best practices and standards by international organisations as well as the then current enterprise-wide ICT and public administration reforms which were being implemented by other Government departments. This first step ensured that the system that was built was customized to the needs of the country and that potential obstacles in project implementation were mitigated. More importantly, it ensured that the Project did not duplicate but complement many of the reforms which were being also undertaken by other Government Departments at that time.

Secondly, Strategic Leadership and Effective Project Governance were established by ensuring that the Cabinet of the country had approved the Project thus allowing all relevant stakeholders to use the system for their trade and business clearances. Additionally, an Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee with various sub-committees comprising several Senior Ministers and Public Officers were established to steer the implementation of the Project.

Thirdly, Commitment and Cooperation of Stakeholders was sought from the inception of the project and in every stage of its development and implementation. In this regard, stakeholders formed part of the various project teams and worked alongside the MTII during the project development and implementation. This strategy ensured stakeholder understanding of all components, clarification of expectations, roles and responsibilities and and project buy-in.

Fourthly, a main focus of the SEW Project was on business process reengineering in the relevant GORTT departments administering the various SEW Modules. This entailed a comprehensive review of existing work flows to identify and eliminate points of inefficiencies so that automation could result in an enhanced system. A comprehensive Business Process Mapping and Reengineering (BPR) Report was developed and implemented by the various project teams.

Fifthly, a detailed communications plan was developed and implemented over the phases of the project to ensure that stakeholders were informed about current developments and to provide feedback to the project teams on concerns that may have arisen.

Sixthly, a specialized PMO was established within the MTII staffed by competent and committed professionals. Each TTBizLink Specialist has responsibility for the operationalization of a particular module/e-service and is charged with strengthening working relationships with the Module’s stakeholders to ensure smooth delivery of service, adherence to set targets, monitoring and performance evaluation against agreed parameters. Such Performance Based Management is encouraged at all levels within the Unit. A comprehensive Knowledge Management Framework was also established to facilitate sharing of information, best practices and lessons learnt. Moreover, the PMO adopted a customer focused approach to service delivery. To this end, there has been the establishment of a dedicated TTBizLink Help Desk mandated to ensure that no stakeholder is unduly inconvenienced when issues arise and that incident resolution turnaround times are kept to a minimum.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
There were five distinct phases followed by the MTII in the implementation of TTBizLink which were based on established project management methodologies.

Step 1 was the Initiation Phase of the Project (December 2009-March 2010) whereby the pre-feasibility study was conducted by the MTII. Following the study’s results and subsequent approval given by Cabinet for the project’s full implementation, a project Charter was developed in collaboration with the main stakeholders in the public and private sectors.

Step 2 was the Planning Phase (April 2010-September 2010) where detailed Requirements Gathering for the various e-services took place via numerous project meetings with the relevant stakeholders. A detailed Work Breakdown Structure was also developed according to the agreed Project Scope together with a detailed Communications Plan. A Business Process Mapping and Reengineering Report was also completed along with a Change Management Plan for approving agencies involved with the respective e-services.

Step 3 was the Execution Phase (October 2010-October 2011) which comprised the preparation by the Contractor of Design Specifications for the various modules and subsequent review by the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee. During this stage the modules were developed for pilot testing which involved rigorous User Acceptance Testing (UAT) followed by Training for front and back end users. The entire procurement and installation of the infrastructure requirements of TTBizLink was also completed.

Step 4, which took place in tandem with Step 3, was the Monitoring and Control Phase whereby the cost, schedule and scope of the project was monitored and adjusted according to changing project requirements and stakeholder needs.

Step 5 involved the commencement of the deployment of the various e-services during January 2012 and the Commissioning of the SEW Platform. Following this, the Maintenance and Operations of TTBizLink began, and is on-going according to a detailed Maintenance and Operations Plan which is reviewed on a quarterly basis.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
Implementing TTBizLink brought with it many challenges, most of which were related to change management within the various approving agencies. For example, during the early stages of the project implementation, many of the public sector agencies were unwilling to ‘outsource’ some aspects of their IT operations to another Ministry. This was necessary since the TTBizLink platform would be maintained by the MTII and the system’s infrastructure would reside in a secure data centre and not in their internal environments.

Another change management challenge was the reluctance of some approving agencies to share its client data with other government agencies because of their concerns related to confidentiality and data security. As a result, they were reluctant to have their ‘back-end’ IT systems integrated with TTBizLink since it would be accessible on-line via the internet.

With respect to the above challenges, stakeholder engagement and consultations were essential to building trust in the system. The concerns of each agency were recorded and technical teams were formulated to examine each issue and arrive at solutions that were satisfactory to all Parties. This required stakeholders to be flexible in their requirements and positions. The MTII as the Project Leader also recruited several experts in data management and security to ensure that stakeholders were comfortable that their system architecture of TTBizLink would be built according to internal standards. The MTII also collaborated with the Attorney General’s Office to develop Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs) between each participating agency so that issues relating to data sharing and protection of confidential information could be addressed and have legal standing.

Another main challenge in the execution of the Project was the limited technical resources within the MTII (as the Project Leader) to implement all aspects of the Project. Therefore, the MTII had to establish a dedicated Project Management Office with competent and skilled staff. Additionally, the technical resources, expertise and services of several other Public Sector Agencies were recruited as part of the extended project team. For example, the MTII ‘out-sourced’ the entire project management of the infrastructure component of the TTBizLink project to the National Information and Communications Technology Company Ltd. which is a State Agency under another Ministry with the responsibility of managing GORTT’s ICT infrastructure. This ensured that the MTII focussed on its core business and did not duplicate the roles and functions of other Ministries and Agencies.

Lastly, the absence of National Policies related to Cyber Security, Electronic Authentication, Electronic Records Management etc. proved to be a major challenge. This, as TTBizLink would transform the very nature in which government services would be administered (i.e. electronically) and the State had not begun to deal with these issues since they were entirely new. The MTII therefore had to form cross functional teams to draft Policies in these areas for the Management of the System and recruit international consultants to ensure that same were developed according to international standards.

(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
The GORTT has invested heavily in TTBizLink given the project’s objectives. Phase I the Project which has already been completed and saw the launch of six key e-services since the beginning of 2012 required an investment of approximately 15.5 Million USD (TT$100M). This was met entirely by the GORTT as an investment in ‘critical infrastructure.’

Financial Resources were mobilized following the results of the feasibility study conducted prior to the full implementation of the project and were requested by the MTII as part of the normal budgetary cycle in Trinidad and Tobago.

In addition to the financial resources, the technical and human resource inputs came from several channels.

Legal expertise was provided by MTII’s legal department and the Office of the Attorney General in drafting contracts and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), to inform Policy Development and preparation of legislation and Regulations to give credence and build confidence in TTBIZLINK.

Over 85 public officers worked on the implementation of the system through various project teams and participated in approximately 315 project meetings. These teams were established by the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee and based on stakeholder consultations.

Additionally, investments were made in the manning of a specialized Project Management Office (now converted to an Operations and Knowledge Management Office) which includes TTBIZLINK Specialists. These specialists were selected from the country’s cadre of retuning national scholars. Stakeholder and Communications Specialists were also recruited who focussed on creating an awareness of the TTBIZLINK to obtain buy-in from the business community, providing training and support to stakeholders and ensuring that delivery service standards were monitored.

The International Finance Corporation of the World Bank was instrumental in providing guidance and recommendations on strategies to improve Trinidad and Tobago’s Ease of Doing Business Ranking. The team from CrimsonLogic Pte. Ltd. brought the technical expertise and experience in building and implementing a Single Window Solution. Operational and institutional expertise was provided by managers and staff of various agencies to understand process flows and assist in designing and implementing reengineered business process flows and policy development.

Significant investments were made in providing and upgrading IT infrastructure. To operationalize TTBIZLINK, connectivity was established with the Government’s Data Centre at Fujitsu (Caribbean) to house the TTBIZLINK Platform.

The IT infrastructure of each approving agency involved in Phase I was also strengthened. The process included the review of existing systems and subsequent upgrades to meet the TTBIZLINK system requirements. It also included the procurement of appropriate hardware such as laptops, wifi devices, heavy duty scanners and printers for effective integration with the TTBIZLINK. Arrangements were also made with igovTT for the integration of its ttconnect ID authentication services with the TTBIZLINK.

As part of this upgrade, significant attention was also paid to the training of relevant staff in the use, monitoring and maintenance of the upgraded systems.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The MTII has focused a great deal on developing and executing a comprehensive Knowledge Management Framework for TTBizLink. The primary objective of Knowledge Management within the context of the operation of TTBizLink is to ensure that upon expiration of the Contract Agreement between the MTII on behalf of GORTT and CrimsonLogic Pte. Ltd. of Singapore, the former possesses the necessary ‘know-how’ to manage and operate the TTBIZLINK with support from the Contractor (on an as needed basis). The Agreement between the MTII and CrimsonLogic Pte. Ltd. will be in effect through August 2017 and can be renewed thereafter.

In order to ensure that the above objective is met, the MTII has transformed its Programme Management Office to an Operations and Knowledge Management Office. The staff of the Office is responsible for executing the following functions in collaboration with personnel from CrimsonLogic Pte. Ltd. so as to ensure that the system is sustainable for the GORTT:

Training – coordinate the on-going training of government employees to administer TTBizLink’s e- services as well as “Train the Trainer” sessions within the Private Sector to train members of the business community. This will ensure that sufficient persons are trained within the public sector to administer the system and that the normal attrition and movement of staff doesn’t negatively affect the operations and sustainability of the system.

Communications - Coordinate the promotion and adoption of the TTBizLink e-Services within the public and private sector so as to drive adoption and usage.

The MTII has also put in place a system of convening focus groups of external stakeholders (industry representatives, academicians, citizens, etc.) to review the usability and accessibility of the Platform so that constant enhancements can be made which is user driven. Additionally, the Operations and Knowledge Management Office has documented all of the Procedures and Policies associated with the various Modules through Manuals and are ensuring that the knowledge and experiences gained through implementation of TTBizLink is institutionalized and showcased within the Public Sector.

Given the e-government revolution created from the success of Phase 1 of TTBizLink, several other Ministries have approached the MTII to discuss the automation of its services using the TTBizLink platform. In this regard, Phase II of the Project has begun and, when completed in January 2014, will see the Maritime Division of the Ministry of Transport offering e-services for Vessel Arrivals and Departures. Additionally, transformation of the Central Tenders Board of the Ministry of Finance and Economy has also begun with the development of a Contractor Registration Module which will lay the foundation for e-procurement in the country.

Trinidad and Tobago has also had the opportunity to present TTBizLink at various regional and International fora such as the World Trade Organization, International Finance Corporation of the World Bank and the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA). Additionally, through the success of TTBizLink the Governments of Suriname and Jamaica have requested technical assistance from the GROTT in implementing similar projects in those countries.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
Significant change of any business process within the Public Service requires continuous stakeholder collaboration, buy-in and constant communication. There is the need for solid commitment and common goals on the part of the key stakeholders, from the very start of project implementation. The key stakeholders must assist in driving the implementation process rather than simply being led.

Another significant factor that contributed to the success of TTBizLink was the trust and close collaboration with related government agencies and private-sector experts and the Vision and Leadership provided by the National Strategic Plan and Inter-ministerial Steering Committee.

In effecting transformation within the Public Service it is also important that the existing policy and legislative frameworks are in place. For TTBizLink it required the passage of the Electronics Transaction Act No. 6 of 2011 and the Data Protection Act No. 13 of 2011. This gave legality to electronic documents, electronic records, electronic signatures and electronic transactions and provided for the protection of personal privacy and information, respectively. Such framework builds confidence in the minds of users of the new way of transacting business in the information age.

Careful and meticulous deliberation must also be given to the selection of a lead consulting team with due regard to existing tendering processes and to ensuring that ICT solutions developed outside of a country’s borders can be customized and implemented successfully locally. CrimsonLogic was selected based on its successful history with providing end-to-end e-Government solutions in more than 20 countries, including Singapore, which ranked first in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report.

The implementation of any new system must be based on a thorough constructive and critical investigation of existing business processes to determine existing gaps and the exact human resource, technical and infrastructural needs of each agency relative to its mission and should be a collaborative effort. The internal adoption of any new system of process required that appropriate change management methodologies also be introduced by the leadership of each agency.

TTBizLinK’s success was also in part based on following the recommendations and guidelines developed by the international community such as UN/CEFACT which ensured that best practices were followed.

Finally, the most valuable lesson associated with this initiative concerns Trinidad and Tobago which, as a small developing country in the Caribbean, exhibited the ability to implement a project of such complex dimensions. The success of TTBizLink has proven that even small island economies are capable of being leaders in the implementation of transformative public sector projects utilizing ICT once clearly defined project management methodologies are adhered to and careful attention is paid to inclusivity of all stakeholders.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Randall Karim
Title:   Mr.  
Telephone/ Fax:   868-800-4739 ; 868-781-3797; 868-623-5156 (fax)
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   9 and 11-17 Nicholas Tower
Postal Code:  
City:   Port of Spain
Country:   Trinidad and Tobago

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