| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The strategies used require involvement of all stakeholders to create a sense of sharing and ownership.
Implementation of these strategies has been divided into 3 phases as follows:
1. The first phase involves consultation with the BOI Executive, Director and staff of FEU, and the ICT staff to outline the Terms of Reference (TOR), develop an operational plan and budgeting. This phase includes a collaboration of stakeholders to be in line with the laws and regulations that need to be taken into account.
2. The second phase is to work with a software consulting firm to develop a suitable e-Expert System according to the TOR, which includes:
1) A software development process. Starting with requirement analysis, which is a crucial part that leads to understanding the features and capability, role and function of the system in order to develop the appropriate software by working closely with FEU staff and skilled ICT technicians to find out the most effective and efficient manner to process applications, working procedures, required documents, approval letters, etc.; and
2) Program and system testing. The activities related to event simulation in order to test the system and digital content with a recently promoted company, ‘NMB Minebea Thai Group (NMB)’, which has more than 100 promoted projects with nearly 400 foreign skilled workers and 800 dependents. At this stage, the NMB staff has given a large number of useful comments and suggestions to fine-tune, and create a more suitable software program that is user friendly. For the second round of test runs some 100 small/medium/large newly promoted companies were involved. The result turned out positive and only some minor changes were needed to be done.
3. The third phase revolves around implementation:
1) The e-Expert system was announced and started on the 12th of April 2012. From the beginning of the transition period, the BOI allowed companies to apply using either the paper or electronic systems.
2) The e-Expert System has been electronically 100 % effective since 1st January 2013.
3) There were several follow-up meetings to ensure that the system is legal according to the Electronics Transaction Act of 2011, in terms of clarity of the laws, and regulations.
In preparing all the stakeholders, a training course was organized and delivered for the FEU’s director and staff, together with the staff of 7 regional offices. Followed up with additional training courses throughout the year for the promoted companies, more than 6,000 people from nearly 3,000 companies have been trained. The Director of the FEU also was a Guest Speaker at the BOI’s seminars and other institutes, both in Bangkok and regional areas.
Also, several meetings called ‘Happy Hour’ were arranged, for the purpose of answering any enquiries or sharing ideas from those companies using the e-Expert system in order to maintain and improve the system.
The office also is gathering information to rate the service satisfaction of the FEU. Once this information has been assessed then improvements can be made to ensure better quality of service in the future.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
These are the people involved in the development of the e-Expert System:
1. BOI management and executives who are in charge of the agency’s ICT system drafted policy suggestions and provided budgets, materials, and personnel support.
2. The FEU staff who have worked with the system development team from the beginning of the project.
3. The Director of the FEU who is very keen to create and to have the project launched, implemented, and will monitor the objectives of the project, while coordinating with those companies using the system.
4. The pilot promoted companies (1 + 100) that shared ideas during the development of the system.
5. The other promoted companies that started using the system and also contributed input that have helped to improve the quality of service after problems occurred.
6. The government offices shown below:
1) The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) that provides consultation regarding the Thailand Information Technology Law and Electronics Transaction Act of 2011;
2) The Immigration Bureau that attends meetings and shares useful information about the approval of documents and granting permission to foreign skilled workers who want to extend their stay in Thailand; and
3) The Department of Employment that participates in meetings and shares useful information about obtaining work permits and extending work permits for foreign skilled workers.
7. The software consulting firm that developed the e-Expert System with an experienced team and with a focus on tasking excellence.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
1. Financial and budgetary resources - The budget was allocated in 2012 from the BOI office to pay the consulting firm for developing the e-Expert System. This budget was paid out in installments after each job was checked and completed. Later more budgets were allocated for the following activities;
1) To reorganize the architecture of the e-Expert System to accommodate the workload (which is expected to increase steadily).
2) To develop an electronic document storage system to support the Office of Immigration and the Department of Employment instead of accumulating documents in hard copy form.
3) To provide training and hold seminars for the e-Expert System, both in Bangkok and Regional Offices.
4) To draw up and distribute advertising and PR materials such as brochures, manuals and VDO instructions.
2. Knowledge resources - The knowledge used for system development, including the basics on how to apply and how to edit existing documents within the online system, and the knowledge of those laws related to the security of the system and the security of applications. The knowledge required to link the BOI’s existing database to the e-Expert system, which includes the Internet, server, LAN, database, HTML, PHP, Visual Basic, and application criteria. It is important to understand the laws regarding electronic commerce, which may affect users of the system.
3. Personnel resources - There will be collaboration from:
1) The Director of the FEU, who is responsible for the coordination and control of the system’s development;
2) The officers of the FEU, who take part in considering and answering requests, who must provide information to development staff, and who monitor the accuracy of this information;
3) BOI Information Technology officers, who coordinate and monitor the standard and safety of the system and link the databases of the BOI Office;
4) The system development team, the most important, that sets the whole system up in order to meet the expectations of the FEU; and
5) The recently promoted companies that joined to test the system throughout its various stages – from conception to implementation.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
After the e-Expert System had been in use for a while, the improvements were clear and significant, when comparing the old way of handling the hard copy documentation of over 15,000 requests per year, and the new online system. There were 14,416 requests from April 2012 – September 2012 (9 months) and there were 65,803 requests made by October 2013 (10 months from September 2012).
This shows a large increase in the amount of service requests, and it also demonstrates the convenience of the new e-Expert System. There also are training courses for the companies that have used the system during the promotional period. These instructional modules have helped to clarify changes made to the promotional plans of the e-Expert System for more than 6,000 people, or more than 3,000 companies.
Furthermore, the e-Expert System has reduced the consumption of paper. Reviewing the old system of handling hard copy documentation, some 200 cartons, or 500,000 pages, of paperwork were generated each year. This means approximately 100 trees per year (1 tree produces about 5,000 paper sheets) can be saved. In the old system there were a lot of attached papers for submitting requests, for example, certificate of incorporation, copy of shareholders lists, and power of attorney documents, that needed to be attached every time for the application to be processed appropriately. The use of so much paper adversely affects the environment. After introducing the new system in 2012, there were only 130 cartons of paper generated. Then on the 1st of January 2013, after the announcement that the new system would be fully operational, there were zero cartons of paper generated.
The system effectively reduces time and cost for promoted companies creating a positive impact upon their operations.
The system also solves the problem of limited human resources for the BOI, as officers at the BOI’s 7 regional offices can be assigned to new jobs as all applications will be processed by the FEU.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Since the beginning of the e-Expert System launch, the office has been evaluating the use of the system by providing a questionnaire after seminars at both the central and regional offices. Participants were trained to use the system and submit the requests online. During training, a normal working process was re-created and simulated as if it were a real operation. After submitting the application, the request was registered into the system with an alert message to the participants, then the requests were shown on the “to do list page” of the officers for them to consider and to pass on to the Director for approval. At the end of the training, the participants were asked to complete the questionnaires and to return them for assessing their satisfaction level on using the system.
In addition, additional training courses were offered to the promoted companies throughout the year, both in Bangkok and the other 7 regional offices. Feedback from the participants also was collected and considered for improving the e-Expert System.
Also, arrangement of the survey was outsourced to Mahidol University, which focused on target groups and evaluated the results of the questionnaires. This was done in order to ensure the accuracy of the results of the surveys as drafted by different agencies. Incidentally, the survey results by Mahidol University also showed there was a high level of satisfaction with the new e-Expert System.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The manual paper system was replaced by the e-Expert System. At the beginning, there were some problems experienced by both the officers of the FEU and the newly promoted companies;
1. Regarding the promoted companies:
1) Some users lacked the necessary IT and internet skills. This is a very common problem when starting to use the e-Expert System. Accordingly, the office offered training courses for the staff of promoted companies on how to use the system and explained the system to skilled foreign workers during the first six months of their employment.
2) Problems on the lack of free flow communication and information exchange. This occurred in the initial stages of the e-Expert System’s deployment. At first it was difficult to publicize information and news while the application process was being converted from hard copy documentation to the e-Expert System. Problems encountered included un-updated user e-mail addresses. Some companies have changed staff and missed important notifications from the office. In order to solve these problems, information was disseminated through various channels, which included:
• Sending out announcements to users via email
• Publishing monthly e-NEWS and brochures
• Uploading manuals and VDOs on www.boi.go.th
• Continuously arranging seminars and training courses
2. The office internet network required improvement and this was accomplished with the installation of high speed internet that had larger bandwidth and with the relocation of servers to the Data Center at CAT Telecom Public Company Limited to ensure availability and security at all times. Such a move fixed the problem of network delay.