Thailand Board of Investment

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The Foreign Expert Unit (FEU) is a division of the Investment Services Center, Thailand Board of Investment (BOI). It has the duty to consider bringing in foreign skilled workers and their families to stay and work in the Kingdom for promoted investment projects with reasonable durations of residency and positions under sections 25 and 26 of the Investment Promotion Act B.E.2520. Skilled workers include foreigners working at the senior and top executive level, middle management level and expatriate level. Procedures for foreigners who wish to work in Thailand for BOI promoted projects: 1. Apply for a Non- Immigrant Visa, Single Entry, at a Royal Thai Embassy/Consulate 2. Submit an application to the BOI and obtain an approval to stay and work for a promoted investment project 3. Apply for an Extension of Stay Permit at an Immigration Bureau according to the BOI approval letter together with a Re-Entry Permit for eligibility to re-enter Thailand during the approval period 4. Apply for a Work Permit at the Department of Employment according to the BOI approval letter For the last 45 years, the application process was available only on paper, and there was some difficulty for investors to get through these procedures in a timely manner. For example, to apply for a visa and a work permit through the BOI’ s FEU, if the applicant is in the city, then traffic can become the main problem. However, if the promoted company is located up-country, then the distance to travel to the office providing visa/work permit services will become another problem. Besides, there are additional steps involved in obtaining approval after submission of hard copy application, including the tendering of requests, editing of documents, tracking the status of those requests, and traveling to the office to receive approved documents. Submission of hard copy application requires attachment of multiple copies of supplementary documents. The tendering of such a large number of documents causes an adverse effect upon the environment. Also, the documents need to be kept in storage for 10 years, amounting to 200 cartons or 500,000 sheets per year (500 sheets x 5 reams x 200 cartons). The accumulation of paper has become an issue for the BOI thereby obligating the government agency to consider possible solutions to simplify procedures, shorten the time and cost of the Foreign Expert Unit’s services, and help the environment and preserve forests. All of these problems impact the country as a whole. In the past five years, the value of applications for investment promotion privileges averaged 736.7 billion baht per year. For year-on-year growth, we grew by 120 percent in terms of value and 22.4 percent in terms of the number of projects. This shows the BOI’s success in promoting investment and increasing the numbers of foreigners who apply to stay and work in Thailand. Therefore, to facilitate doing business in Thailand and provide services efficiently and effectively with increased productivity, the BOI decided to create new tools to work on visa and work permit-related applications.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Thailand Board of Investment at your service If business persons/investors wish to set up an operation in Thailand, the best contact point is the Office of the Board of Investment (BOI), which operates under the Ministry of Industry and is the principal government agency for encouraging investment. The BOI is available to assist prospective investors in numerous ways, including: Enhancing Competitiveness and Investment Facilitation • Offer an attractive and competitive package of tax incentives. • Impose no foreign equity restrictions on manufacturing or certain service activities. • Provide assistance in the provision of visas and work permits to facilitate entry and subsequent operation for a foreign-owned business. • Waive restrictions on land ownership by foreign entities. Business Support Services • Provide comprehensive information and advice on establishing operations in Thailand. • Arrange site visits. • Identify potential suppliers, subcontractors, joint-venture partners. • Provide useful contacts with key public and private organizations. • Coordinate between the foreign business community and other public agencies The BOI is tasked with devising and implementing strategies to promote investment into Thailand, acts as Thailand's marketing arm and actively promotes the country worldwide as one of the best investment locations in Asia. The Director of the FEU and the chief executives of the BOI proposed using information technology to help promoted projects in the submission of investment promotion-related requests and applications. The online services allow applications to be submitted and information to be updated anytime and anywhere. This resolves all the problems stated in Question 1 quickly and efficiently. This project had been managed in collaboration with 4 parties throughout the implementation stage: 1. The BOI team includes the CIO, Foreign Expert Unit, Investment Services Center, Investment Information Technology, and 7 Regional Officers. They have gathered data on investor requirements and needs, discussed and prepared project plans, reviewed and revised the Terms of Reference (TOR), and proposed budgeting; 2. Related government agencies such as the Immigration Bureau, the Department of Employment, and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) joined meetings to find out appropriate collaborative strategies among government agencies; 3. Pilot promotion projects ( 1 + 100 companies) have joined the project since the beginning stages in gathering requirements, conducting test runs and overseeing implementation; 4. Software consulting firms with the best solutions and excellent teamwork are essential, as there needs to be a major change in the provision of services by changing from paper submission to an online system. This online application, submission, and approval system has become more convenient for everyone, especially for investors and foreign experts. The format of the online documents has been designed to be user friendly, thus they are very simple and easy to complete.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
It is quite a challenge to use the e-Expert System to satisfy all the needs of different user groups. The system has different purposes for different groups: Investors: 1. Convenience on submitting requests via the internet anywhere, anytime; 2. Convenience to attach or edit digital documents without the cost of travel; 3. Ability to access the request without a power of attorney by using safety mechanisms such as User IDs and Passwords; and 4. Real time tracking and system alerts on the progress of the request. FEU: 1. Officers will take less time and work more efficiently when considering requests online; 2. Reduce human typing errors and paper work as the content is retrieved and printed out from the database; 3. Allow the Director of the Foreign Expert Unit to approve the requests online via the internet anywhere, anytime, regardless of time and place; and 4. Reduce paper consumption. Related government agencies: 1. The Immigration Bureau and Department of Employment can access and search for BOI approval letters online; 2. Reduce paper consumption; and 3. In the near future a plan whereby the information among the three parties can be shared and interchanged, thereby leading to a Single Window project on visas and work permits.

C. Execution and Implementation

 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 • 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.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The key benefits resulting from this e-Expert System are as follows: 1. The speed of service delivery improved more than 200% for individual users and companies when submitting requests, handling applications and getting approval for all documents without wasting time. It is easier and quicker for officers to work on requests using the e-Expert system. Previously, it would take 40 minutes to process applications manually, but it only takes 5 minutes when using the e-Expert System at this stage. More productivity in processing more applications with fewer officers was achieved. Recently, 7 regional officers who used to work on applications for skilled foreign workers were transferred to do new jobs. 2. According to the “User Satisfaction Report”, by using the online system, promoted companies can save time and costs as they have fewer documents to prepare and to process. Furthermore, the applications can be submitted via internet instead of having to travel to various offices. This also has led to reducing the negative impact upon the environment by using a lot less paper. 3. Communication between offices and users became more convenient due to database sharing via the e-Expert System, which can be accessed from anywhere via the internet. 4. Unified standards were applied both at the central and regional offices concerning rules and conditions.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
When applying to stay in the Kingdom through the Immigration Bureau, skilled foreign workers have to submit forms TM-7 and TM8. From the survey, it was found out that nearly 75% of the forms’ contents are similar to the applications of the FEU, while 99% of its content can be used when applying for a work permit under the Department of Employment. For the next step of collaboration among related government agencies, the BOI has provide space in a new server and developed an Electronic File System or a search system for the Immigration Bureau and the Department of Employment. Visiting the website and entering a user ID and password, assigned officers from both agencies can search for electronic versions of approval documents. The BOI plans to stop sending approval letters manually to the Immigration Bureau and the Department of Employment in the near future. The process to be used by the Electronic File System is as follows: 1. Officers of the Immigration Bureau / regional border cities and the Department of Employment / Provincial Employment Office will have access to the URL of the Electronic File System. 2. BOI has created a User ID and Password for each agency to access the Electronic File System, thus the agency officer can search, browse, print or store the electronic approval documents via the website ( In addition, the e-Expert System can be more beneficial to the country, if capacity can be increased to connect and develop a Single Window within the One Stop Service Center for Visas and Work Permits, for exchanging data among the BOI, the Immigration Bureau and the Department of Employment. This is the future roadmap to advance the Single Window for Visas and Work Permits. Such an action will provide better services to promoted companies and reduce time and costs for both companies and government agencies. Regarding the success of the e-Expert System, the office plans to develop e-investment portal for the entire system, in order to improve the BOI application process and to promote investment. In doing so, the BOI has arranged a forum for the exchange of ideas and lessons learnt while creating the e-Expert System for BOI officers. It is expected that the feedback can be utilized in the future development of an e-investment portal.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The main elements that made the FEU successful in the development of the e-Expert System are many. Yet, it started with the policy adopted by BOI management and top executives. Priority was given to the improvement of the operation process and office functions. There also was the need to improve the quality of service in order to provide better facilities to meet the needs of investors. Moreover, all stakeholders were involved from the beginning of the project. The project team and software developers spearheaded the system’s progression and continue to provide ongoing support. Still, key factors in the success of the system can be summarized as follows: 1. The vision of executive management to focus and set the policy of the BOI in order to facilitate better service for meeting the needs of entrepreneurs, ensuring satisfaction to all clients, assisting the budgetary process, and supporting the workforce required to complete the project. 2. The initiative and responsibility of the BOI’s FEU to ensure that changes made to improve the quality of service met international standards. 3. The focus on the development of a One Stop Service Center for Visas and Work Permits in order to obtain the best value and highest returns. 4. The well-designed systematic process that was meant to start correctly at first (do it right from the beginning). The involvement of all stakeholders and related government agencies through all stages of the development process ensured that information and the entire process was accurate. Analysis through the collection of accurate and complete data was an essential requirement to understand fully the process at work. 5. The determination, effort, energy, dedication and teamwork by all those involved to produce a successful project. 6. The availability of appropriate technology to effectively and efficiently use hardware, software and the network. But, more importantly, was the availability of suitable and experienced human resources. 7. The public unveiling of the the new system by providing clear information through a variety of media types and channels.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Thailand Board of Investment
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Ms.Krongkanoke Managitjonggol
Title:   Director, FEU  
Telephone/ Fax:   +(66)2 209 1161/ +(662) 209 1194
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   18th Floor, Chamchuri Square Building, Phayathai Road,
Postal Code:   10330
City:   Pathumwan District
State/Province:   Bangkok

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