| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The implementation of this solution was outsourced to a company whose experience in the deployment of middleware solutions is exceptional in the region and internationally. The implementation plan consisted of multiple phases:
Phase 1 – Design and Establishment [June 2010 – May 2011] – The first established the technical infrastructure for the NGI, including all the supporting components, such as various monitoring tools. This phase started with the review of the proposed architecture and its compliance to the National Enterprise Architecture Framework (NEAF). Then the infrastructure setup and configuration took place to ensure that the ESB and all supporting software and portal functionality were fully integrated. Finally, rigorous performance testing was conducted to ensure that every aspect of the solution was fit-for –purpose. One particular concentration for the testing team was security assessment and penetration testing to ensure that the NGI conformed to the highest privacy and security standards.
Phase 2 – Pilot Services [July 2010 – May 2011] - In parallel to the first phase, a second phase started to develop pilot services to kick-start use of the NGI directly after completion. The development phase adopted the ‘waterfall methodology’ for sequential design and development of a software system. Each of the selected pilot services was integrated into the ESB and exposed through the NGI. Finally several rounds of functionality testing were conducted to ensure that the service could be correctly accessed and used by each of the front-end channels connected to the system.
Phase 3 – Roll-Out [January 2012] – Once the NGI had been established with fully operational pilot services, the third phase integrated the full portfolio of over 200 online services into the NGI. Each service was integrated with the ESB and exposed over the NGI to allow seamless access across compatible front-end channels.
Phase 4 – Monitoring and Evaluation [January 2013 onwards] – Continuous monitoring of the initiative was implemented from day one of deployment. Officials from eGA regularly check both the performance of integrated services and ease with which new services can be added. Annual reports are compiled by the team and widely circulated to ensure the project continues to perform to the highest standards of excellence.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Due to the cross-departmental nature of the NGI and its main objectives, a diverse range of stakeholders were engaged to ensure the solution developed was both representative and fully functional:
Government Agencies: A range of government entities were involved in the NGI as the creators of different services. Agencies were required to provide technical information about the architecture of their solutions and the interoperability requirements of their own IT systems. Agencies involved include the Civil Services Bureau, Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Works, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning, Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Central Information Organization and Ministry of Health.
Private Businesses: Businesses were consulted during the planning and implementation of the initiative to ensure that design of the solution met their need to access government services quickly and efficiently. A key example of business consultation was insurance companies, who were asked to provide their requirements for access to the vehicle registration services.
NGOs: Bahrain’s NGO community was also consulted during the design and implementation to make sure that entitles can easily integrate services they need into their operations. An example of this consultation are many NGOs working with economically disadvantaged families, who were asked for their requirements in accessing the Ministry of Social Development’s financial aid services to identify at-risk citizens.
Citizens & Residents: A final group of stakeholders consulted extensively in the monitoring and evaluation phase were citizens and residents. Citizens were asked to provide their feedback on access to services through the different eGovernment channels such as the webportal and mobile portal. Using citizen feedback, the NGI team has maintained continuous monitoring and improvement of the solution.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The financial resources were allocated as part of the bi-annual budget that is planned by the government. [The project cost was BD 470,000 for the acquisition and setup of infrastructure and the development of Pilot Services. Furthermore, the cost of services migration comes close to BD 80,000]
* Project Manager responsible for resource management and business continuity
* BPR specialist provided the AS-IS and TO-BE
* Business Analyst delivered the system prototype
* Technical Analyst created suitable architecture
* Developer part of the service delivery team to develop the software systems
* QA and Testing team to ensure end to end quality assessment of the system.
In terms of technical resources, some of the most experienced resources were hired in the eGovernment Authority to supervise the delivery of the solution and ensure the high standards are maintained. Additionally, the tender to implement NGI was awarded to a company that has an extensive experience in implementing this kind of projects with the required technical expertise to deliver its outcome up to the highest standards and expectations.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The most successful output from the NGI project has been a common backend infrastructure capable of creating a seamless and fully interoperable suite of government services. Within this overall architecture, a number of concrete outputs have supported the success of the NGI:
Interoperability as Standard: NGI has been designed specifically with the ability to integrate heterogeneous systems. By designing a system capable of handling all common formats (e. SOAP, REST, Webservices), NGI has removed from government departments and Ministries the burden of redesigning their services to match any new top-down standard. Instead, NGI creates interoperability as standard to facilitate seamless and simple integration of all government services into a common backbone.
Service Automation: NGI has the ability to provide highly automated and complex services to government departments. The architecture of the ESB has been created to allow innovative synthesis and collaboration between government services. NGI has the ability to share commonly held information about citizens across a range of services to ensure that many services never have to collect citizen information but can automatically access and use existing databases.
Monitoring Dashboard: NGI has been developed with robust functionality to define, measure and improve service performance via a real-time KPI monitoring dashboard. The dashboard has allowed the senior management teams throughout the government to improve oversight of services and maximize synergies between different services.
Private Sector/ NGO Integration: NGI provides the necessary technical architecture for close partnership with the private sector by facilitating access to the government services and vice versa. The same functionality has also allowed the government to integrate services with the NGOs in the community.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Project Management Approach: Monitoring of the implementation of NGI was conducted using best practices for Project management and the use of tools and techniques recommended by the PMI (Project Management Institute) in their PMBOK standards. All work was also carried out in full conformity with the ISO 21500 standard for project management
Key Performance Indicators: The eGA has developed, as part of the 2011-2016 eGovernment Strategy, a suite of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each of the key projects developed by the authority including the NGI. The purpose of these KPIs is to ensure that all projects fully supported Bahrain’s integrated eGovernment vision. The key KPIS that NGI contributed to are as follows:
• All government online services are managed through a unified system – NGI realizes the goal of a unified system
• Three eGovernment Projects to be funded annually and technically supported – NGI funded and supported from 2010 onward
• Two government-wide systems implemented to increase service efficiency and readiness – NGI delivers interoperability between all services
• Three eGovernment Channels significantly upgraded and integrated by 2013 – NGI supports upgrade of webportal, mobile portal and eService Centers & Kiosks
• All government service information available online – NGI enables simple discovery or services
Refine Monitoring Approach with Stakeholders: The NGI team made a particular point of introducing the concept to the whole of the government on the highest level and discuss it with the Supreme Council for Information and Communications Technology (SCICT) which is chaired by H.E. the deputy prime minister of the kingdom. Various workshops were conducted with different government, NGOs and private sector partners to create the necessary awareness and set the expectations accurately. Finally, frequent progress reports were circulated to the relevant stakeholders
Success Stories & User Training: To create a series of success stories and accessible case studies, a limited number of ‘trial’ services were implemented, as a pilot phase, to create the confidence in the capabilities of the solution. These case studies were then circulated to all stakeholders to give all government departments, regardless of technical level, an entry-point to the many benefits of the NGI. Moreover, user training sessions were conducted to familiarize and educate people on the usage of the infrastructure as well as to introduce it to the service development life cycle adopted internally.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Resistance to Change from Service Providers
Challenge – One of the main obstacles to the successful integration of the NGI was the resistance to change in the development teams of certain services. The NGI team experienced a number of entrenched practices and a wish to stick within technological ‘comfort zones’ rather than explore a new system.
Solution – The NGI team implemented a comprehensive and far-reaching change management plan that managed to gradually get the necessary buy in from the impacted stakeholders by creating the awareness and the extensive training provided.
Challenging IT Formats
Challenge – Some services were developed using more difficult IT formats that were initially incompatible with the ESB. Such services were often built using closed IT systems sold by a technology provider and not designed to be interoperable with other formats.
Solution – Wherever possible, the NGI team undertook specific development work to include all available formats through the ESB. Where development was not possible or financially feasible, the NGI issued guidance to all government entities on supported formats and provided support for any agency who wished to redesign services to be compatible with the NGI.
Lack of IT Expertise
Challenge – NGI encountered immature understanding of available technologies and incomplete knowledge about integrating services into a common middleware in some government agencies.
Solution – NGI overcame this challenge by providing a far-reaching and flexible training programme to all new and existing personnel to prepare them to use the solution.