One Stop Shop (OSS)
Ministry of Commerce and Industry

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) is responsible for the registration of commercial, industrial, mining activities and businesses in the Sultanate of Oman. However the manual registration procedures were complex involving many Directorates from within MOCI and approvals from other government organisations such as the Municipalities, Royal Oman Police, Ministry of Manpower, etc. The lack of developed and modern electronic system to facilitate the inter-ministerial administrative works further aggravated the inefficient situations. Hence, due to complex workflow processes and bureaucratic red tapes, registration of a company may take several months before a commercial registration could be finalized. Under the manual system, investors both local and foreigners who wished to set up a business would have to complete several registration forms manually. They would have to submit the completed forms together with many other supporting documents. Since, approvals for various types of related permits reside with other Ministry/Government Organisations, these made the process even longer and more tedious. Furthermore these approving authorities used their own internal databases, matching data entry and information became very cumbersome as different databases were used and there were lots of data duplication and errors. As a result, less than 1000 companies were successfully per month. In addition, the classifications of the businesses were not unified and standardised among all the ministries including the commercial licenses numbering. New documents were requested for registration of additional branches of an existing business resulting in duplications. There were no geographical classification for the Omani regions and governorates made accessible to all the governmental entities. The investors registering their businesses had to visit different Ministries and Government Organisations which were time consuming and very inconvenient. There was no one single entity which the investors can go to and carry out all the necessary transaction for registering their businesses. Inconsistency in the Commercial Registration records such as duplicate CR for the same company in a given region, wrong company classification etc. As a result, the Government was unable to assess the sustainability of the local Small Medium Enterprises (SME) and the measure the impact of Government funding initiatives to boost the local SMEs. In the past, the investor also had to wait for one month for the commercial registration application to be completed and had to visit each government entity separately in order to get the required approvals for the registration. In some cases, inspections have to be made before the issuance of the registration. In fact, the time required for each application in any concerned entity was two weeks minimum. As Oman is moving towards economic diversification with the Vision 2020 which emphasises on the shift from oil-based industries, it is crucial that a more efficient and effective way of registering commercial entities is implemented so as to attract foreign direct investment into the country.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The One Stop Shop (OSS) initiative for government business services was developed and implemented by MOCI in order to streamline business registration processes in the Sultanate. The initiative was implemented in collaboration with the following government entities. a. Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources for municipal licences in the interior regions b. Ministry of Manpower for processing of manpower clearance c. Royal Oman Police (Directorate General of Passport & Residence and Directorate General of Civil Defense) for resident visa approval and HSE approval d. Muscat Municipality For municipal licenses in Muscat Governorate e. Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry for business membership registration The OSS is a centralised system that united all the above vital government services across different agencies by using open standards, open data and shared systems for the seamless integration of commercial and business registration eServices. Through the OSS system the commercial registration web services is also accessible electronically through the e.oman portal in which the relevant government entities can access companies commercial registration information as per their access level. As a result of this initiative, related organizational performance are enhanced by integrating and sharing of information and databases which minimizes duplication of efforts and reduces costs through knowledge sharing and data exchange, more effective deployment of resources through integration of back-end office operations, utilization of innovative channels and tools for the delivery of government eServices. The system serves three different sectors: a. Investor: easing of applying of business applications, getting approvals from different government entities. b. Private sector: increase in the volume of Foreign Direct Investment after implementation of OSS. c. Government: by exchange of information (Commercial Registration web Service) that is available in the system and auto approvals. The registration process is now decentralised and outsourced to local entrepreneurship programme known as SANAD (Self-Employment and National Autonomous Development) offices as well as through the self-service Kiosk and registered Legal Services Offices. There are about 700 SANAD offices throughout the Sultanate. Through such offices, commercial applications and updates can be done online with point of sales ePayment solution. The provision of OSS services generated business opportunities to the local entrepreneurs. All required documents can be attached and submitted online as well. As an added service to the OSS solution, online authentication and certifications can also be done through integration to related government entities. This model has also helped people from remote parts of the country to establish businesses. Specific functionalities offered as online services with very minimal fee catered to home businesses has triggered the rise of new business models The OSS initiate was further enhanced in 2013 to become the next generation of One Stop Shop with the tag line “Invest Easy”. The core objective of the second wave was to open up the Commercial Registration information, simplify the CR registration further, unify the whole of government licensing and establish a central and unified Annual reporting system for businesses. Until now, the team is already half way through of the 2nd wave and benefits of the second wave. Even so, the Business Community has already embraced the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), Digital Signatures, Online information availability, Public Announcements etc., and 15 more entities have joined the OSS. Together they transform the business registration which further eases the life of citizens and investors who wish to start a business in Oman. MOCI handled on an average just 4000 commercial registrations prior to the OSS initiative. However from 2005 once the system was implemented, one stop shop was able to handle on an average 22,033 transactions. Through the OSS initiative, about 1.8 Millions applications were received and completed between 2005 till Oct 2013. About 71% of these applications were processed and approved within 1 hour and the rest completed within 3 working days. Oman also saw 140% increased in foreign direction investment immediately after the implementation of OSS solution in 2005 from 0.11 billion in 2004 to 1.61 billion in 2012.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
OSS established the standards for the Web-services based data sharing in 2005. It pioneered the utilisation of the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and offer all the channels such as Mobile PKI, Omani Resident card PKI and the e.Oman Portal Single Sign on login . As a result, the users do not have to go through lengthy registration and approval process. In the latest version, the OSS optimised the Open Source technology, and established the first Cloud platform in the Sultanate of Oman. It is most likely the only OSS in the whole region to be on an Open source cloud platform. OSS services are decentralised to 700 SANAD offices around the Sultanate which provide business opportunities and employments for citizens outside the capital area. This is essential to encourage the entrepreneurship spirit especially for those in the rural areas. Today, OSS has a total of 21 government entities sharing information and knowledge to enhance the quality of their respective eServices. Through the global ISIC standards, citizens and investors across different government entities have a common platform and language for licensing and it helped Government as a whole for a unified reporting and analysis. This helps to promote the Whole-of-Government Approaches in the Information Age.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The elements of the action plan are described below 1. The key transformation was started in 2003 with a detailed As- IS and To- Be business consulting exercise which identified the need to simplify the cross ministry process and which acted as a catalyst for the establishment of One Stop Shop System. 2. Subsequently the first wave of technology implementation was carried out between 2003 and 2009 with various launches that resulted in the establishment of a. First version of the National Business Register b. Establishment of the National Activity code Database based on ISIC Standards. c. Licensing Approval for the 6 core agencies identified. d. Establishment of the Back office System for handling the cross ministry approvals e. Establishment of online portal for the public to interact with the Government for Business related activities. f. Establishment of the cross ministry data flow and data exchange based on Web Services. 3. In early 2013, based on directions from His Majesty Sultan Qaboos a second wave of whole of business and technology transformation to enhance One Stop Shop further was initiated. 4. In the Second wave there were multiple items attempted and most of the activities are completed currently and some of the remaining items would be achieved by Dec 2015. The main activities were a. Estonian Government Agency which is responsible for the implementation of Business Register of Estonia was engaged to further refine and simply the business process. b. Technology Transformation and Establishment of the first cloud project in Oman. c. Establishment of a full-fledged disaster recovery site for the system with clear business continuity planning. d. Opening up of the Commercial Register data over the portal to improve the transparency. Currently the entire Commercial Register records are easily accessible in multiple ways such as machine to machine integration or through online portal with payment gateway. e. Establishment of the Business Intelligence module to the key decision makers based on the data from the first wave of the project. f. Simplification of the Commercial Registration process and online registration with the support of PKI and Digital signatures. g. Simplification of the Licensing process and establishment of the National License Database and launching of the licensing simulator. The importance of having the license simulator is to give full picture to business community on what is required, how long it will take and how much it will cost for each business activity. h. Establishment of Central Help Desk for all types of queries related to Starting a Business in Oman. i. Establishment of a dedicated eServices Support team to provide support to online channel users and to promote online channel adoption. j. Establishment of the first Annual reporting Taxonomy for the Nation based on XBRL. The annual reporting mandated by Government is to enforce reporting by the Business to Government to help further enhancing the information and statistics to decisions makers. k. Dedicated change management consulting to ensure that the changes are accepted and considering the fact that load of changes that touching OSS officials daily work, government entities work flow and investors. The change covers policy such as enhancing the OSS law, changes to people by bringing a new OSS organization structure and also changes in the procedures such as simplifying the licensing and service delivery, commercial registration processes, etc.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Back in 2006, on day one of the launch there were 6 entities that were part of the OSS project. The entities were • Ministry of Commerce and Industry • Ministry of Regional Municipalities, Environment and Water Resources • Ministry of Manpower • Royal Oman Police • Muscat Municipality • Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry Multi-ministries participation eased the process of starting a business significantly. In the second wave of the project there are close to 15 Government Entities currently part of the system and involved in the overall governance of the system. This is helping in improving the overall accountability of the model and also in simplifying further the licensing requirements. Some of the organisations involved are: 1. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry 2. Royal Oman Police 3. Information Technology Authority 4. Muscat Municipality 5. Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry 6. Capital Markets Authority 7. Central Bank of Oman 8. SANAD offices, Auditors and Lawyers From the private sector, audit firms (PWC and KPMG) contributed to the implementation of this initiative. Private sector contribution helped to optimise the government process and helped in quickly finalising the Annual Reporting and the first version of the National Taxonomy. Banks helped in optimising the process related to starting business and in simplifying complications related to capital requirements. A number of other entities also contributed to the success of this initiative.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The current project is executed at a cost of 5 Million Omani Rials. The Project has been funded based on the eTransformation Initiative of Government of the Sultanate of Oman under the supervision of the Supreme Council of Planning. The human resources team comprises of multi skilled professionals in various areas and domains such as Program Management, Business Consultants, Business Analysts, Legal Experts, Marketing Experts, Procurement and Sourcing experts, Government Licensing regulation experts, Technology Professionals, Training Professionals, etc. The team has spent over 5K Man hours in Brainstorming, discussing, meeting with stakeholders, carrying out change management activities, etc. The team travelled length and breadth of the country spreading the benefits and the message of the project and to ensure alignment and participation of all the stakeholders involved. The technical costs related to the project is primarily related to the customisation of software to meet Oman’s local needs, building awareness to change the mindset of public in using online channels and new innovative solutions such as Digital signatures and PKI, the software license renewal and the managed operations of the system which is outsourced to a vendor for the day to day operations and maintenance. Adopting Cloud computing significantly brought down the technology cost. In addition, the technology rationalisation that was carried out in the project helped the team to bring a savings of over 260K US $ (100K Omani Rials) every year from 2012.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
a. One Single Portal and Place to deal with company registration and licenses. As of now over 200 K companies got registered through the system and from the statistics it is obvious that once the system was in place the amount of company registration improved by 66% on an average compared with the earlier years when the process was handled manually. Previously, less than 4500 companies where created in Oman in a year whereas after the system more than 22 K companies are formed. The system also processed over 2 Million transactions and over 1 million licenses. b. Whole of Government Model setting initiative – this initiative was able to bring together various government entities and to establish the culture of working together. The initiative lead to interconnected government systems thus ensuring improved process. The initiative which started with 6 agencies have grown to a large initiative where 15 agencies are part of the initiative currently and over 29 more agencies are planning to join in an years’ time c. The first project to embrace the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and Digital Signed Certificates and Digital Signatures in Sultanate of Oman and even in whole of GCC for the Business Community. Today from a user perspective the process to start a company that used to take 17 interactions reduced to one. Now with the online portal, an investor can start the company in 15 minutes for certain type of business activities. This is a role model project for the entire GCC region. d. With the assistance of Business Intelligence it is easier to analyse the underlying data and see the trends. Government is able to regulate few sectors based on the information availability on finger tips and also to offer support to the needed sectors. The Data cleansing carried out by integrating helped in cleaning 93% of the incomplete investor data and Establishment of National Business Register completely eradicated the duplicate CR numbers and streamlined the licensing records of the Nation. e. Decentralisations of OSS services to other regions through 700 SANAD offices provide employment and business opportunities to all citizens especially those in the rural regions. This is essential to ensure the growth of enterprises in the rural regions.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
OSS being a National Initiative with multi ministries, private sector and other entities and is regularly monitored in the following manner. Governance – The Steering Committee Meetings Regular review meetings from the multi ministry members represented by H.E Undersecretaries and the Minister of Commerce and Industry. In addition, the following specific sets of tools were created for innovative tracking of the project. a. Decision Control Dashboard: This is a dynamic dashboard which is used to track the progress of the key decisions. b. Decision Templates: The key highlights of the OSS Decision Templates includes an English and Arabic version to ensure correct understanding and acceptability and some key aspects of the required decision such as Current Situation, Recommendations mapping, Best Practices, Impact Analysis (Financial, Legal etc) and Benefits c. Decision Formalization Tracker: Track and formalize the decision in the correct and timely manner. Operational Level The project team are organised as working groups. Working group’s leaders are defined and they take the ownership of their respective working groups. The entire project task management is carried out using Mobile App namely Producteev. Also to facilitate faster communication the team established multiple whatsapp groups. In addition to record all the documentation and the project details the team has established a wiki for the project. a. Project Barometer: The values for which are derived based on opinion poll of the key project members. b. Newsletter: A monthly project bulleting highlighting the key tasks achieved, the progress made and to share transparently the progress of the project to all the stakeholders across whole of government. c. Meetings Tracker: Due to larger number of meetings, brainstorming sessions, the ministries that is visited and various other organisations and collective effort of multiple people who attend these meetings a customised meeting tracker is established to capture the effort and involvement of the various entities. For each of the meeting minute is also prepared. d. Deliverables Mind Map: The Project involves over 1000 deliverables related to the implementation of the projects plus more than 5000 documents. To understand the cross linkages between the documents and to establish the traceability between the documents a document mind map is prepared. e. Weekly Task Dashboard: A graphical dashboard is prepared and reported to give PMO members a holistic view of the tasks for the week and to measure the status of the tasks.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
1. Mindset change - it was quite a challenge to change their mindset to think from Investor view point, rather than from an individual ministry perspective. This was addressed using a dedicated and specialized set of change management consultants who carried out communication, work shop, knowledge sharing workshops, team outings, team building activities, international site study and best practices study visits etc. 2. Commitment and availability of resources from different entities - as the members who are in the project team had their primary job function; it was quite challenging to ensure their commitment to the project. It was addressed by issuing a ministerial decree stating their expected roles and responsibilities and a clear governance structure was defined. 3. Identification of the complex licensing procedures across different government entities and weak regulation - different government entities had different rules, document requirements and in some cases even leading to circular approvals. This was addressed by having a national workforce comprising of 16 members and by addressing the requirements in stages. 4. Decision Making Process - as the project involved various important decisions at various levels and affects many government entities; it was quite challenging to get timely decisions. The same was addressed by having regular steering committee, the assistance of eTransformation Committee, weekly meeting with senior stakeholders. 5. Lack of awareness of the OSS Services – Users awareness of OSS was difficult initially. This was addressed through intensive and extensive marketing campaigns over multiple channels such as social media, TV, Radio and Press. These actions helped in bringing a huge shift in the way the services are used, and currently over 50,000 transactions happen over online channels. 6. The Skill level and capability of resources - getting addressed as a comprehensive training calendar is prepared, people are nominated and trainings are tracked as part of the projects.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
1. One Single Portal and Place to deal with company registrations and licenses. This ensured that effort, time and money for starting the business are reduced drastically. Also it ensured that efficiency of the government improved. Today the process to start a company that used to take 17 interactions has been reduced to just one. Now with the online portal, users can start the company in 15 minutes for certain types of business activities. The impact of the same was measured by analysing the growth in the amount of online transactions compared to over the counter services. 2. Best of Technology and Latest Trends – The system was one of the early adopters of IBM Websphere Platform and the later the first became the first project in Sultanate of Oman and in the regional to build a cloud solution on Open Source Platforms. The solution stability has improved after moving to cloud and system has been available over 99.97% in the past 5 years. The system stability has ensured 24/7 access to government services thus benefiting the public significantly. 3. Whole of Government Model or one Government model setting initiative – This initiative was able to bring together various government entities and to establish the culture of working together. The working together model as one Government helped the public as citizens where able to see one unified view of Government processes related to starting a Business and associated approvals. The initiative which started with 6 agencies working together has grown to 15 agencies working together currently. The agencies have consumed 1.7 Million records in a short span of time and this has helped the public as systems are integrated, thus reducing the administrative burden associated with availing government services. It is also worth highlighting that around 25 other agencies are planning to join as committed in the respective ministry eTransformation initiatives. The impact of the same was measured with the public satisfaction survey and also with the assistance of data exchanged between the systems. 4. The first project to embrace the PKI and Digital Signed Certificates and Digital Signatures in Oman and even in the GCC. The entire process of authentication, authorisation, signatures etc are handled online using PKI smart card and Mobile PKI model. This has benefitted the citizen as they need to just remember only one PIN and their National ID card can be used to transact with the all the Government systems. The system also provides digitally signed certificates and even the system allows the business men to sign the documents electronically. The digital signatures and PKI is supported by eTransaction law and hence it is a legally binding and has legal validity. The impact of the same was measured by using the time taken to carry out the process online and the simplicity in which the services can be availed with the assistance of PKI. 5. Helped Senior Officials and Government as a whole in Better Decision making and assisted in long term planning. With the assistance of Business Intelligence and OSS Dashboards it was easier to analyse the underlying data and see the trends. Government is able to regulate few market sectors based on the information that is available on their fingertips, anywhere at any time. The data cleansing carried out by integrating with the people register of Oman, helped in cleaning 93% of the incomplete investor data and Establishment of National Business Register (NBR) completely eradicated the duplicate CR numbers, data quality issues, streamlined the licensing records of the Nation. This has helped the public in getting faster and seamless services as well as the required support from the Government in areas such as Home Business and also in completing the required transactions with the government faster. The impact of the same is measured using extensive data cleansing and data quality report based on the extensive analysis of the existing data in the NBR and by reduction in the number of data issues.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
This initiative is definitely sustainable and transferable. Currently the model in this project is being used in the other ministry projects and has become a benchmark for all the National level projects implementation. • The initiative is sustainable as there are supporting regulations in place. It is supported by the OSS law. There is a decree that enforces all entities to integrate and cooperate in terms of business registers and to ensure seamless business processes. • It is sustainable and transferrable on an institutional level. It can be replicated in other government entities on the model of the OSS as it has been conceptualized as a sub unit inside the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the plan is to move it outside the ministry to be a separate entity with its own law, organization structure and financial independence. • The initiative that started with 6 entities has now 15 entities connecting and consuming data and in a years’ time another 29 entities are planning to integrate and consume as per the eTransformation initiatives. This is a proof that the concept is scalable. • Different communities of interest are establishing their Single Window Solution in Oman. For example the customs community is establishing a customs integrated solution based on the model of One Stop Shop. • This project is a multi-ministry governance model which has set an example and all the new National initiatives are getting governed in the same model as the One Stop Shop project execution model. • The Technology implementation in the project is 100% transferable and the concepts such as setting up cloud environment have kicked off in Oman based on the model established by this project. Usage of solutions such as PKI, Single Sign On , Digital Signatures etc for which One Stop Shop system set a precedence has created a wave in Oman and all the Ministries are visiting and learning from the experience of One Stop Shop and has initiated a plethora of projects in the Nation.

 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)
a. Support at the Cabinet Level/ Senior Decision Making levels is needed for the execution of such a large scale project involving multi-government organizations. b. Effective Change Management Strategies need to be in place to ensure the success of the project. It should include overall change strategies identifying and addressing the areas that are needed to be influenced and changed as well as tactical plans to ensure that the identified changes are implemented within the required time frames. c. Users wouldn’t start using systems and online channels and constant effort in the form of marketing and awareness campaigns need to be carried out to bring the change in mindset of users. d. Introduction of new concepts and Technologies such as PKI and Digital signatures face resistance from users and constant effort need to be there to convince and to bring trust to the end users to embrace the new offerings. e. Changing mindset of Government entities to work as one Government focusing on the user need and not ministry perspective take considerable effort and support of senior management is quite essential. f. Strong Program Management team is essential to manage such diverse and complex projects which has various dimensions such as Technology, Business Process Simplification, Law and regulation updates, Marketing activities, Training, Change Management, Help Desk, Licensing, Annual Reporting based on XBRL etc. g. Clear and established organization structure with full time resources will help in assigning roles and responsibilities faster. This will assist in Reducing the loss of people moving out of the project for other assignments or resigning. h. Decision making process in large scale multi ministry programs will be slow. Unless and until there is close monitoring and tools to track and identify the bottlenecks, keeping the project under the schedule and cost is going to be challenging. i. The initiative owners and stakeholders need to understand that developing sophisticated IT systems without adequate law and regulations support would not get the desired benefits. j. In the area of change management availability of local experience is crucial. This will play a better role in transforming the process and getting acceptance from people. k. A trend setter, first of its kind implementation in a Nation is bound to face challenges and resistance. As a leader of doing things first, the project team need to be prepared to clear the obstacles on the way and at the same time keep the project on track. A detailed plan and close monitoring of various activities are needed to ensure success of the project as adequate buffer needs to be factored in for clearing the obstacles during the journey. As the OSS project is the first cloud project in the Nation, the first project to embrace open source platform, the first project to embrace PKI, and a bold initiative to simplify the process across ministries there have been considerable challenges. Unless and until the team is prepared to face these challenges and have strategies to overcome such initiatives would not attain the desired results.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Salma Al Burtamani
Title:   Ms.  
Telephone/ Fax:   00968 24166701
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Postal Code:  
City:   Muscat

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