Information and eGovernment Authority

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
In recent years, Bahrain has emerged as one of the strongest champions of eGovernment in the Gulf Region. The Kingdom has a wealth of experience replacing time-consuming paper-based processes with the end-to-end online services customers now expect and demand, thus justifying the countries global leadership in online service delivery. Despite its many advances, handling of complaints in the most appropriate way to ensure the comfort of its customers became a question in the mind of national leadership. Under traditional models, there were no common channels for citizens, residents, businesses and visitors to contact and interact with the government and provide positive feedback for change. Registering a complaint with a government department was a lengthy, confusing and above all fragmented process. Different departments often had highly varied complaint procedures - united only by their dependence on large numbers of forms and complex, time-consuming procedures. In many cases, if the correct official was not available to address the issue, those registering the complaint would have to wait weeks to receive a response or even have to travel to a government body in person to receive their answer. Because the old complaint system was so difficult to navigate, it often alienated key social groups. Business, for example, simply lacked the time to navigate this complex system. Moreover, they were hardly motivated to do so as they had little faith that their feedback would be acted upon. At the same time, the voice of the physically handicapped and elderly was often left unheard as they simply were unable to travel to government offices in person to make complaints. Even when complaints were registered, government departments handled them piecemeal according to their own systems. Some departments were not connected to a complaint management process at all, while those that did used only manual or partly-automated mechanisms to manage submissions. This fragmented and manual process made it virtually impossible for Central Government to evaluate the performance of individual Ministries, let alone receive a holistic view of overall performance as there was no central mechanism for capturing comments and developing insights. At the end of the day, the opportunity to capitalize upon synergies between departments was missed, and thousands of staff hours were spent addressing submissions individually. Citizens were unhappy because they felt the pain of delayed responses, and central government suffered because it was unable to use citizen feedback to generate improvements across the whole of government. In short, the old complaint management approach represented a series of missed opportunities to improve services, monitor performance and ultimately deliver increased customer satisfaction to citizens.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Resolving citizens complaints addressed to public entities in innovative ways, with whole-of-government approach, and building efficiency and effectiveness in both sides

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The solution strategy was developed into a well-coordinated progressive plan focused on a clear end goal – delivering the solution to the customers. Effective People, Process, Technology and Quality processes formed the main pillars of the strategy. To implement the solution, the following were considered to ensure the pillars remained intact and efficient at all times by: -Choosing the right project team with the right experience and energy to deliver a solution of this magnitude -Raising the capacity of ministry users through extensive trainings and continual training methods. -Defining the optimum process to deliver the solution and continuously build on our learning’s. -Utilizing proven technology that already successfully runs our eGovernment Program to prove its worth again. -Giving importance to the quality of the solution to ensure that it provides its service in both positive and adverse scenarios -Improvement never stops. Experience is just a learning curve to improve the solution over time and from all stakeholders. The new system is expressly designed to achieve transformational change in the way Complaint is addressed across the whole of government by deploying a unified front-end Customer Portal for the customers to submit any case. A back-end Government Portal has been developed to monitor a complaint from the moment it is registered through to successful resolution. Key features include: Customer Portal 1. Single Entry Point – Unified national portal allows citizens to submit their complaints about all government services and departments. 2. Anytime, Anywhere Access – Citizens can submit their case to any governmental entity at any time, day or night. 3. End-to-End Complaint Tracking – Citizens are provided with a tracking number that will enable the user to follow the progress of their submission. Government portal 1. Integrated Complaint Management – Back-end platform integration allows all government entities to manage and respond to the registered complaints, enquiries and suggestions without large change management. 2. Automated Complaint Management – Automated process escalates complaints if a response has not been received within the Service Level Agreement (SLA). 3. Performance Dashboard – National Leadership and Government actors can access a highly visual dashboard that displays the performance of the organization on managing complaints against KPIs. 4. Continuous User Training – Comprehensive training to all system users to ensure a highly skilled and highly capable complaint management team in every Ministry. 5. A user-friendly mobile application: customer can log any case within 30 seconds from anywhere and at anytime By deploying these functionalities, the System harmonizes procedures across all government services and departments, and makes it easier than ever before for all social groups within the Kingdom to make their voice heard. Instead of needing patience, perseverance, and time to provide feedback to government, citizens can now register their views with the click of a mouse. Instead of needing to piece together a hodge-podge of sporadic data in order to understand and improve the way in which government is working, leaders can now use an overarching view to improve real-time performance across the whole of government.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The new system uses a range of innovative technologies and approaches to advance whole of government operations: Technical Innovation: • Predictive Analytics: Automatically identifies common complaints and flags them to managers for agile and proactive service improvement. • Easy Integration with Existing Services: System provides Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) which enable any government service to seamlessly integrate the portal into their own websites or services. • Simple, User-Friendly and Responsive Interfaces: Customer-facing and back-office functionalities make it as easy as possible to submit, manage and resolve complaints. The Customers can seamlessly open the interface in any device and the responsive design will adjust to the screen size of the device. • Alerts and Escalation: The system is configured to handle alerts and escalation of cases based on predefined SLA for the respective Entities. Thus it ensures the regulation and enforcement of the Process • National Leadership Custom Interface: The solution is developed to serve all strata of users. Therefore, a robust interface was designed to allow national leadership to monitor customer satisfaction and perform custom analysis as and when required. • Easier features in the Mobile App: Utilizing all smartphone features (i.e. photo snapping, address detection, photo gallery, saved customer profile, etc)

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
In response to the challenges of the existing complaint management approach, Information and eGovernment Authority (iGA) has taken serious steps to reform the old, fragmented system through adopting innovative systems and policies. Their response was to create the National Complaints & Suggestions System (referred as Tawasul- meaning communicating in Arabic), a key project under the Kingdom of Bahrain’s eGovernment Strategy (2011-2016). The principal objective of the new system is to create an integrated, fully automated complaint and feedback solution that can be utilized across all Government entities. In addition, the system to be supported by high-level government policies to regulate the complaint management process. All users of Government services in Bahrain and even users of government services outside Bahrain (eVisa) for example have been affected by the solution.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Phase 1: May – Dec 2013 Idea generation and Planning – Brainstorming and planning of the initiative by iGA team with the consultation of all key stakeholders to create a detailed vision for the finished Complaint Management System. Process Design – Conducting a detailed design of the process from the perspective of integrating the system across the whole of government. Technical Design & Development – Development work to deliver the finished system. In addition to the technical design of both the systems back-end and front-end interfaces, the phase deployed a prototype of the solution that was subjected to numerous rounds of technical testing to ensure that functionality was correctly working. Testing & Training – Pilot version of Complaint Management system went live for iGA eServices. The idea was expanded in coordination with Bahrain Center for Excellence (under prime Minister office) and the another Ministry has been added to the system (Ministry of Health for testing by both customer and government actors to ensure that all functionality was correctly working and met both user and technical requirements. Finally, the phase ensured that continuous training was implemented among staff to build their capacity to use the system effectively. Monitoring and Enhance – Feedback from the initial set of entities and identified opportunities for improvement analyzed. Carefully devised plans were created to upgrade the functionalities of the system. Idea diffusion and Expansion – After analyzing the feedback points and improvement opportunities, and with the support from First Deputy Prime Minister Office and Bahrain Center for Excellence, all service oriented government entities have been added to the system with a clear process, training, and policies to ensure the optimum performance by all entities in dealing with their cases in Tawasul. Each entity in Tawasul will have their own platform, users, and cases to be handled by their own team. However, there is a leadership dashboard available with the First Deputy Prime Minister Office highlighting the overall performance of government entities in dealing with customer complaints. Phase 2: Jan 2014 – Dec 2015 The all-new and revamped system has been launch by the Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister on January 2014 urging citizens and residents to communicate with the government through Tawasul. The system has been promoted vastly by iGA Marketing & Communication Directorate though all integrated communications channels as well as through cross marketing via government entities involved in Tawasul. Phase 3: Jan 2016 – Present More improvement in the back-end and front end - Throughout the experience of all users in Tawasul from all government entities, and from the feedback received from customers using Tawasul, another master plan of improvements and developments has been implemented reflecting the learning curve from phase 2. More facilities has been created for the users at the back end and the customer can re-open the case from his side if the solution is not sufficient. Development of a very user-friendly and innovative Mobile Application – The application idea been developed to give more convenience and timeliness to the citizens and residents to use Tawasul on-the-go any-time and anywhere. In addition to the case submission within 30 seconds, and utilizing all smartphone mobile technologies such as saving customer profile, Tawasul mobile app has an innovative feature called ‘Fix-to-Go” that allows the user to snap any public issue (public road fault, water sanitation issue, etc.) and just select one of the icons that describe the issue. The case will automatically be submitted to the responsible entity (with the ability to re-transfer the case internally to another entity) and the coordinates of the address will be generated through the mobile GPS. Tawasul is an in-house project developed by iGA team. The only part of Tawasul that has been outsourced to a specialized company is the front-end design in order to ensure a trendy and user-friendly design is maintained.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
To implement such a transformational system across the whole of government, it was necessary to consult with the full range of internal and external stakeholders to ensure that the system delivered an effective, unified process which could be used across all government departments: (a) NATIONAL LEADERSHIP: •Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister Office: Monitoring and supporting the initiative’s performance and business continuation. •Bahrain Center of excellence: Advisor on the systematic implementation of the solution. •Ministry of Finance: For approval of the project budget (b) Information and eGovernment Authority - Implementation conducted by the following teams: •Service Delivery: Design, Develop and Deploy •Business Process Reengineering: Define and Refine Processes •PMO: Project Administration •Marketing: Portal Design, business owner, communication with all users from all entities •Quality Assurance (QA): Quality management and Change Control •National Contact Center: Complaints Channel and support •Technical Support team: Maintenance (c) Entities part of Tawasul - Customer Care unit in each entity to receive their cases in their task inbox and assign it to the responsible groups in their respective ministry and follow up for solution within the agreed SLA. Total entities 31 public entities.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The Complaint Management Solution ensures that no citizen, business or visitor is excluded from making a simple yet meaningful contribution to the improvement of the Bahraini Government. The anytime, anywhere approach and smart, responsive management system allows a unified, accessible complaint management system to be shared and deployed by all government departments: Collaborative Improvement: The system with its capabilities has helped government departments concentrate on improving their customer relationship management and provision of services. Ministries now feel that “complaints should be perceived as means to improve services”. Further, the shared system promotes collaboration across departmental boundaries by identifying best practices, facilitating shared approaches and making it easier to understand the results in a visual way. Culture Change Management: Users in different departments are fully accustomed with the new services and workflows. Through a successful combination of both direct training and a ‘train the trainer model,’ the system has successfully fostered a culture of continuous learning, development and improvement. The output of the solution is becoming evident in terms of users starting to trust the online submissions of Complaints. Integrated, Cross-Departmental System: The production of a unified system that can be simply and inexpensively deployed for all government departments has been a major success factor for the initiative. Through a scalable, harmonized system Bahrain will be able to achieve significant savings in time, cost and effort across the whole of government. Maintenance and upgrades also become simple and controllable. The implementation of this project allowed the development of a standardized and refined process for handling complaints, enquires and suggestions within individual entities and ultimately across the whole government of Bahrain. Improved Customer Satisfaction: A simple, accessible portal has made it easier for all citizens, businesses and visitors to access consistent, effective complaint management. The improved notification and feedback mechanism for the closure has increased customer interaction and satisfaction. Improvement of Government Services: The Complaint Management System has made ‘smart’ tracking of customer suggestions and identification of the most repeated complaints a reality. This functionality enables Government entities to review their services and apply feedback in order to improve their provision in direct response to customer experiences. A key example of this improvement is the Service Management Group (SMG) in eGovernment who have taken the most frequent complaints and customer feedback to review and improve the services provided by the eGovernment program of Bahrain

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Administrative Challenges: - Stakeholders initially unwilling to provide required inputs to collaborate in the configuration of the system - Delay in approvals for the User Acceptance Testing and for the process flow - Unavailability of critical resources in different entities during implementation Solution: The Service Management Group was created to provide daily status update and empowered to directly interact with top officials of different government entities. Technical Challenges: - ‘Contact Us’ form within the portal gave customers the wrong impression about where to submit complaint - Initial form design was incompatible with some Ministries - Technical costs of adding new Ministries was high - The auto-generated Complaint Management Application screens were not sufficiently user-friendly or customizable - Initial Dashboard and KPIs Templates did not serve management requirements Solution: A process study was conducted to create common workflow satisfying the majority of scenarios. A separate virtual portal with branding was created to help customers identify the solution easily. Customer Challenges: - Too many numbers/channels for the customers to choose from. They are different for each Ministry. - Customers found it difficult to track the status of their requests - Limited service window and service availability - Few communication channels Solution: A common portal was designed and implemented for the whole of government to be the single interface for all the Ministries in Bahrain. Regulatory Challenges: - No unified system for government complaints, suggestions, and enquiries - No standardized processes and lack of automation - Different departments handle common complaints, suggestions, and enquiries independently - No proper documentation for the request handling cycle Solution: Customizable dashboards were delivered to every department and Central Government to facilitate a joined-up overview of system performance across the whole of government.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The Complaint Management System is designed to harmonize the process of making, managing and resolving a complaint across the whole of the government. The System has enabled government entities to process 94 % (aggregate across all the entities) of their cases with in the SLA. During the first year, Tawasul received 3672 cases and 40% of them were resolved within SLA. Due to the extensive and innovative marketing and awareness activities, an thanks to the continuous user-generated improvements the number of complaints received in the system has increased by 85% in the second year and third year with an SLA improved to 94% (cases resolved within SLA). The responsiveness and resolution was also monitored by FDPM office in order to ensure proper solution is obtained. The benefits of the system are significant for both the complainer and the government: Benefits to Complainant: • Simple to Find: Customers now have a one-stop government through which to raise a complaint/enquiry/suggestion across different ministries which helps improve customer service levels • Greater Social Inclusion: The simple, anytime accessible system has made it easier for vulnerable communities including the less-abled and elderly to register a complaint from the comfort of their home. • Improved Service: Request handling time has been significantly reduced by having a single system properly and quickly handling and managing the request. At present over 285 complaints have been successfully resolved with 82% originating with citizens. • Anytime, Anywhere Access: Customers can submit requests 24 hours a day through different communication channels like the web portal/call center/newspaper and radio/Facebook and Twitter • Full Transparency: Customers have the chance to provide feedback on the request resolution as well as receive status updates throughout the request lifecycle Benefits to Government: • Collaboration Across Departments: The system provides the capability for government departments to work together to better address complaints and replicate best practices. • Standardized Processes: Standardizing the process of receiving complaints, enquiries, and suggestions across the different ministries and the re-routing of those requests for quicker resolution • Reduced Work Load: The system reduces workload by properly assigning complaints, enquiries, and suggestions to the concerned entity • Improved Complaint Handling: Through the continuous training of staff members, the system has delivered more effective management of requests from end-to-end • Enhanced Reporting: Real time data has allowed government leadership to get a holistic perspective of performance and compile accurate reports with ease • Increased Efficiency: Properly assigning complaints to the right department/section ensures that employees have more time to focus on resolving the complaints

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Citizens and residents are not considered only people we serve. But they are key partners in the national development agenda of Bahrain. Therefore, Tawasul is attending to public complaints transparently without looking into the complainer's nationality, social status, and other measures. It deals with the case as public case and once the case has breached SLA, it will automatically be escalated to the Minister and First Deputy Prime Minister office and the public agent is accountable to justify the delay and accelerate case resolution. The key objective here not only to build efficiency but effectiveness and integrity to achieve citizen and resident satisfaction on Government services. Tawasul is issuing auto reports to the Ministers and FDPM with the performance of each and every entity and the complainer has a track number where he can explicitly see the status of the complaint. Moreover, there is a quarterly presentation with the Crown Prince on the progress and performance of Tawasul entities and there is an annual Award for the best 3 performing entities presented by the Prime Minister and Crown Prince during the Government Summit.

 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)
As mentioned in the integrity part, Tawasul is attending to public complaints regardless the social status and profile of the complainer's. Moreover, they system and its processes will allow the women to be able and empowered to interact with government and hold government accountable especially in a society where women feel inconvenient to deal with crowded public entities. Similarly, poor and decent people are enabled to remove any boundaries to interact with government through Tawasul and hold government accountable. Eventually, all cases breached SLA are reported through the system and solution are provided to them regardless of any measures.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Information and eGovernment Authority
Institution Type:   Local Government  
Contact Person:   Ali Darwish
Title:   Chief, Customer Care  
Telephone/ Fax:  
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   adarwish@iga.gov.bh  
Address:   P.O. Box 75533
Postal Code:  

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