Yesterday, at just after midday, we launched the public beta of View Driving Record on GOV.UK.
With desktops, laptops, tablets and mobiles at the ready, the whole team gathered around the screen waiting eagerly for Dafydd Vaughan, GDS Technical Architect, to give us the nod that the GOV.UK cache had cleared (I never knew it took so long!) and that the start page had been updated.
As we continued our wait, Ryan, our Product Owner, was in contact with a former colleague, in Perth, Australia ready to try the site, and to test our Google Analytics package. Then slowly but surely the number of active users began appearing, then rising, not just in Swansea, or on the west coast of Australia, but all over the country. Then it dawned on Dudley Ashford, our irrepressible Delivery Manager, and I, that after 15 months of hard work this was it, we had delivered the first part of what we had set out to achieve. We better think of some words to say to the gathered crowd!
At that point, I took a minute out, sat down at my desk, and just enjoyed the peace away from the main huddle. Then, the reality set in, not only did I now have a service to manage, but also to improve. I took a glance to my right and saw the now empty beta countdown wall and immediately my thoughts started to turn to what next.
Then back to the launch, and time to start reflecting on DVLA's first digital exemplar. From day one, it's been frenetic, exciting and hard work all at the same time. The team spirit and collaboration shown between DVLA’s team, our suppliers both new and old, GDS colleagues, and all DVLA’s subject matter experts (too many to mention here) who have supported us every step of the way, has shown that you can do things differently, you can break the traditional barriers and you can have fun doing so. Who'd have thought that a photo of cardboard boxes would become symbolic or we would have a 'Wilson' (from the film Castaway) to give us a gauge on how things were going! Yes, 15 months on one project does that to you!
Overall, the team thrived in the open spirit of the digital exemplar, with commitment, openness, and a can do spirit at its heart. It's hard to single out individuals, but Steven, Peter, Tonya, Lukasz and Radomir must have emptied our vending machines and used up all the caffeine in Swansea over the past few weeks as they loaded the data into our new cloud hosted enquiry platform! For most of DVLA’s team this was our first experience of digital service delivery, some new into our roles, or deeply embedded in old ways of working. I hope I speak for everyone when I say, we would never wish to go back.
No time to rest on laurels though as our next Sprint starts today and we begin the process of improving the Beta to make it ready for transition to full live status. And then the small matter of delivering the My Licence service to provide driver data to the insurance industry, swiftly followed by allowing employers, hire car companies and others secure and enhanced access to support abolition of the paper counterpart to the driving licence.
As the counter of visits to the service already ticks towards the 5,000 mark, those thoughts on what to do next are quickly becoming a reality.