https://dvladigital.blog.gov.uk/2014/06/30/that-whirlwind-called-alpha/

That whirlwind called Alpha

It’s amazing how quickly time flies. What’s even more amazing, is what can be achieved during such a short space of time. I was a bit shocked to find out its been 2 months since my last blog. So please accept my apologies, I’ve been caught up in the whirlwind called Alpha.

For those of you wondering what I’ve been up to since the start of Inception for vehicle enquiries. Well, here goes…

The greatest explorers, Cook, Columbus, Dora (the Explorer) would have loved Inception because that’s what it was all about. Packed full of exploration, which helped create personas of those individuals, companies and organisations that make enquiries against DVLAs vehicle records. With a raft of personas created, it made for some tough decision making about what to take forward into Alpha as a minimum viable product (MVP).

So who came out on top and why. Naturally developing the platform came out as the winner as without a new platform, it would be difficult to build and develop new and improve existing services. So which service did I choose?

DVLAs strategic 3 year plan highlights the need to press forward with one of our Red Tape Challenges and that’s to suppress the issue of a V5C (logbook) for fleet operators. This means only issuing the V5C when they need one, for example when they are ready to sell a vehicle. By removing the V5C (for those who choose to suppress it’s initial issue) our fleet customers will need to have a way to make enquiries against the vehicles contained within their fleet. Seeing as my product is all about ‘the enquiry’, developing a service for our fleet customers seemed like a logical step as it will enable us to suppress the V5C. So, in reality my difficult decision turned out to be not so difficult in the end.

With my focus firmly on developing an enquiry service for fleets, AKA View Vehicle Record for Fleets, I needed to find out more about these user needs. We’ve had some early engagement with some of our larger fleet operators to understand what information is the most important to them. This feedback has helped sketch out the blueprints for developing a proof of concept prototype.

First of all we’ve started to develop the foundation block, the platform. Following that in our 2nd sprint we’ve been able to create an initial basic login screen which has become the gateway to a single vehicle view with a handful of data fields, similar to the current online enquiry service.

Next up in sprint 3, we’ve done something which has never been done before and built some functionality to view multiple vehicle records. We also added some extra data fields which currently aren’t available on the enquiry service and developed some alerts around vehicles due for taxing and vehicles of a certain age - in just 1 sprint!

It’s still early days but there’s loads more to come and I’m so impressed with the effort put in by the team for getting us to this point so quickly (keep up the good work boys and girls I’m very proud of you!).

Due to the variety of companies, vehicle types and amount of vehicles contained in those fleets we’re in the process of getting more feedback and understanding user requirements via a survey which has been sent out to fleet operators associated with DVLA. This feedback will help shape the service further.

I’m really excited and looking forward to getting the prototype up and running so users can have a play about with it and tell us exactly what they think, what works for them, what doesn’t and why. We can then change, adapt, improve and progress with a service that suits user needs. I think it’s going to be tough to please everyone and that’s when the truly difficult decisions are going to be needed as I’ve got such a variety of users with greatly varying business needs. But I’m confident that with their support in the development of this service we can find a way forward.

I’ve still got a couple more sprints left in Alpha and some big challenges ahead. A service standard to meet to get me through Alpha and working towards finding a way for users to securely view all the data they are entitled to access. So no biggies really!

I appear to have turned this blog into an essay, time to set a reminder not to leave it so long next time.

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2 comments

  1. Comment by David Evans posted on

    Natalie, great to see you grabbing all of this and owning it. More power to your elbow. Big, fleet managers may have different expectations from private motorists about what a future service will deliver and look like. If they have.....we have a more complex requirement to deliver and the API will be key. One size need not fit all in the presentation of data.

    • Replies to David Evans>

      Comment by Natalie Morgan posted on

      Thanks David. Your absolutely right, that’s why I’ve got the development of an API in my backlog. Just need to understand those user needs further before its development.