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Is it a plan? Is it a roadmap? No, it’s a tree!

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: DVLA Digital Services

DVLA is committed to moving away from its traditional infrastructure and services onto a new open standards platform. We started the journey on the Vehicle Excise Duty reform project and we’re already making great progress.

Planning technical and service redesign

But how do we turn that strategic vision into a reality? How do we combine complex technical redesign with transformational service redesign? The answer: with difficulty!

Several months ago, as a group of service managers we met with our colleagues from technical architecture and started to map out how we would do this.

We started with a set of technology and service principles. We asked: what did we want to achieve, and what were our guiding principles? We came up with a vision of what was needed from a technological and service viewpoint, taking into consideration our future IT strategy.


It was a great start but the finished view looked as if it had come straight out of a Gantt chart or project plan, so we went back to the drawing board. We decided that we needed to review user and business needs. We gathered user research from the last few years and engaged with people from different areas of DVLA.

The results showed that both user and business needs are similar and both have shared ideas of what DVLA should be doing and how. Both see us as being an agency that can:

  • provide simple and efficient services
  • offer multi-channel services (putting the user in control of how they interact with us)
  • offer fast turnaround times

Using this insight we developed user journeys and service outcomes. The main question was how could technology deliver this transformation? On its own, it simply cannot. It needs customer facing areas to understand the potential, support from policy and strategy, and the delivery capability to turn it into reality.

The tree

Our other challenge was how do we communicate a technology and service transformation in a straightforward way? We started with the end in mind and reminded ourselves of user outcomes, challenges and technology requirements. This allowed us to develop the ‘roots’ of the project (the technology that would shape all future services).

We then looked at all of the common elements, services and platforms that hold all of the services together - creating the ‘trunk’ of the tree.

Diagram of project tree

We imagined how the services would grow and develop, referring to these as the ‘branches’ coming out of the main body.  We visualised how they would evolve and eventually lead the move away from our usual infrastructure.


This process taught us that creating a perfect plan for a transformation this big is unrealistic.  We realised that we needed a flexible attitude ready to try things, and to learn from mistakes. This is the start of a new way of working by testing, failing, changing and trying again.

We now have a roadmap and a set of outcomes we can work towards and will continue using this agile method of working during the next phase of our work - making it happen. Keep an eye out for future updates.

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  1. Comment by roy harrington posted on

    Being a simple motorist of advanced years I am afraid you have completely lost me, I'm sure you had a good time and it's a literary and intellectual masterpiece, the end of which completely eludes me.

    • Replies to roy harrington>

      Comment by Rohan Gye posted on

      Hi Roy

      Our goals include:
      -Delivering simple to use digital services
      -Reducing burden for customers e.g. Reliance on paper documents
      - Improving turn around times
      - Bringing our IT systems up to date
      - Maintaining accurate driver and vehicle records

      The roadmap helps us to plan how we will do that.

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. Comment by Mike Walling posted on

    It would be interesting to know your end point, when you wish to get there, what resources you have and what budget limitations there are. Who is the leader and what is their driver. I've spent a whole lifetime in project/business management and as you correctly say it's all about the 'SOR' Statement Of Requirements. Change is all important, stagnation must be avoided and a basic route map should be published.

  3. Comment by Brian Knight posted on

    Why not start at the end with what you want to achieve then work backwards on the steps to achieve your aims.

  4. Comment by T. Green posted on

    Why dont you send any communication in language that the average person can understand not in commercial jargon that people dont understand

  5. Comment by P Pleaden posted on

    Why is it written in gobbledegook language

  6. Comment by Owen Branley posted on

    I'm a silver surfer that likes user friendly quick scans using keyword searches that work. Thank you.

  7. Comment by Mike posted on

    A lot of words meaning NOTHING. Everyone is a customer and everyone has customers. Do you provide what customers need NOT WHAT YOU THINK THEY NEED. Invest in a good CCQ course COMPLETE CUSTOMER QUALITY. Are you providing what your customer Requires?? If you received the information you produce would you be satisfied?
    Are you satisfied, as a customer, with information you actually need to function so your customer is satisfied?

    • Replies to Mike>

      Comment by Rohan Gye posted on

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your comment.

      DVLA develops all of its services based on what our users need. We undertake extensive user testing of all our services with customers in a range of methods and locations including DVLA’s own UX Lab. The popularity of our digital services is testament to the amount of effort that goes into user testing.

      • Replies to Rohan Gye>

        Comment by Mike posted on

        Rohan PLEASE READ previous comments. You all must have a Masters degree in Advanced Gobbledygook and the Supply of Utter confusion. The only words of any wisdom and meaning are those of the folk who take the trouble of trying to be helpful, all to no avail.

  8. Comment by C Wheeler posted on

    It seems to me that DVLA is going the same way as DVSA. Both appear to be staffed by people who are completely detached from the public they serve and are just interested in using gobbledygook to
    look important.

  9. Comment by N Richardson posted on

    can I obtain an English translation anywhere? From an interpretation of this twaddle, I can at least ascertain what (or who) should be buried under the bottom of the tree.

  10. Comment by j Addison posted on

    Fascinating - but what and when?

  11. Comment by John posted on

    I agree with previous comments - keep it simple please otherwise this nonsense is not worth reading !