The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is an Executive Agency of the
Department for Transport (DfT). DVLA is responsible for maintaining over 45 million
driver records and over 38 million vehicle records and collects over £6 billion a year in
The goal of the organisation is to get the right drivers and vehicles taxed and on the
road as simply, safely and efficiently as possible for the public.
The strategic objectives of the organisation are1
Simpler licensing – simplify our policies and technology landscape to improve
New opportunities – use our assets to grow new revenue, efficiency and
opportunities across government
Excellent services – build seamless, lean, digital services that exceed expectations
with more cost effective channels, recognising and responding to different
The best of DVLA – develop our capabilities as a centre of excellence, building a
unique culture which is commercial, confident and focused on our customers
The Agency employs almost 5000 people and is located in Swansea.
The road to successful
The transformation challenge
Over the past 15 years the agency has transformed the way it delivers its business. More
and more of the annual £100m customer interactions per year take place online, with
over 80% of activity conducted in this way.
To enable this DVLA has been keen to ensure that the digital solutions it provides are as
effective and user-friendly as possible, with the ultimate aim of making their services
‘Simpler, Better and Safer’.
This forms part of the Government’s wider ‘Transformation Programme’2
which aims to
build digital services that are based on the needs of the users, not the needs of the
government. The objective of the Transformation Programme is to make 25 major
services, across eight departments, digital by default.
Becoming a digital organisation of the future
To work towards this the DVLA needed to change the way it delivered IT. For the past 22
years the DVLA has relied on a third party IT partner to provide and support its IT
services. 12 of those years were covered by the Partners Achieving Change Together
(PACT) contract - an outsourced IT approach.
This outsourced model limited what could be achieved by the organisation in certain
timescales because of commercial constraints. The business was keen to embrace a
more agile approach to delivery in line with the strategic objective of becoming a digital
organisation of the future.
The decision was made to move to an internal operating model, which would create
ability within the business and offer greater flexibility to deliver. This disaggregation of
the supply base was intended to offer smaller suppliers opportunities – promoting
collaboration and innovation.
Thus a change programme was initiated to transform IT services within the DVLA, which
included successful exit from the PACT. It was important that during this transition any
risk to live services was minimised: safety over ambition became the mantra.
Key to this transformational change has been the robust guidance and rigorous
assurance provided by the benefits assurance team.
The team works with the individual business areas to ensure that benefits are at the
forefront of every project and programme. Through proactive stakeholder engagement
and benefits workshops, the team encourages benefits to be identified and clearly
understood from the start.
Suzanne Richards, Benefits Realisation Assurance Manager, believes that benefits should
be clearly identified, defined and measurable and considered upfront:
‘Before any change is undertaken it should be clear as to what the
benefits are and whether they justify the expense and effort required
for their delivery’.
For the PACT Exit Programme, costs and benefits for the initiative were derived through
consultation with work stream leads who in turn engaged with Information Technology
Division (ITD) capability managers.
Identifying and assuring benefits
The project aimed to achieve savings of around £70m on the re-tendering and around
, whilst at the same time providing the agility to respond to user
requirements. Clearly cost reduction and efficiency were key drivers for PACT Exit.
However, there were other benefits such as creating IT capability made up of highly
skilled people from DVLA and the local area, alongside bringing skills and job roles
in-house. The intention was to safeguard jobs in DVLA and the Swansea area, creating
new roles and opportunities for staff and improving the working environment.
The ‘dis-benefits’ also needed to be considered: the costs of novating PACT contracts,
the PACT services transition beyond exit, the new IT contracts procured and the SME
By adopting a bottom up approach the benefits assurance team were able to establish
credible cost and benefit models to feed into the business case, including supporting
Rob Sweby, benefit analytical assurance manager, promotes quality analysis within the
organisation by following the good practice described in the ‘Aqua Book’4
. All business
cases developed within the organisation are required to include an analytical assurance
statement to ensure the analysis is sufficient to inform the decisions it supports. This is
done by applying the principles of RIGOUR (see Figure 1).
HM Treasury (2015) The Aqua Book: guidance on producing quality analysis for government
Suzanne Richards (bottom left) and the DVLA Benefits Assurance Team
Through working with the business areas, sources of uncertainty within programmes
and constituent projects can be more effectively identified. A confidence level of low,
medium or high is assigned to all benefits as they are forecast. These uncertainties are
then tracked and managed throughout delivery.
Owning and delivering benefits
The benefits assurance team encourages business areas/projects to take ownership and
commit to identifying benefits and their realisation.
Business change managers ensure effective engagement from the agency. They have a
key responsibility for profiling the benefits, including metrics assumptions and
forecasts, and providing a view on risks and benefits in readiness reporting.
Establishing ownership for the benefits within the PACT initiative was essential. Whilst
work stream leads are the delivery mechanism for the project, the vast majority of
benefits will impact ITD budgets. Therefore ownership resides with the chief technology
officer with capability leads expected to take ownership as the new IT service delivery
model is embedded into business as usual.
The benefits team emphasise the importance of tracking, monitoring and reporting on
benefits to understand whether the desired outcome is achieved.
Cherrie John, benefits assurance manager support, is responsible for collating a monthly
benefits scorecard which includes aggregated management information from across all
business areas. Cherrie describes how ‘the benefits assurance team discuss variances
with business areas and the scorecard is reported up to the executive team, providing
key information to enable the proactive management of benefits across the portfolio’.
Figure 1: RIGOUR in analytical assurance
Another fundamental process which has been put in place by the benefits assurance
team are robust reviews after the programme/project has been implemented. Thus
benefits are managed throughout the lifecycle of the programme – from discovery to
post implementation review (see Figure 2). Post Implementation Reviews are fed into the
Benefits Management Framework, supporting continuous improvement within the
The PACT Exit Outline Business Case Investment was approved in March 2015.
Subsequently the PACT contract came to an end on 12 September 2015. DVLA became
the first government department to exit such a large outsourced contract with a single
supplier, taking on sole commercial responsibility and bringing IT in-house.
Critical to achieving this was effective and ongoing engagement – ensuring people felt
involved in the change process.
Whilst the project has been a success and cost reductions and increased efficiency are
already starting to be achieved, the real benefits are yet to come. The new operation
model provides a ‘platform for the future’ allowing IT enabled transformation of the
organisation. It allows DVLA to become a truly modern, agile organisation, empowered
to improve services to users quickly and cost-effectively5
As DVLA continues on its road to transformation, benefits will be the driver of change.
Figure 2: Managing Benefits across the Lifecycle
Benefits should be clearly identified, defined and measurable.
Before any change is undertaken it should be clear as to what the benefits are
and whether they justify the expense and effort required for their delivery;
Benefits need to linked to strategic objectives;
Business areas/projects take ownership and are committed to identifying benefits
and their realisation;
Assumptions should undergo appropriate analytical assurance;
Benefits must be tracked and recorded and properly recognised.
The contents of this document have been prepared by the APM Benefits Management SIG and do not necessarily
represent the views of APM.