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DVLA sets three-year target for IT changes

28/06/17

Digital strategy also includes ambitions for efficiency savings and new priorities in spending

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has set itself a target to move off the majority of its legacy IT systems within three years, to achieve 40% efficiency savings and to direct more of the relevant spending to change rather than ‘keeping the lights on’.

Detail from report cover; hand pointing at post-it notes on boardIt has outlined the ambitions as among the key drivers in its new Digital Strategy, along with promises to protect people’s personal data and to support technology convergence with the Department for Transport’s (DfT) family of agencies.

Dave Perry, DVLA chief technology officer, said: “Our aim is to become a hub for digital motoring. We are transforming our IT estate to deliver our digital transformation ambitions and create the best online services for customers.

“Our services are at the forefront of technology and our organisation design will be optimised to deliver migration from our legacy IT platforms. Our IT strategy will ensure we continue to deliver systems that are fit for the digital age in which we live.”

The strategy has been designed to support the agency’s three-year strategic plan, which is aimed at uniting its business and digital efforts.

Replacing monolith

It explains the move partly in terms of making the DVLA more responsive to change, saying that it the legacy estate is monolithic and difficult to scale. The aim is to replace this with a loosely coupled and component based architecture, with a strong preference for commodity IT, including cloud systems.

There is also an emphasis on interoperable open standards, and building systems that can automatically detect and recover from any failure without a manual intervention. This will involve implementing best practice ‘design for availability’ patterns, such as Circuit Breakers, the document says.

Other priorities include building solutions that handle requests in real time – in contrast to the existing batch based processes – and providing standard APIs so that other parts of government and businesses can build new services on top of those provided by DVLA.

It is notable that the agency is not planning a wholesale move to cloud systems but will maintain some on-premise infrastructure; but it also says this will be aligned with the cloud systems and simplified to produce efficiencies.

Best practice

Several features that are now familiar as elements of best practice in IT architecture also appear in the strategy: focusing technology solutions on long term strategic intentions rather than short term aims; keeping it simple where possible; providing solutions that are reusable across the agency; automating processes; providing a ‘single source of truth’ for data; and building in security by design.

Underlying all this is an effort to devote a larger proportion of IT spending to achieving changes rather than more routine priorities.

“Over 75% of our ICT spend is on keeping the lights on,” the document says. “The cost to maintain our systems must be rebalanced to enable change to be delivered whilst meeting cost reduction targets.”

Image: Detail from strategy document cover, DVLA

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