Introducing Digital Driving Tests

Public Sector | Digital Transformation

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is the Department for Transport’s executive agency responsible for ensuring that drivers and vehicles may legally use the UK road network. It is currently in the process of transforming itself into becoming a digitally enabled organisation.

BJSS successfully managed and engineered a major programme to digitise its practical driving test, replacing a heavily manual process with a fully automated system that enables improved service delivery, reliability, performance and resilience.

The paper-based driving test report – a system no longer fit for purpose

The practical driving test ensures that candidates can drive confidently and safely in different road and traffic conditions. Nearly two million are carried out every year.

The test, a paper-based process that remained largely unchanged since its introduction in 1934, relied on examiners completing and making hand-written notes on pre-printed forms. Over time, and as the volume of driving tests increased, this paper-based system became a time-consuming, costly and error-prone process. It created extensive service and operational delays with substantial back-office administration burdens becoming common.

Additionally, the process hadn’t fully kept pace with modern practices such as enhanced data protection or integrating with digitised supporting services. For example, the paper-based process made it difficult for examiners to check the identity of test candidates or to ensure that the candidate’s test vehicle had a valid MOT.

The paper-based driving test report, which was no longer fit for purpose, was identified as a key transformation priority.

Delivering the single-biggest change to an 85-year old business process 

As a government organisation, the DVSA is required to follow Government Digital Service (GDS) standards for delivering digital projects. BJSS, through its experience of delivering several high-profile transformation programmes to various public sector organisations, became integral to this engagement.

Through its dedicated GDS Centre of Excellence, BJSS introduced Agile ways of working, digital transformation and user-centric design to ensure full conformity with the GDS Standard.

From the outset, BJSS placed user pain points and needs at the heart of the project. Throughout the engagement, BJSS visited test centres throughout the UK to meet key stakeholders across the test experience – from DVSA staff to test candidates –to understand success and pain points.

A user cohort of driving license examiners with varying levels of digital literacy was also assembled to provide rapid feedback as prototypes were developed and revised. Through a series of ongoing workshops and user interviews, BJSS iteratively developed and improved the solution while ensuring that it always catered towards an audience of varying levels of technical confidence.

This process resulted in the rapid development of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which was improved iteratively towards the delivery of the full production system. Like other DVSA solutions delivered by BJSS, the solution is hosted in the Cloud, allowing for greater cost control and the ability to scale the service based on demand.

A fully-digitised practical driving test

The solution replaces the paper-based driving test report and is operated by driving license examiners via a tablet. Crucially, the tablet also provides this frequently mobile workforce, with remote access to other DVSA corporate systems, email and the intranet.

Its user interface has been designed to replicate the previous paper examination form. Examiners conduct their tests in the exact same way as the legacy process – with a consistent and recognisable look and feel – but they capture results electronically instead. These crucial UI decisions reduced the extent of user training required and lowered the resistance towards the new automated process.

The automation ensures that the driving test is carried out objectively and with consistency.

It assists users in accurately completing the form, and it notifies the examiner if they haven’t assessed a critical test component. Additional built-in features ensure the safety of the examiner and the test candidate. It doesn’t send push notifications, for example, when it detects the vehicle is in motion, thereby preventing distraction.

The solution provides an automatic pass / fail result at the end of the test, sends overviews to the candidate, and orders the production of the driving license card from the DVLA. Test summaries can also be sent immediately to the candidate via e-mail or post, reducing fraud and removing the risk of reports becoming lost in back-office environments.

Benefits

The new solution is the most significant change to the driving test process since it was introduced in 1934.

Through BJSS’ understanding of GDS standards, and by adopting a user-centric approach to service design from the outset, the DVSA has launched a digital driving test capture process that has benefited from a smooth transition, been accepted by users and has not created a large training burden. It is fully integrated with other DVSA and DVLA services and provides a fully-connected environment to aid examiners with their day-to-day work.

Driving test results are captured with greater accuracy and speed. This saves the examiner time, freeing them up to carry out more tests, resulting in improved revenues for the DVSA and a reduction in test waiting time for candidates.

The new process improves data protection and agency GDPR-compliance. The risk of forms being lost or accessible by non-authorised staff has been reduced. Candidate feedback is provided digitally, and there is no separate ordering requirement for the DVLA to issue licenses.

Throughout the engagement, BJSS provided Agile and digital coaching to the DVSA service operations team. This, combined with a solution that is hosted in the Cloud, has enabled the DVSA to rapidly improve, scale and improve the live service across the UK.

As a result of this project, examiners are now more enabled, and crucially, it contributes towards making Britain’s roads safer.