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The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is an Executive Agency of the Department for Transport (DfT).
Our goal is to get the right drivers and vehicles taxed and on the road as simply, safely and efficiently for the public as possible.
As with other agencies across government we have seen our customer behaviour and the way we offer our services change significantly over the last decade. Customers know what they want – modern processes which allow increased flexibility in the way services are delivered.
Why Create a Cross Government Casework Hack?
But not forgetting the faces behind these services, how do we actually create a modern and flexible environment for our staff to develop such wonderful choice for our customers?
As Communication and Engagement Manager for the large majority of our operational area (over 3,000 staff), I meet regularly with staff to make sure I know what the feeling is around the different areas. Listening to the ‘Employee voice’ is critical to informing the decisions we make as communicators. But when so many feel that “change happens to them” and they do not always feel “listened” to, how do we encourage more of our employees, (those who are best placed to come up with new ideas) to solve some of the re-occurring problems we have across casework? A ‘Casework Hack’ that’s how.
Not your standard hack where the outcomes are all based on digital solutions, this hack needed to move with the times – it needed to have the flexibility of digital, human and physical outcomes in order to take into account the complexities of an operational area. And so the ‘Casework Hack’ was born.
Always being ones to ‘share the love’, actively encouraging cross Government working, what started as an internal hack then quickly morphed into the first ever cross Government Hack with a whole host of agencies and organisations eager to be part of it.. Now we were talking, not only was the event going to create a platform for innovative problem solving by harnessing great ideas from our employees, it was also going to be a great opportunity for us to connect with communities of practice to promote knowledge sharing and collaboration.
A team of volunteers from all areas of the agency was put together-fast forward 3 months, 9 organisations, 20 ipads, a catering budget (and a few more grey hairs) and the stage was set for the big two days.
Pitching to the Hack Panel
The buzz throughout the 2 days was electric and the tension palpable as the teams pitched their ideas to the judging panel. The passion and care on display from each of the teams was obvious for everyone to see as the 6 teams competitively pitched their ideas to the panel which included Tony Ackroyd, Director DVLA Operations & Customer Service, David Crossman Engage for Success and Phillipa Davies FYI Network Editor
David commented, “…people’s passion and enthusiasm shone through and the quality of the work produced meant that judging the results was never going to be easy…. the hack itself proved to be a great way to energise and engage staff and drive up customer service. In the end everyone was a winner.”
‘Engaging managers’- in order to gain their support for such events is a critical mark of success. It was great to see our senior managers including Oliver Morley, our CEO dip in and out of the event to be part of what was unfolding..
Following in the footsteps of our past Hack’s and TEDxDVLA, my senior management team were receptive to supporting a different approach and it was empowering to be trusted us a team to manage the event.
The aim of the hack was to produce simple, workable concepts that demonstrated joined up thinking across government, the teams were asked to look at 3 elements relating to the casework problems – human, physical and digital.
Over 10 agencies were represented at the hack and it was great to see the teams gel so quickly. Ceri Witchard, Director of Policy, Companies House, “Our staff loved the opportunity to work with/meet people from other organisations who are tackling similar issues and have the chance to learn different approaches and to collaborate.”
Intellectual Property Office, “it was great to meet new people and expand networks for future contact, we’ll be arranging CH and DVLA visits in the new year to see and share approaches on case working, general team approaches, quality etc”
The teams had an exercise to build personas. This activity really had the teams engaged and the noise levels hit the roof! Everyone really enjoyed the session and it helped keep everyone focussed on the customer journey and experience and how they were also linked to the business priorities and strategic direction of the agencies involved- its strategic narrative!
Everyone was encouraged to join the conversation on Twitter via #dvlaxgovhack. We had a live feed at the event which was great to see and in just 2 days the hack generated approximately 80000 tweets, with everyone sharing their learning and expressing their feelings toward the event- wow!
Integrity: As well as the winning team’s solution our Executive Team has committed to supporting the exploration and implementation of another of the solutions put forward.
The on-going legacy from the hack is that work is continuing to implement the ideas that staff have generated, not only for the DVLA but also the other agencies took part. The feedback and response to the hack has been tremendous, it has been great to be involved in something so energetic, creative and have lots of fun in the process!
Jonathan Matthews (DVLA Casework Hack organiser)
“It was pleasing to hear that the event set the benchmark for across government hackathons by bringing together so many different organisations to engage, form teams and identify solutions together. We now intend to use the process to action plan our CSPS engagement results and look forward to sharing the learning with Engage for Success”
On top of everyone’s “day job” the planning and organising of the event was a challenge- enlist a team of motivated, enthusiastic individuals to help deliver.
The team managing the event were spread out across different business areas -to ensure we were all kept updated we used Trello.
This tool proved really useful and we all downloaded to our phones. At weekly meetings we allocated owners to tasks and ensured our board was updated so that we could all get involved and check all was on track.
Benefits to the Organisation
Positive feedback from our staff and the agencies involved evidenced that the event was engaging, provided an opportunity for all to get involved. The hack was a new concept that encouraged everyone to come up with ideas in a safe environment, see instant results and proved to be a great networking opportunity.
Following the success of the hack we are planning another hack in January 2017 to look at our CSPS results and plan our engagement activities.
- Gain buy in from your directors
- Clear objectives and expectations for the event.
- Create an agenda for each day
- Once teams are formed ask them to appoint a leader
- Break for team building exercises to keep energy levels high
- Sufficient support- we ensured we had SME support including IT, for each team
Who Was Involved?
- Swansea Council
- Companies House
- Amazon Web Services
- Swansea University
- Engage for Success
- NHS Direct