It’s been around 18 months since the Department for Transport (DfT) published its review of heavy vehicle testing in Great Britain. And, since then we’ve been making progress towards implementing the review’s findings.
You’ll remember that the review concluded the current model of testing is fit for purpose, but that vehicle operators and Authorised Testing Facilities (ATFs) needed more flexibility with test bookings. We agreed to implement the review’s findings and have been steadily working towards delivering these since last year.
Improving what we do is important to us. We want customers to receive the best possible service from DVSA. We have already allowed more ATFs to open and ran some focus groups with ATFs and vehicle operators to look at how we can bring some of the review’s other recommended actions forward. I’d like to talk to you about these in more detail.
Listening to your feedback
I mentioned some of the focus groups we held in my last blog post, but I thought it would be useful to share the thinking we’ve been doing as a result of the feedback from industry. For me, they were key to understanding how people use our services and what they need from them.
You might remember that we heard two clear messages from customers – they want certainty and flexibility. The current process of booking testing capacity and booking tests can be stressful and bureaucratic. I believe there’s a lot we can do to move away from what currently feels like a bartering process for testing capacity.
This has helped us understand that to provide the service vehicle users need, a move away from the current quarterly scheduling process with ATFs would be helpful.
A new approach to scheduling
Our current thinking is to move to a model where we agree normal levels of testing hours/days with an ATF – and then they stay that way until changed, rather than “bidding” every quarter.
An ATF would be able to request changes to that profile – for example, if they are growing their business – and we could agree to a permanent change to that level. Or an ATF could request temporary changes – for example, if there is a peak in local demand. ATFs would still be able to cancel days if they are not required, with charges applying if this is done at short notice.
As always, we would welcome feedback on this proposal in the comments section below. There is still some detail to refine and make sure this will work for ATFs, operators and DVSA.
By taking this approach, we hope to give certainty of what is available (so operators can book ahead with ATFs) but also ensure there is short term flexibility too.
To implement these changes we would also need update the technology we use for ATFs to be able to manage this, and for us to schedule testing time, as well as review the contracts we have with ATFs.
The good news is that we’ll be able to build on the work we’re doing to introduce the Manage Your Vehicle Testing (MYVT) service for ATFs – which some sites are already piloting for us.
Because of the way this is being designed, we’ll be able to extend it in the future from providing account information, to enabling ATFs to request when they want testing time/days and change what they have scheduled.
Making that whole approach more efficient should make it easier for ATFs to deliver the service that vehicle operators and other users need.
This will not happen overnight – but rest assured that we want to reform the booking process next year and implement changes needed to get there.
Recruiting more Vehicle Standards Assessors
We know recruitment is difficult for the entire industry now and that you are facing challenges in the same way that we are.
As well as putting a lot of effort into our apprenticeship programme, we’ve also recruited around 150 vehicle standard assessors (VSAs) in the last 12 months and have more campaigns in the pipeline.
We have, of course, seen some of our colleagues leave the agency and we’re working hard to manage the impact of this. I’m pleased that overall our numbers are up around 4% – but we do know we need this to grow more. The plan now is to get to 516 VSAs by the end of the financial year.
We have a fantastic team of testers already, and I know that they are keen that we deliver flexibility as much as we can.
Better measures for our performance
We’re also improving how we track how well the service is performing.
What I mean by this is using the information we have about the vehicle testing service and sharing it with industry to show a wide range of indicators of how well the service is working.
This allows us to work with our ATF partners and vehicle users to keep improving the service.
Through our industry forums, we have already developed an initial set of service performance indicators. The idea is that we can review these together to understand where the service could be better.
The measures we have are wide ranging. They include user satisfaction (that many of you will have contributed to), data on cancellations and data on levels of appointments committed to.
The idea is that the indicators give the data that helps us work with ATFs and vehicle operators to make the service better.
If you want to find out more about the measures and information we’re sharing, you can ask your Network Business Manager to run through the details.
Developing our MOT history service for heavy vehicles
I want to end by sharing some additional work we’re currently doing to enhance the MOT history service.
If you use this service regularly, you’ll know that for heavy vehicles the data is not available in real-time and does not display a vehicle’s full MOT history. It’s also not possible to access a digital copy of your vehicle’s MOT certificate.
In the new year, we’ll be making changes to provide access to real-time MOT history and digital MOT certificates for heavy vehicles. We’ll share more information on this soon.
Before then, our VSAs will offer to provide an email copy (PDF) of the vehicle’s MOT certificate at the point of test. We would encourage all presenters and operators to ask for email copies of certificates – before the full digital access is made available next year.
I think we’re making good progress on changing the testing service to better meet your needs, as well as extending the range of services that we’re able to offer you.
I’d like to thank our industry partners in helping us get to this stage, as well as the wider industry for your feedback and help in piloting projects like MYVT. I’ll update you further in the new year.