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What it's like being a Senior Digital Developer at DVSA

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Shaun Hare, Senior Digital Developer, working at a MacBookHello, and Happy New Year! I'm Shaun Hare, a Senior Digital Developer at DVSA. I joined the agency in September 2017, and want to tell you a little bit about what attracted me to the role, and what I've been working on.

A bit about me

Before coming to the agency, I worked at a university as a Software Development Manager, involved in the full software development lifecycle.

For a number of years, I’ve been involved in the vibrant local tech community both as an attendee and organiser. I’ve run or volunteered at meetups, hackathons, conferences and other events.

I joined DVSA's Digital Services and Technology team in September 2017 as Senior Digital Developer, working on vehicle operator services - including the services to apply for a vehicle operator licence and manage your vehicle operator licence.

These services are vital for transport businesses to be able to run effectively, and they play a big part in us being able to protect you from unsafe drivers and vehicles.

I’m still settling in, but I’m really enjoying the challenges.

Why I joined

It was through a PHP Meetup (a place for like-minded people to exchange ideas and talk about code, architecture, innovation, and open source in general) I run that I heard about the job. Thanks, Stewart Duffey (now a colleague), for that.

When I heard about the agile approach at another event, and the extensive use of Amazon Web Services (AWS) technologies used at DVSA, the decision to join was made.

I’ve admired the way government is now creating and running great digital services for a while now and have based a lot of my approaches on its service guidelines. But until this point, I hadn’t realised there was a local agency implementing those standards while also pushing the transformation using AWS and innovative approaches.

At the interview, I found out that DVSA is looking to increase the number of permanent team members. Knowing I would be working with skilled colleagues as well as building the team up was a very attractive proposition.

So, as you can imagine, I was extremely happy when I was offered the job.

What’s it like day to day

The role has many challenges: working at a large scale, delivering services to the general public and specialist users, meeting those user needs and ensuring that services are available in multiple environments. This is no mean feat - but DVSA certainly has a track record of being able to do it.

In my first few months our development team has produced a major rewrite of a process around operator licence amendments. This change was requested by the users as it allows them to make and see immediate changes to their licence.

But it’s not just about one-off changes, we’ve also been continually improving the system. We’re looking at areas relating to user experience, performance and technical relevance, as well as reviewing some of our processes.

Learning all the time

As well as working on the vehicle operator services, I also mentor junior colleagues. But it’s two-way.

Working with a great team of experienced people, each day I also learn a lot. I like the fact I can be both learning and sharing my knowledge.

It’s very rewarding to come to a solution, because you’ve been able to talk through the concepts and problems and get the viewpoint of a number of the developers. You know that that solution is the right one because you’ve been able to ratify or realign your ideas based on those conversations.

Agile working

A lot of organisations with development teams I've spoken with ‘practice agile’, and indeed I have previously been ‘practicing agile’.

That’s not something we say we do at the agency. Doing agile is what we do.

We use Scrum to deliver value. A lot of my colleagues have more experience in this area than me, so that has been great to be involved in a team where we are continually assessing and providing feedback on our process.

What about the future

I hope the agency continues to engage with the local technical communities where it works. I’ll certainly try and do my part in that.

Promoting involvement in the community wherever I can and ensuring people within the local technical community, and further afield, get to hear about the challenges and achievements we have digitising and transforming our services.

These are the services which will help people stay safe on Britain’s roads.

Personally, I’m looking forward to growing the team. I’m also looking forward to further extending and improving the vehicle operator services, taking advantage of our core technology improvements, new features within AWS and accessing and using new technology to make sure we meet user needs.

Join the team

We're currently looking for talented, digital people to join the team as a Senior Digital Developer, Senior User Researcher, Senior Service Designer and Senior Operations Engineer. If you think you’ve got the skills we need, we’d love to hear from you.

Keep up to date with our work by signing up for email alerts or following DVSA digital on Twitter. You can also follow Shaun on Twitter @sdh100shaun.

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