Winning User Experience Project of the Year with the Department for Transport

Principal Consultant Lucille Harvey explains why collecting an award at this year’s BCS & Computing UK IT Industry Awards was a proud moment. 

I love this photo! I was at Evolution in Battersea at (and I heard this many times) “The Oscars for the IT industry!”, standing next to comedian Ellie Taylor our host for the evening. In front of a band playing cool introduction music. Without my eyes shut. That experience validated months and months of hard work for me and the team. It was a proud moment. And I’ll tell you why. 

User Experience (UX) Project of the Year 

The award that I am holding was, and I quote, “Awarded to a public or private sector entrant for the most outstanding user engagement project that remodels client relations and brand recognition as well as projects where the rationale is the distribution or management of content. The determination will be made based on the user experience achievements and not the technology per se.” 

The road to Battersea

Let’s re-wind to April 2021. I had just joined Triad, and along with the amazingly talented Jenny Lardh, I was tasked with establishing a User Experience function with Triad. My first client project was with the Department for Transport. And it couldn’t have been more challenging. 

The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation is a complex piece of legislation designed to deliver reductions in greenhouse gas by incentivising biofuel production. Worth £1.9 billion to the industry, it’s essential to the UK’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

We had to re-design the operating system and meet three goals:

1.     Make the process more efficient.

2.     Create a better user experience for fuel suppliers.

3.     Help the administrators ensure compliance. 

This daunting task was complicated by a small user group, tricky legislation, and a legacy system that had outlived its original purpose but which users had grown used to. Halfway through the project, the sponsor retired while we delivered his vision. New sponsors came in with new ideas, and we were in danger of delivering something that didn’t fit the new sponsor’s vision.

Having tried the traditional approach (working in sprints using the Agile scrum framework) without the success we wanted, we moved to a team-centred process that concentrated our processes around ourselves, our strengths, weaknesses, and needs. It changed the way we functioned as a team. And it exceeded client expectations, on time and to budget. 

Handy Andy Robertson!

We were lucky enough to work with the product owner, Andy Robertson, who knew the old system like the back of his hand. Andy quickly recognised all the gains we were trying to incorporate into the user experience of the new system. In fact, he was kind enough to tell the judges that “I don’t see how a project could work without Triad’s user researcher / UX role, acting as the translator between the customer and the technical development work… It’s a monumental change in mindset for all of us.” Thank you, Andy!

The final three 

Andy and I worked together to re-tell our story on an entry for the BCS & Computing UK IT Industry Awards. If you have done this exercise, then you will know that writing an award entry is a brilliant way of reflecting on the highs and lows of a project. We were able to step back and see the project from a different perspective. We argued that user experience must be front and centre of this important new system. It worked because we were shortlisted against two other businesses and had a calendar invite to meet the judging panel. 

On the day of the finalist’s interviews, Andy was once again next to me (albeit on Zoom), being interviewed by the judging panel for 30 minutes. Time flew. But the preparation had been fun. It was like the old days. We were prepared. Andy had thoroughly reviewed our slides and was proactive in changing and tweaking them. We held a mock interview presentation which had gone well, but left both of us finding room for improvement. And when the judges interview ended, we knew we had done the best we could. 

Evolution. A proud moment

This brings me to that night at Evolution, in Battersea Park. Unfortunately, Andy wasn’t able to join me that evening. When Ellie Taylor announced, “The winners of User Experience Project of the Year for the UK IT Awards 20203 are Triad Group Plc and the Department for Transport”, I had to do the long walk up to the stage on my own. Ellie and I had enough time for a quick photo before she dashed off to announce the next category. There was, unfortunately, no time for an impromptu speech to thank the cast of many at the DfT and Triad for delivering something awesome. So, thank you, “Team RTFO”. This one’s for you!

We hope that you have found this blog useful. If you are interested in UX or have a question for the Triad UX team, please get in touch.