NH preps agile, off-the-shelf solution for the DMV
- By Stephanie Kanowitz
- May 01, 2015
Descriptions of the Department of Motor Vehicles don’t usually include words like “speed” and “efficient technology.” But an IT upgrade for the driver’s license program at New Hampshire’s DMV could change that thinking and serve as a model for other agencies nationwide.
At least in part, that’s because the state opted to go with a commercial solution rather than build a custom-made replacement for its aging system. The New Hampshire DMV is using the agile development approach in working with Tech Mahindra, an Indian systems integrator, to build the new Motor Vehicle Enterprise System (MOVES) in 22 months. MOVES is built on top of Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM, or customer relationship management, platform, which the agency has been using since 2011.
MOVES will digitally manage all driver licenses, financials, financial responsibility, hearings, inventory, dealers and inspection stations. It also integrates with federal and state justice systems and the state’s financial system, and it automates many processes.
“The entire country is watching New Hampshire right now to see how our progress is going and our modernization effort,” said Jeff Oberdank, supervisor of the Driver Licensing Bureau at DMV.
“There isn’t a lot of custom coding [or] a lot of custom building that has to be done,” Oberdank said, and no new equipment is needed. “We have one of those [legacy] systems that we don’t have anybody left to work on, so what we really wanted to do was go with something that is upgradeable.”
The tough-to-support system to which Oberdank is referring is an IBM mainframe that was installed in 1983 and that DMV is still using while MOVES continues toward launch. In fact, he said, MOVES already offered a glimpse at its effectiveness when Oberdank’s team was working to implement a new medical card program mandated last May by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Under it, commercially licensed drivers must submit their medical certificates to prove are they are fit to drive commercial vehicles.
Using the existing system, DMV frontline counter staff manually entered the certificate information into the mainframe so that it could be directed to a federal system that makes the data is available to police roadside.
“We sat with our mainframe programmers, and it took us from conception to rollout and testing about six months for this end of production,” Oberdank said.
Then the new team took a stab at it. “It took Tech Mahindra about two weeks to build it,” he said.
MOVES captured the details of the medical certificate information and made it valid for 24 months. When a driver applies for or renews a commercial driver’s license, DMV can refer to MOVES to check the validity of the certificate before issuing a license.
Eventually this functionality will be extended so that the DMC can receive the certificates electronically from medical examiners.
Tech Mahindra worked closely with Microsoft in developing the Dynamics CRM-based MOVES solution. The highly configurable system, specially designed for motor vehicle departments, also will enable customer service, compliance checks, performance measures and fraud prevention mechanisms.
Securing information is another top priority for the agency, Oberdank said. MOVES uses the security tools already built into the core Microsoft package.
That kind of readily available technology is a major differentiator in this project, said Arvind Malhotra, senior vice president at Tech Mahindra. Another is agility.
According to Malhotra, many of the legacy DMV systems were built from custom software, in which complex projects to take on a life of their own. And these projects can be prone to failure, because “you wait 36 months and you really don’t know what you’re getting at the end,” he said.
The state awarded the $7.8 million contract in April 2014, and the system will go into user acceptance testing this summer, Oberdank said. DMV employees already have had at least one two-hour training session with MOVES in the developers' "sandbox," so it won’t be foreign to them when it’s officially introduced. He aims for a real rollout by year's end.
Although the project is on a fast track, Oberdank and his team spent three years preparing for it and listening to lessons learned from other jurisdictions, he said.
“We didn’t want this enormous custom build,” he explained. “What we wanted to do was fit our transaction framework into the toolset that CRM has to give us. We were willing to change some of the things we do to match the strengths of the system, and I think that’s important.”
Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.