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Last week you can’t have failed to be aware of the TSB systems and self-service meltdown from the 22nd April onwards, lasting well over a week. You may even have been caught up in it being a TSB customer or relying on TSB in some way. Luckily I don’t bank with them, but I had some fun with my teenage son, who leant a lesson on how when technology lets you down, it can do it big time.
As with most IT situations, it could have probably been avoided well before with better planning, improved testing, selective rollout possibly and thinking ahead. These are all things I encourage in my projects, as it makes for successful ones. A move to a proprietary Banco Sabadell internally developed system, (dating from back in 2000, originally called Proteo and later renamed Proteo4UK), was the target for this project.
There is a lot to be learned here.
The project was originally planned for 18 months, with 1,000 staff apparently to be involved in it. It was announced that 2,500 person hours were to be put into it. Often systems like this are very patched and my own experience of all the COBOL underlying the Littlewoods systems, in the late 80’s bears this out. Much of it was code from the early 1970’s. Many bank solutions are very similar and can be badly documented.
If adequate testing had been done, customers would not be accidently seeing others accounts, details and transactions. Very simple reconciliations, could have detected data conversion errors and balance differences. With suppliers I work with on data conversion, I am always shocked & surprised that standard reports and scripts to help reconcile data, balances, debits, status counts of repair orders etc are pretty absent and need to be tackled by struggling clients instead.
Shujun Li, a professor of cybersecurity at the University of Kent’s School of Computing was quoted as saying, "The scale of the problem we saw is incredible. It’s impossible if they had done systematic testing of the system. For me, it’s clearly a case of management, rather than purely a technical problem.”. That is true of many system and data migrations that go wrong in #SocialHousing.
The knock on effect is that a lot of customers are now moving from TSB, due to these issues. One was my own 14 year old son, who tried to deposit cash into his TSB account, at a cash machine and had both his card and cash retained. It did make me smile slightly, that his confidence in technology had take a hefty hit.
In Social Housing, if we have system issues, most of our residents are not going to up-sticks and vote with their feet however. We would not expect them to either.
However, if we have put a lot of effort into nurturing them on to self-serve and it suddenly goes wrong, we are encouraging those customers to contact us again by the more traditional methods. Just a small hiccup with posting delays of payments made on-line, can shake confidence if residents are not seeing these payments on their account and they appear (incorrectly) in arrears. Anecdotally, many then pay via the telephone, to a customer service centre team, because they perceive that as more ‘reliable’.
Introducing customers to interacting online is a hard slog. Don’t let an ICT or project meltdown, such as the TSB one described here, set your plans into reverse.
Related Post: Test, test & test again, why UAT is your greatest friend
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(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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