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back to article Natwest, RBS: When will bank glitch be fixed? Probably not today

On the fourth day of a IT systems choke-up that has left customers unable to access money and in some cases unable to buy food or travel, Natwest and RBS – which both belong to the RBS group – still have no idea when the issues will be fixed. A spokesperson said the banking group had been working overnight to fix the problems …

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that's what happens

When you slash a workforce, heads should roll, but they won't, of course "lessons will be learnt"!

Can customers charge 30 quid a day for this? Must be worth a shot

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Re: that's what happens

> of course "lessons will be learnt"

Generally the lesson that is learnt is that the bank in question can futz around for this, particular, length of time without anything bad happening to it's senior staffs' employment prospects, the bank's long-term reputation or in regard to shareholder backlash.

No doubt when RBS carry out a post-mortem, they won't actually find the root cause of the problem (it's the network, stoopid!) but will blame some third-party: either outsourced, software supplier or infrastructure. They will then issue a suitably smug contrite press release about how they've "taken steps to make sure this never happens again", award themselves large bonuses for the successful cost-savings, take the regulator out for a very good lunch and prepare their CVs to move on and stick it to the next financial institution on the list.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: that's what happens

As somebody who is facing redundancy after 20 years due to his job being outsourced to India, I can't help but hope that this kind of shit happens to my current employers.

I won't laugh.

Much.

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Mushroom

Re: that's what happens

nice thumbs down from the PR troll at RBS

Perhaps if you useless cunts invested in making your systems work and not trolling forums looking for negative comments about the monumental goat fuck perpetuated by the bean counting fuckwitts at the top of the steaming heap that is your dying business you might not be ankle deep in shit whilst doing a headstand.

Hurry up and just die, you only got bailed out because Gordon Brown is a jock and we all know how good he was with the economy, he should have let your toxic, debt ridden whore of a bank go bust at the time.

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Out-sourcing is bad

"The problem is that IT systems have become vastly more complex. Delivering an e-banking service could be reliant on 20 different IT systems. If even a small change is made to one of these systems, it can cause major problems for the whole banking service, which could be what's happened at NatWest. Finding the root cause of the problem is probably something NatWest is struggling with because of the complexity of the IT systems in any bank."

This is why out-sourcing IT is bad. You fire the permanent staff who knew all the quirks of the system and would have pinpointed the problem in no time at all.

And now the decision to fire IT staff has come back to bite them in the arse.

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Coat

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

"This is why out-sourcing IT is bad. You fire the permanent staff who knew all the quirks of the system and would have pinpointed the problem in no time at all."

I'm sure that the project manager made absolutely sure that there was adequate time to complete all documentation and each quirk and bug is accurately recorded so that the next guy to come along would have a fighting chance.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Not, sure, if, joking....

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Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Do I need to add /sarcasm to the end of that post? :)

Good documentation helps prevent future disasters, and speeds up the resolution of problems. Good documentation should save you time in the future. The problem is that few people seem to realise the importance of good documentation until they don't have any.

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Happy

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Of course he's joking, he used the term "project manager".

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Happy

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

It's ok crisp, some of us can still spot sarcasm.

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Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Sacking 1.8k permanent IT workers, and replacing them with 800 offshore workers was always going to end like this. Roughly 9 months after they did that, this happened.

I expect that until now, they have simply been managing the existing systems, and now they have put some changes live, utterly breaking everything, and no-one left has a clue how to fix it.

The golden rule when you shed staff like this and cut wages, you lose the good people - who will always be able to find a job - and keep the dross.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Also shows that potentially documentation and config management was gotten out of date because of lack of staff. Can't just sweep in contractors and say "here read this, sort sh*t out".

Hopefully the former permies are all being contacted and offered awesome rates to go and help out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

The 800 "offshored" roles have been phased over the last 18 months. The last few dozens of UK staff actually finished up at RBS in May, just four weeks ago.

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Re: Out-sourcing is bad

[quote]Good documentation helps prevent future disasters, and speeds up the resolution of problems. Good documentation should save you time in the future. The problem is that few people seem to realise the importance of good documentation until they don't have any.[/quote]

Haha.. 3..2..1 you're back in the room :)

Honestly, you have never worked in a real IT department then. People want to do the minimum in terms of effort and time, and documentation (updating it, managing it, reviewing it) will be the first thing that gets chopped and dropped when deadlines approach or the project finishes. IT Departments ignore the need for decent documentation or its control because it is expensive to manage.

You can probably rely on the original spec being right, but any subsequent updates will always be poorly document. In fact a decent programmer using a decent language should produce decent self documenting code anyway.

I worked in application support and trust me the last place I would look when fixing things was the documentation. Better to see what the source code is actually doing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Think you guys are thinking of a SDM - Service Delivery Manager. Its not the PMs issue, once the deliverables have been produced as the SDM required and its been agreed and signed off as part of going into Live service, its not the project team's responsibility any more.

Otherwise you would have projects that never end! Now if the SDM had no idea about the Service they are responsible for delivering, and didnt think about the training required and protection of said service, well thats a different story.

Enough of the Alan Sugar mentality please.. thanks

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Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Good documentation frequently requires the benefit of hindsight. A person with experience of a system will often quickly work out what's gone wrong with it after the problem arises. His knowledge is implicit, not explicit, and couldn't have gone in the documentation.

Outsourcing, bad. Check. All other forms of de-skilling, likewise. Monkey see, monkey do, doesn't work for what the monkey's never seen before.

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Alert

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Oh, as little as nine months? These things usually manage to run on auto-pilot for a bit longer than that. Long enough for the seagull-managers to trouser their bonuses and find their next jobs!

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Coat

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Maybe the 800 Indians can't read German.....

Alles touristen und non-technischen looken peepers! Das computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen das cotten-pickenen hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das blinkenlights.

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@sugerbear

It has not always been like this. I've been working in Data Processing (remember that!) for over 30 years, and there was a time when good best practice, BS5750 and it's follow-ups like ISO9001 were actually valued. But this was back in the days when computers were expensive, and it was seen as valuable to invent in people and process to get the maximum value from your high outlay.

Of course, everybody bitched about having to write the documentation, but at least the management bought in to the overall need for it, and factored time into the project plans, because these standards said it had to be done. Sometimes the docs were junk, but often they contained useful information. And the more documentation you wrote, the better at writing it you became.

Nowadays it's all about trimming the fat, over and over again, and if the managers complain, they get trimmed themselves and replaced by others who are happy to comply. This means that the barest minimum is done to get a service kicked over the wall to support, the support teams have no way of pushing back against a poor service, and then this happens.........

I'm now seen as a boring old fart, locked in the past, so I'll just go and get my Snorkel Parka and go.

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Re: Out-sourcing is bad

From experience, up until now they'll have been able to read through prepared sheets of instructions created by the people they replaced. Now they've had to make a (probably small) change on their own and have come horribly unstuck. Lessons will be learned..

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Re: Out-sourcing is bad

AC 13:12, I take it you know ITIL?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Isn't NatWest the bank who makes all the fuss about having tried outsourcing, and found it lacking, they brought it all back to the UK (or was that just the call centres)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

@ MH Media.

Sorry, no they won't, nor will it affect the bonuses of the Upper Manglement.

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Re: Spitzensparken

Good to see this one is still around - is at least 50 years old.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Nope, this is failed change and should be handled under warranty by the project.

I doubt the requirements included "bring the bank to its knees".

That said, I'd not want to be an SDM who signed up to having no blackout plan...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Erm I meant backout plan.

How cool was that typo :-)

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Re: Out-sourcing is bad

"Good documentation helps prevent future disasters"

ROFL - who are these IT people that read the docs then? I've certainly never met one!

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FAIL

...project manager made absolutely sure that there was adequate time to complete all documentation

ISO 9001.

'nuff said.

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Go

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

I like writing code comments, ensuring system/unit test coverage and getting basic things like Interface Communication Documents put together.

Sure I will avoid writing a user guide, but the first thing I do when I join a project is find out about their build process. I then work to automate that process (projects rarely do until you point out the wasted time).

Then Once I have Jenkins/Cruise Control up and running I get tools like Cobertura (Unit Coverage), JavaNCSS (Code commenting), Checkstyle, JSLint, PMD, FXCop, StyleCop, Lint, etc... (build scripts tend to be written in ANT or Maven and I have done it so many times I add this over a lunch).

Then all you have to do is show the system to your team /technical lead and wait. I've yet to see one who can resist all of those lovely build metrics. Once you have their buy in most of the rest of the documentation comes as a matter of course.

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Re: Out-sourcing is bad

@Lusty

"ROFL - who are these IT people that read the docs then? I've certainly never met one!"

Those will be the people who start a new job and then have to wait for three weeks to get login credentials, security passes etc. :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Besides outsourcing, that other over used IT fad of the moment "agile development" could be in play here. Whilst a good technique for most green field sites and systems, I have come across it being used in complex multi-system environments, where it struck me as something similar to playing russian roulette, especially when being carried out by teams that did not a have deep knowledge of the overall delivery environment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

"Good documentation helps prevent future disasters, and speeds up the resolution of problems. Good documentation should save you time in the future. The problem is that few people seem to realise the importance of good documentation until they don't have any."

Completely true. Please can you be on my next programme board.

Unfortunately when explaining to your project/programme sponsors, before the disaster, that you would need to have an analisys team with the following skill sets (x..z) go over the complex and byztanine structured delivery environment to assess the risks and any project "tuning" that needs to be done, you get shot at for delay and bumping up the cost of the deliery. A decision based upon their profound understanding of IT and system development issues, as demonstrated by their ability to use twitter!

After the disaster, the sponsors then all forget the warnings and advise you gave, that they over-ruled, and then blame the PM and his delivery team.

Yep...got the T-Shirt

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Trollface

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Sounds like the person switched off the lights..

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Pirate

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Sharpen your daily rates ex-employees and offer "assistance"

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Happy

Re: Out-sourcing is bad

Couldn't agree more, Agile === Development by the seat of your pants, with at best a one week ahead view of the project.

I quote a contractor friend of mine "I love agile, its just like I've always coded a bit at a time and fuck the rest until I need to know!"

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FAIL

Re: ...ISO 9001.

LOL, LOL, LOL... Yeah right

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Alert

"The Queen has been unaffected by the glitches,.."

Phew, what a relief, haven't slept a wink worrying how she was going to manage.

As a Natwest customer I can say the at the time of writing this I've had money credited to my account but am unable to transfer/make payments online. Plus direct debits that should have been gone out today, the 22nd, have not been paid.

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The Queen has been unaffected

That's a load off my mind too :)

Can you still walk into a branch and get money out over the counter? Lets hope you don't get charged for each failed direct debit.

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Re: The Queen has been unaffected

I took £50 quid out of the cash machine yesterday from NatWest. My salary wasn't showing on the balance though. Oh, and they were unable to give me a mortgage quote or start an application, but weirdly were able to do their internal credit check and decide I was probably a better risk than the Greek government.

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A customer who sent us confirmation that BACS payments had been made on Tuesday has still not had those payments arrive in our account from their natwest account. Its ridiculous.

All the press is about people not receiving money into their accounts with natwest but there must be a huge amount of people affected by payments not going out from natwest accounts too.

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IT People

Management think they don't need us until the magic box of blinking lights doesn't work any more.

Then they *really* need us.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IT People

The Elders of the Internet have given me permission to allow you the users of the internet to see the Internet running.'

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Re: IT People

I wonder if some of the poor staff they laid off a few months ago will come back in as consultants to fix the issue at something like £10000 a day rates :-)

Still really feel bad for the poor folks who are Natwest customers, I guess screw ups like this could happen to any bank too. :-s

Rob

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Happy

If one of their competitors had any sense

They would be offering a free £100 1 month overdraft to anyone with a Natwest debit card who switches their account in the next week.

Although I suspect most CIO's are just thinking "there but for the grace of god go I". Thats even if they have a CIO and he's not been gobbled up by the CFO's Office.

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Facepalm

Senior Manglement

"That loud room with all the boxes in was awfully cold this morning, so I turned all those fans off. It is much quieter now...."

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Re: Senior Manglement

Unless the cleaners have been in and needed the socket for their vacuum cleaner :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Senior Manglement

lol - nearly fell off my chair laughing at this. Sooo true. Just the other day I was in a server room and the IT manager said, "need to shut the door quickly, the fans annoy the marketing girls".

Still part of my thought, nice deployment of server room so that the lonely IT crew get to see the other parts of the business.......

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Re: Senior Manglement @Dotdavid

Don't joke about it, the first company i worked for the CEO did similar as he felt the aircon cost too much money to run .....

Fortunately I don't have to go AC for this one as the company is long gone (was bought out rather than senior management stupidity - the CEO actually used to keep profits back (rather than rewarding them to himself) so he could keep the company going with out laying staff off during lean times)

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Facepalm

Re: Senior Manglement @Dotdavid

They did the same at my college. The old Apple room was fully air conned and security protected (smoke system, alarm etc). Run a dream except the Admin tools crashed the PCs. :(

But then they decided to get a fancy PC room next door with 15+ top of the range pcs. Oh, but blew the budget on the PCs only. The room had 1 wall with full windows, facing the sun and they barely opened. I think one or two PCs blew each week. But at least the replacement boards came in quick. :P

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Train of thought

To me, there are two trains of thought that exist in management.

Train A goes something like: We employ 1,000 IT staff and, because of this, all our systems run smoothly.

Train B, however, goes: All our systems run smoothly, why do we need 1,000 IT staff?

Unfortunately, it's standing room only on Train B, whereas Train A has been cancelled due to lack of demand and a bus replacement service is now in operation.

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