back to article Do you work in IT at RBS? Or at the next place to get hit ...?

Those nice people at RBS have provided me with a worked example for how you can best get through fan-hitting situations without having to take up minicab driving or going to work in local government. What I’m writing applies to the any of the very worst of screw-ups, when technology has gone so wrong that the IT director cancels …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Anonymous Coward

Help your manager look good?

Don't make me laugh.

They are in 'self preservation mode' just as much as you. The only difference is that it is far easier for them to knife you in the back that it is the other way round.

In situations like these, don't trust anyone not to have a large pointy thing hidden behind their backs and giving them the opportunity to 'stick it to you' will give them an immense amount of satisfaction even if you were sunning yourself on a tropical beach then the catastrophy happened. somehow it will end up being your fault.

The advice to keep your head down and look busy is spot on though.

Anon as I don't want to give my boss a target. He reads 'El Reg' when he does not have a lot to do which for some reason is at least 6hr per day.

6
4

Re: Help your manager look good?

@Anon:

Bear in mind that one way to "help your manager look good" is to help him show that he's on top of what his hard-working team are doing to help fix the problem.

I agree that helping your manager look good without also making yourself look good at the same time is silly and downright dangerous, but TBH given that the thinking going on here will be giving relatively little weight to issues like "actual technical competence" means that dealing with corporate insanity is the order of the day. So in that regard, same as it ever was...

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Help your manager look good?

"Don't make me laugh.

They are in 'self preservation mode' just as much as you. The only difference is that it is far easier for them to knife you in the back that it is the other way round."

And who are they going to knife first? The person supporting them and being positive and not shafting them to other managers, or the bitter, miserable cynic who loudly slags them off as well as senior management.

Helping your manager doesn't mean trusting your manager. It means making yourself less of a target than the people being awkward.

11
1
Silver badge

Re: Help your manager look good?

"And who are they going to knife first?"

The old adage eh? You don't have to run faster than the wolves, just your colleagues :)

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Help your manager look good?

"Don't make me laugh."

Oh dear.

1
0
Silver badge
Devil

Re: Help your manager look good?

If you haven't worked in Banking, you won't understand...

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Help your manager look good?

Ya sure it's your boss and not an unemployed websurfer? OK you probably don't have those INSIDE your building;)

0
0

Re: Help your manager look good?

That said, if he'll helpfully don a bullseye like that, he probably isn't bad to have on your team when it gets around to sauve qui peut o'clock.

1
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Great article

Should be committed to memory for anyone working in any discipline. SNAFUs like this happen to varying degrees to everyone at some point and how you react to it is by far the biggest action that is judged.

7
0
Pint

Having been in the driving seat of teams that deal with extreme outages/fuckups the worst thing you can do as a team manager is demotivate the troops. For me its not about looking good but doing a professional job both technically and managerially. What goes on in the stratosphere is of no concern to me as a support manager. I have absolutely no chance of influencing anything there. What I can do is make my team look really good by leading and ensuring that the right messages are being sent. Dominic is absolutely correct that saying a problem is fixed why the symptoms are gone is madness without a time for the change to bed in. This is easily covered in a ECAB...in fact the ECB should give the time when a decision is made that a change is successful. I say ECAB coz this kind of thing is an emergency and needs precise management.

Anyway back to the point about making your team look good...when it comes around for bonus time I have a stronger case to get a larger bonus for my team than if I was just a manager in name only and kisses the ass of management. For me the profit lies in having not only a dedicated team but a happy team.

Of course the killer to all this is when you a sociopathic VP running around like a headless chicken embarrassing not only himself but the company. Seen that too many times.

The Pint speaks truth.

6
0

Isn't it easier just to pass the blame around

Batch services can blame the implementation crew

The Implementation crew can blame the developers

The developers can blame batch services

.. and repeat.

With so much blame being passed around senior managers wont actually know who to blame.

Actually, I know the best thing to do is to keep your mouth shut. And then counter by claiming victimisation, bullying, stress, overwork, you can always throw in some blackmail as well.

Another point (and I think a very good one) whoever was responsible will know that if they do get the push they will be in line for a nice 6 figure sum from one of the weekly rags. Max Clifford is very likely to be your best friend. Just make sure you come out looking the victim. (Nick Leeson didn't do too bad).

2
2
Thumb Up

Excellent

Cracking article, well done. I'd love to see the face of a senior RBS manager while reading this. Horrified, annoyed, furious ... all thw while knowing there is more than an element of truth to it.

This is possibly the one and only time that I'll say I'm glad I bank with HSBC ...

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: HSBC

I have dealt with senior management at HSBC. Never, ever again. I rather keep my money in a sock with holes in.

4
0

Re: HSBC

First Direct are running some tasks tonight..................................

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Excellent

You wouldn't say that if you'd had to deal with their IT dev teams.

Clue - they're not based in this country.

0
0

Another excellent article

Deliciously cynical as always.

5
0
Anonymous Coward

Sitting on information....

we just had a cock-up on our multinational application where one section tried to fix the problem then after 4 days of fluffing around, instructed my section to perform a major reversion. Pity that in 5 minutes of querying them, I had identified the root cause but after 4 days of failures, management did not want to risk another attempt to fix.

Keep you ear to the ground for problems that you might not yet know about, and don't be afraid to butt in where you can reasonably do so (I always try to keep good social relations with the senior technicians in the various sections, so I can approach them casually about business issues that managers may not want to admit - call it "back-channels").

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Sitting on information....

I've always believed that if something even moderately nasty is on the cards, it is absolutely necessary to inform the boss. Of course, if that boss is the kind that likes to march around the office telling people he only wants to hear about results and solutions...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Sitting on information....

If you see something nasty on the horizon you absolutely have to inform the boss, preferably in writing and holding onto a copy for yourself.

Don't try and throw your manager under the bus, but it's handy to have in reserve incase your manager tries to do it to you. Where I work we are circumspect within our own team, but tend to do it sideways to other teams, we highlight issues and tell them about it, and if that issue happens because they have ignored it, and it has a knock on effect on us (and it will, or we wouldn't have seen it) we happily throw them to the wolves during the problem review.

1
0

Is this guy capable of writing an article where he doesn't present himself as a smug tosser?

1
23
Anonymous Coward

"Is this guy capable of writing an article where he doesn't present himself as a smug tosser?"

If he does present himself thusly, it's because he can.

I like people who have nothing to prove.

4
0

banks and tossers

Are there any bank staff who are not complete and utter W^HBankers?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

@Zanzibarandsomemorerandomletters

"Is this guy capable of writing an article where he doesn't present himself as a smug tosser?"

Would you want the tone any different? Maybe the dry tone of an HR policy on "Professional Conduct in Critical incident Situations" would suit you?

Personally I've been suffering withdrawal symptoms since last November*, and I'm delighted to read another beautifully crafted piece from DC. If anything, it isn't smug and cynical enough.

* Yeah, DC's written some other pieces, but they've not been as provocative.

2
0
Bronze badge

For "RBS managers" read "any managers", passim...

0
0

Best Advice for those in RBS IT?

Get out.

You're not valued by their management.

0
0
Facepalm

That's a nice cheery punchline...

...just after I've banked a cheque.

0
0
Silver badge
Alert

Re: That's a nice cheery punchline...

Having worked for a few financial institutions, I can assure you that disasters from the "oops, that's gonna cost us" right up to the "man the boats" variety are not exclusive to RBS. Banks and their systems are designed, implemented and run by human beings, and no matter how good they think their quality control and project management procedures are, their systems are never perfect (not that I've seen anyway).

1
2
Gold badge
Facepalm

Re: That's a nice cheery punchline...

proto-robbie,

I've just arranged a mortgage with them...

But that's OK, buying my house isn't too important a transaction. Oops!

Oh well, what could possibly go wrong? If £100 turns up in my account then it just won't go through. If it's £100,000 job's a goodun', and it's £100 million, then "goodbye losers, I've just bought Tahiti."

0
0
Pint

Re: That's a nice cheery punchline...

Well, if it's been my £100M, I trust you'll stand me one of the attached down the Papeete seafront.

0
0
Gold badge

Re: That's a nice cheery punchline...

That's an impressive cheque you're paying in there!

If it comes off, I'll be happy to buy the beers. I'll own the bar after all. I won't be paying your air fare though. Plus I may be shooting down incoming aircraft full of bank lawyers and anti-fraud policemen, so you'll need to be careful who you fly with...

0
0
Pirate

RBS...

...putting the "R" into "outage".

3
0
Silver badge
Devil

Objectivism married to Machiavellism?

Office Attilas and Witch Doctors shall get no traction!

0
0

Re: Objectivism married to Machiavellism?

...and people say I put my politics where they don't belong...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

"That’s not enough for me to say that you shouldn't use RBS for any banking, but if it’s a transaction you care about, best do it somewhere else"

Interesting thought. Consider your comment "understand the obscenely complex ways of ancient multi-layered systems". I've worked for a number of Banks, Pensions Providers and other non-FS businesses, and I can honestly say they are all getting MORE obscenely complex. Banking may have been complex before its time, but IT is getting more complex across the board.

So when you choose to "do it somewhere else", think VERY carefully about where that somewhere else is. Everywhere is susceptible to unplanned errors and outages, and when that happens, would you rather a good experienced Banking IT operation was attempting to fix it, or would you be just as happy if it was the IT operation of, for example, a supermarket or a record company.

0
0
Gold badge
Thumb Up

"Interesting thought. Consider your comment "understand the obscenely complex ways of ancient multi-layered systems". I've worked for a number of Banks, Pensions Providers and other non-FS businesses, and I can honestly say they are all getting MORE obscenely complex. Banking may have been complex before its time, but IT is getting more complex across the board."

Well duh.

IT is a support service and bank support service managers love to do 2 things.

Save money

Deliver the same level of f**kups (at this cheaper price) that the old system does. They'd like less but they know the predators up the food chain won't eat them if it's at least as good.

So how do you do this?

Well don't *redevelop* stuff that already works. That's a complete waste of money (I know better but I've seen systems whose core code ran on emulation about 4 layers deep. Yes it was a bank and no it had never failed since the early 60s)

Pull in other data from some other systems (on different hardware platforms & OSes) synch it all up, add in a (small) bit of new code and you have a whole new financial instrument for the front office to to play with.

Banks buy *lots* of middleware.

In *theory* the smarter move is to rationalize the data, clean out the 6 decades of cruft then upload to some super duper package so the support costs are spread across *all* package customers.

Making that work in one of the UK high street banks will probably take *huge* bespoking of any package up to the job (I guess SAP has an app module for that 'cause they seem to have one for everything else) and the selective assassination of certain senior staff (not advocating it you understand, just saying things might go a bit smoother if some of the obstacles to "progress" were greased out of the way).

Otherwise a first rate piece on how to survive the eternal battle between doing a piece of work you can be proud of while avoiding becoming the next prey animal for the backstabbing PoS who supervises you without resorting to lethal force.

0
1
Silver badge

That depends on the decade of code

Lots of middleware may be the lesser evil compared to really bad code from the 1990s. Just imagine a bank running on an Access server or some form of MS-SQL. You'd never be able to interface that with anything else reasonably.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

The rip it out and replace it with SAP route is exactly what Nationwide are currently trying to do. It's fair to say they are struggling somewhat to make it all work. Someone closer to the project will probably be able to enlighten you on the current state of the mess.

1
0
Gold badge
Unhappy

I am dimly aware of this. Personally I think SAP's got too many fingers in too many pies and a better solution would have something industry specific which no one on the Board had ever heard of. but SAP gets the "Oh yes, I've heard of them. They're big and solid. Let's go with them"

I guess Nationwide users will be getting a personal taste of how good a full replacement really is quite soon.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

"Do not get involved in arguments, wait until a consensus emerges and reinforce it."

'nuff said!

1
0
Angel

This is why I don't use a bank; I use the Building Society. At least their shareholders aren't driven by short term profits...

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: the Building Society

As a public service, perhaps you'd like to list the ones that are left: the ones that did not turn themselves into, or sell out to, banks.

3
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Silver badge
Go

Re: the Building Society

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_society#Current

2
0
Silver badge

Re: the Building Society: Nationwide

But not the one called Irish Nationwide

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Nationwide

Interesting. I thought they'd sold out ages ago, but I was wrong, and I'm glad to know it.

Thanks very much.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Nationwide @Thad

"I thought they'd sold out ages ago, but I was wrong, and I'm glad to know it."

Well, their board are the usual city fat cats, and I haven't even had to look that up on their website because I've just had my voting papers through. They are overpaid, and to judge by comments made earlier, they've swallowed the consultant's medicine and are now trying to install SAP, which if it is anything like their enterprise software will IMHO be a pile of complex, user unfriendly shit, wholly unsuited to a retail banking business.

As a mutual you might expect them not to be so slavish in following the fashions of outsourcing and offshoring, but they outsourced IT infrastructure to BT back in 2008, and other "usual suspects" named in the SAP adventure include Capgemini and KPMG. That'll be doing wonders for me as a member, then.

Regretfully, I have the impression the Nationwide ain't that different from the other retail banks (admittedly minimal invvestment & casino operations), and the board are rather comfortable knowing that nobody ever reads their annual report, they cannot be taken over, and many of the members will surrender their votes to the board proxy.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Go to the COOP?

Not a Building Society (and not technically a co-op, just owned by one), but ethical banking (or as close to ethical as you can get), they also have had their own share of IT problems, they turn away unethical business (make less money because of it), they close accounts of people who they think don't fit with their dignity and diversity policies.

They might screw up, they might not pay the best interest, they may not have the best customer service, but they're pretty good and they are ethical (ish, it's money - can money ever be ethical?).

0
0
Coat

SAP is well named

If you think it's a good idea, it's evidence you are one.

0
0
Silver badge

Fundamental misconception.

The author of this article does not seem to understand that people who are good engineers are usually so because they enjoy doing things right and take a viewpoint that is based around what is optimum for the system, not just their little nugget of it. We have become engineers because we find greater satisfaction in actually being good people who move things forward, than we do playing internal politics and bickering over our share of an increasingly small pie.

Ultimately, companies that foster this sort of attitude lose all the really good people.

8
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: Fundamental misconception.

You're unlikely to be working in this kind of a company.

1
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums