back to article Cost-cutting Barclays bank swings axe on 5,600 IT and ops bods

Barclays will axe about 5,600 IT and operations staffers in 2014 in a massive restructuring effort. The at-risk techies work across the retail and investment arms of the British banking group. The plan is to achieve £1.6bn in savings by scrapping about 14,000 full-time staff over the next 12 months, a move unveiled on Thursday …

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Anonymous Coward

So, are we taking bet as to when they in turn suffer an RBS-like massive IT cock-up?

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cockup in three ... two ... one ...

Very soon after all the hackers realise that ...

> The bank promised automation of IT platforms across the Group

... means there aren't actually any people supervising the security systems. And even when an alarm goes off, it'll take some time for whoever's on-call to get their arse out of bed, realise what's going on and escalate the problem to the few capable individuals who are still working there.

But given the speed of financial transactions, will there be any money left by that point?

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Re: cockup in three ... two ... one ...

>And even when an alarm goes off, it'll take some time for whoever's on-call to get their arse out of bed,

When the alarm goes off, an accountant will be alerted to begin the process of collecting bids from service companies who migth deal with it - before accepting the cheapest one in 6-8 weeks

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"Around 6,400 IT and operations staffers are being chopped by Barclays Group - employees who'd worked across the retail and investment banks."

They'll be replaced by an even greater number of contractors before the year is out

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Yup, it's nothing more than juggling figures between the budgets lines. Depending on who reports are presented to, figures will magically disappear or appear as required. Showing internal costs whilst omitting outsourcing costs can make a budget look great.. Just make sure to hide those damned outsourcing figures......

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Contractors.

"They'll be replaced by an even greater number of contractors"

After they have JUST cut rates by 10%!? I doubt it, unless they reverse that and go the other way.

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Re: RE: Contractors.

"After they have JUST cut rates by 10%!? I doubt it, unless they reverse that and go the other way.

Lay off enough people and they will accept the lower rates. They will have no choice.

See how that works?

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Re: RE: Contractors.

The you have to hire twice as many contractors to fix the problems created by the "lowest bid" lot you hired to fix the problems created by firing all the permie staff.

I think Barclays just invented a means to full employment

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False Economy

Same thing happened at Lloyds 2 years ago - they got rid of many of their experienced IT guys and had to replace them a year later with twice as many short term contractors.

Interestingly the same CIO Darryl West moved from Lloyds to Barclays a few months ago - maybe they needed an hatchet man.

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Re: RE: Contractors.

"The you have to hire twice as many contractors to fix the problems created by the "lowest bid" lot you hired to fix the problems created by firing all the permie staff.

No not really. In some cases yes, but more often, the CIO blames everyone else and then hires another contracting company or just keeps churning the contractors and blaming them the whole time which also justifies the labor rates going lower and lower.

The situation remains understaffed but the labor numbers look good.

If you think otherwise then you are living a sheltered life. Nothing wrong with that, mind, you, but the rest of us are getting screwed and screwed hard.

I've got several decades experience and my pay has not kept with inflation while I now have to know 10 times what I did when I started and more and more companies are going the outsourcing route resulting in the above.

You're thinking logically which is outmoded these days. Anything to keep labor from getting uppity is the rule of the day. Including screwing your customers and stockholders.

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This will surely go well.

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'Ecky thump!!!!

Crikey... I'd love to see the business analyst or consultancy report that sits behind this re-org as I'm sure it would make for very interesting reading (yes I am being serious); and whilst I have every sympathy for those about to lose their jobs, I also have just about as much for those keeping or inheriting them.

I guess we'll just sit back and watch the fireworks. From a very safe distance.

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Again...?

What is it with Barclays and removing I.T. staff?

They did a similar thing many years ago early into my career. I still remember driving 2 1/2 hours to one of their remote sites, waiting around 1 1/2 hours for someone to find a code to get into the server room so I could diagnose why a server hadn't rebooted (remember this is pre-lights our remote control days).

One floppy disk ejected later and the server booted.

A server down for almost half a day because there was no one around to eject a disk.

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Re: Again...?

Well, now with out-sourcing it will be down for hours because there's nothing in the contract about ejecting disks someone left in a machine (or a USB stick or DVD etc).

You may laugh but I worked somewhere where something like this happened.

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Unhappy

"somewhere where something like this happened"

Every single place that's ever had an outsourcing contract.

Repeat after me: "Your request,is unfortunately not within the scope of the contract and will therefore be chargeable at our infeasibly large daily rate."

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Happy

Re: Again...?

Are you the same fellow that was there the week before and left the floppy in the drive?

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Tech jobs

Why is it every time i see a story about tech jobs (especially Barclays tech jobs) it's about thousands being thrown under the "surplus to requirements" bus?

Well i suppose all the latest startups in the silicon sphincter roundabout will have a sudden infusion of talent...

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Re: Tech jobs

Can you write an iPhone app in Cobol? (Inquiring minds, who might soon be out of a job, need to know!)

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Re: Tech jobs

From what I hear there is a shortage of COBOL programmers to the point where (at least in the US) they are paying people not to retire.

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Re: Tech jobs

I worked at Barcap and never say any Cobol. C++, C, C#, F#, Java, Python, JavaScript, perl, ... - Yes, but no Cobol.

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Facepalm

6,400 staff times how many years average service each = an awful lot of SITE knowledge being lost. The one think bean counters never factor into "knowledge" - off the shelf IT stuff is easy, anyone can read google. It's the internal customisations that sting.

brrr, brrr. brrr, brrr.

"Hello, is that Barclay's Stockbrokers? I'd like you to sell my entire holding in Barlays please"

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Anonymous Coward

Easy Peasy

I too can remember the day a consultant made the maintenance staff redundant on a large 40 year old site. Six months later many were reemployed if they could be found, as the drawings on record bore no resemblance to the site infrastructure in reality. Seen the same thing happen lots of times in other areas, the learning curve for the replacement staff is very slow and you need many more of them.

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Re: Easy Peasy

Yup, Never yet met a manager that included in his budget " And when we've finished add the same, or an agreed %age, time again to document the hardware ,software and procedures." well not one that was allowed to do a second project anyway..

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Anonymous Coward

Not so much the Go To bank ...

... as the Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail? bank

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Pirate

Redundant?

Rationalisation and restructuring - excellent. What could possibly go wrong?

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Summary

Operational staff gets tossed out in lieu of the safety of Management.

Same old. Same waiting for things to go tits-up in one or two years, and see the ones responsible for the mess parachute out on Cloth of Gold...

And somehow this is not criminal...

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I'm sorry, but ...

Surely some people here have worked within IT departments where some, or all, of the below apply:

* A lot of "dead wood" loitering about

* Old or obsolete technology being used, that could be dumped (along with staff related to it)

* Systems that could be set up to require less maintenance.

So, maybe, just maybe ... Barclay's really could cope fine without the staff they're offloading ?

Note the "Maybe" ;-) It could be a disaster, I'm just pointing out that it might not be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm sorry, but ...

"Surely some people here have worked within IT departments where some,"

You raise some valid points - but to gather this amount surplus staff and obsolete systems, the first questions that should be asked is - How long has it been surplus and how much money has been wasted over the years, then the management responsible brought to account and shown the door.

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Re: I'm sorry, but ...

There will be much waste and useless staff. The problem is that in a bid to reduce headcount, whole teams will be dumped regardless of the quality of the staff working in them. Thus, Team A will be deemed to be essential and all staff kept on, even though 20% or so of the staff are useless. Meanwhile, Team B is dumped even though most of the staff are high calibre and could be moved to other teams who would be glad to have them.

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Re: I'm sorry, but ...

There *MAY* be a grain of truth in what you say. I've worked in IT for 35 years now and in every organisation I've worked in - public and private sector - some or all of these applied. BUT...

...the problem that Barclays will have is that the second this announcement was made (possibly even before) all the really good people will have retrieved their CV and mailed it to the recruitment consultant or website of their choice. They won't hang around to see if they'll get a payout, they know their worth and they'll be off.

Barclays will make redundancies from whoever is left and it's inevitable that the calibre of their IT department will lurch downwards.

I speak from experience!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm sorry, but ...

Sometimes with acquisitions you get duplicated departments so some cuts are necessary.

Not saying this is the case, but at least 40% of the cuts are possibly duplicated jobs

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Re: I'm sorry, but ...

Surely some people here have worked within IT departments where some, or all, of the below apply:

* A lot of "dead wood" loitering about

Unfortunately, those tasked with determining who stays and who goes rarely have the talent or ability to understand who is who.

I've worked with people that play a game of speaking with authority on any technical subject such that their managers love them. Unfortunately when you scratch the surface of their "knowledge" you discover it has all the depth of a TOWIE character.

It gets worse still when you examine their code and discover it has the service life & resusability of a condom.

* Systems that could be set up to require less maintenance.

That requires investment and technical know-how. Remember that the people that control the investments/projects almost universally don't understand technology.

* Old or obsolete technology being used, that could be dumped (along with staff related to it)

System decomissioning or replacement tends to be an expensive process. It shouldn't be, but in large burocratic organisations, it almost always is.

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Re: I'm sorry, but ...

Yep - I wonder how the remaining 'support technician' will cope?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm sorry, but ... @Cookieninja

Barclays aggressively down-sized several times over the last two decades. When I was in the Midrange Infrastructure team, there really wasn't a huge amount of dead-wood left amongst the techies. However, further up the ladder....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm sorry, but ...

the management responsible brought to account and shown the door.

Ha, that'll never happen.

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WTF?

A mistake surely ...

Why only last month Barclays were saying that they had to bung pay bonuses of 2.4 Billion to retain their top talent .....

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Re: A mistake surely ...

Of course. If profits are down at a bank, support staff have to be cut, while the people at the top need bigger bonuses to motivate them to do better in future.

Oddly, there does not seem to be a scenario in which the people at the top earn less.

I suspect the logic may be that when civilisation finally collapses they will need enough money stashed away to fuel their superyachts as they sail into the Pacific to wait out WW3.

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Re: A mistake surely ...

Why only last month Barclays were saying that they had to bung pay bonuses of 2.4 Billion to retain their top talent .....

Care to guess how much of that would have reached the typical IT staffer?

Its always amazed me how many people bang on about bonuses without understanding that the vast majority of bank IT staff would be considerably better off were overtime paid instead. A bonus is just a means of avoiding paying overtime.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A mistake surely ...

"there does not seem to be a scenario in which the people at the top earn less."

When the bank goes tits up and they all get fired.

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Re: A mistake surely ...

"When the bank goes tits up and they all get fired."

We have governments to ensure that such an unfortunate state of affairs doesn't eventuate.

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This is all thanks to those ...

..... management types who thought turning IT into a full service industry would somehow improve how companies dealt with IT systems. Before it used to be 'if we can get the staff to empty their bins themselves we can get rid of half the cleaners', and now it's 'Outlook will set itself up when launched, now we can get rid of half the IT team'.

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Re: This is all thanks to those ... @Eradicate...

It's funny that they never do factor in the number of expensive minutes lost having skilled people gathering up and throwing away their coffee cups and other rubbish compared with the cheap minutes of the cleaners.

I'm not trying to belittle cleaners, but there is a 3:1 or more ratio in cost of trained and skilled IT professional vs. (often minimum wage) cleaners.

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Customer Base IT Crowd Source

Customer / IT Skill-Xpert participants must be available on zero-hours contracts and at 24/7 notice to come into their local branch and sort out our IT mess themselves. BUT those 'valued' Barclays customer IT Xperts who would like to sign up to our new scheme will have the chance to win a free set of bath towels every month! Be part of the IT behind our new fabby-tastic banking service today!

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Anonymous Coward

No fat left, they're going to cut into the muscle.

At least in their UNIX estate, Barclays were already pretty lean, especially on the system admin, midware and common application sides.

In a project called Stretch in the early noughties, they did a major restructuring of a significant majority of their disparate UNIX servers onto a number of large server farms, with common OS and patching strategies to reduce overheads, and the applications packed into moveable workloads that they could transfer between servers relatively easily. This was way before Cloud was an en-vogue buzzword (although snow, mist, rain, dewy, gust, wave and damp were, because they were some of the system complex names used - sorry, private joke for those in the know).

The entire set of farms, several thousand systems images running significantly more business applications, were managed by a team of a few dozen system admins (the number really being decided for reasons of continuity of cover rather than the number of servers).

Of course, about 6 years ago, a lot of the work was moved to India. It's probably all gone to pot now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No fat left, they're going to cut into the muscle.

Not so much cutting into the muscle as having eaten their own feet and lower legs off they are now busily chomping away up towards their thighs.

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Re: No fat left, they're going to cut into the muscle.

Yes, worked at Barcap as a contactor for quiet a few years and never saw any deadwood at all. (maybe it was me? Noooo) It should be interested to see how management will cut staff without harming the bank.

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RE:A mistake surely

I wonder why anyone would willingly work for a major bank in IT anymore. It seems that every two years a big <insert favourite euphemism here> gets swung, and Barclays is always the first in the queue.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RE:A mistake surely

No one with any brains is dumb enough to work FOR a major bank....you contract your services to them and hop around as required to avoid the BS. Betcha ass most of the better staff at Barclay's are at pastures new already.

Give it a year or two and go back on a higher rate. Easy :)

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Pint

It seems to be happening quickly...

"Service unavailable" at ATM this lunchtime... seems I'll have to run a tab tonight!

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Anonymous Coward

It's good that one can't run out of upvotes

Because I find myself upvoting almost every comment in this thread.

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