back to article IT meltdown bank TSB: It's as good a week as any to announce we're taking back control

IT meltdown bank TSB is taking control of its technology and banking platform amid speculation about the bank's relationship with Spanish owner Sabadell. The business has spent the past year trying to fix technical and publicity problems caused by its botched IT migration, which ultimately cost TSB some £330m and CEO Paul …

  1. Thoguht Silver badge

    Migration

    Taking a somewhat narrow meaning of the word, the migration did work perfectly in that all of the data was transferred successfully from the old platform to the new. The problem was that the new platform was shite.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Migration

      I find it really odd that in such multi-million pound systems, rather than "switch this one off, then switch the new one on", there isn't a duplication of transaction data and then parallel feeding to both systems simultaneously, and a load-balancing in between that sends, say, 1% of their customers to the new platform to see how it works out.

      When it all goes wrong, balance back to the old system until the problem is fixed.

      The sheer number of layers you could perform such an action at - and double-verify the new systems response against the old by checking their changes against each other - always leaves me amazed that it's basically an on-off and takes months to fix when the new one doesn't work.

      I remember when Dabs moved all their in-house equipment to a shiny new system and it basically took the site down for months, and when you look they were retiring antique computers and their new system could barely cope with the load with some ridiculous amount of shiny-new racks in its place.

      Pull a feed from your existing system. Duplicate (part of) that feed. Transmogrify it as necessary and feed it to the new system, compare the results.

      And if you want to be really mean... you convert the CEOs and other high-ups bank accounts to the "new" system first so they can acid-test everything they need to do to pay their bills with their shiny new enforced system. No better way to stop a bad system change than to make people eat their own dog-food.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Migration

        We had a very complex building move (ie robotics and some the kit in the building is bigger than a house). The head of the unit decided to "motivate" them to do it correctly by moving in first...

      2. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Migration

        Because banks want to make as much money as they can get. From what I've read over the years, banks IT systems are always poor. So I bet they could of done what you suggest but "Want to save some money so we won't".

        Not in the same vain but was in Nationwide recently, and they couldn't even be bothered to buy them new privacy filters. So the cashier was having to hold the privacy filter in place because it kept falling off. What was it held on by? Bluetac. The Bluetac was so old even that was failing.

        jesus!

      3. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Migration

        I find it really odd that in such multi-million pound systems, rather than "switch this one off, then switch the new one on", there isn't a duplication of transaction data and then parallel feeding to both systems simultaneously, and a load-balancing in between that sends, say, 1% of their customers to the new platform to see how it works out.

        That approach might work for some systems, but sounds like a huge operations overhead for a Bank. That 1% of data has to be processed same as the other 99%, and often updates and reporting have to delivered in a tight timeframe. Running two systems in parallel Live sounds like a potential for as much disaster.

        Shadowing the current system by the new for a time, then switching over to the new as the Live system, and running the old as a fallback might be wiser, expensive, but wiser.

      4. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Migration

        > a duplication of transaction data and then parallel feeding to both systems simultaneously

        We did that with payroll about 30 years ago, moving from a System/34 to see where the new system had issues.

        The new system was on an S-100 CompuPro MP/M dual-processor 8-16 box, to tell you how long ago. I can't remember what accounting package, but it was one of the new commercial off-the-shelf ones instead of the usual custom-written.

        Turned out the new system was golden, and the old system... well, massively fucked and almost completely wrong would be the understatement of the decade.

        Holy. Cow. I don't think the old system had done a single paycheck correctly in 10 years.

        The accounting department was in seriously hot water with pissed-off-for-good-reason employees. Lawsuits were avoided, however. Barely.

        I still remember the chief accountant's face as he started going "ok, they don't match, let's see what the new one's broken, shall we?" and got progressively darker and redder as each transaction on the old system proved to be way off.

      5. Val Halla

        Re: Migration

        And if you want to be really mean... you convert the CEOs and other high-ups bank accounts to the "new" system first so they can acid-test everything they need to do to pay their bills with their shiny new enforced system.

        You are a genius and should be running TSB.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Migration

          "You are a genius and should be running TSB."

          I was just wondering how many banks c-suite inhabitants use their own banks.

          1. Ommerson

            Re: Migration

            I understand that one major banking group which had its own huge IT screw-up provides special employee accounts and will only pay salary into them.

          2. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

            Re: Migration

            Coutts presumably?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Migration

      no all data didn't transfer successfully.

  2. silks

    Negotiation

    Let's hope that the Sabadell negotiators aren't Barnier/Tusk with Theresa May on the TSB side for this exit...

  3. Alister Silver badge

    So, TSB are "taking back control" then?

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
      Coat

      Taking Back Control

      Changing their name from TSB to TBC...

      Pub o' clock beckons... time for a walkabouts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Taking Back Control

        We are about to enter the last weekend in March, that means we switch to BST doesn't it?

        1. Halfmad

          Re: Taking Back Control

          All those Backup Exec jobs will fail again..

        2. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Taking Back Control

          We've been on BST all winter

          Brexit Stumped ('Stuck' if you prefer) Time

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Joke

      Im sure they will be "strong and stable" any day now.

    3. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
      Coat

      I wonder if they're putting a backstop in place...

  4. AJ MacLeod

    Closing High Street branches

    Absolutely brilliant move - eliminate the one reason that any sane person may have for becoming a customer! I have a better idea for saving cash and improving efficiency... fire everyone within the top 15% of salary level and let the people who actually make things work get on with it in peace.

    1. Thoguht Silver badge

      Re: Closing High Street branches

      For any sane person with Internet access, the one reason for being a customer is their current account with 5% interest. Much as I agree that their relatively good branch coverage is (or at least was) a major selling point, I have to admit that the last time I went into my branch was to change some old banknotes I found in a wallet in my attic.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Closing High Street branches

        I opened my current account seven years ago, that remains the only time I've been in the branch...

        1. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

          Re: Closing High Street branches

          Branches are really more for advice than transactions now. There are a vast number of people that have very little concept about how one sort of account or service is different to another. Albeit you get advice biased on the services the given provider actually delivers (in this case TSB). Financial education is rather lacking around how different products work and what risk people (don't realise) they take with some.

          Interesting that the two elements of the same organisation are both taking what appears to be competitive positions you are too slow and expensive vs you are too useless and we want control back from all your 3rd & 4th party supply chains. I'm going to get my comfy chair and popcorn out for this one.

          1. steviebuk Silver badge

            Re: Closing High Street branches

            Branches are also useful because you know that, unless someone on the inside has set them up, their cash machines are 99% clean and not compromised. Not compromised by hidden pin hole cameras with card skimmers attached. And you know this because they are unavailable when the bank is closed and during the day, no sensible crook would try to rig them with all the staff watching.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: no sensible crook would try to rig them

              " no sensible crook would try to rig them with all the staff watching."

              Didn't stop the banking criminals who fraudulently sold PPI in every branch, did it?

            2. Gene Cash Silver badge

              Re: Closing High Street branches

              Plus in my bank, the inside ATM gives you your choice of notes to be dispensed instead of the usual (American) "all $20s"

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Closing High Street branches

            "I'm going to get my comfy chair"

            Oh no! Not......the comfy chair!!!!

            ( no one expected the Spanish Acquisition)

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Closing High Street branches

      " I have a better idea for saving cash and improving efficiency... fire everyone within the top 15% of salary level and let the people who actually make things work get on with it in peace."

      Implement this universally!

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Closing High Street branches

        I bet you that most of the people who read El Reg are in the top 15% of salaries. Most people have no idea what the median is, but it's not that high.

        1. keithpeter
          Coat

          Re: Closing High Street branches

          https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/percentile-points-from-1-to-99-for-total-income-before-and-after-tax

          24k median, roughly 50k 85 percentile.

          I suspect the table includes part time so for full time only, could be higher.

  5. marbles

    Ironic that Errington was in charge at RBS during their meltdown in 2012, and "left" shortly thereafter

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Outsource Errington" as he was known at RBS

      Looking in the magic 8 ball I see a large sum of cash going to the cheapest Indian out sourcing agency Mike can find with a multitude of ass covering and scape goats be so that he cannot be handed it again when it goes TITSUP again.

  6. adam payne Silver badge

    "In the coming months, we will take direct ownership of our banking platform, including direct contractual relationships with the third party technology suppliers."

    Why wouldn't you have direct relationships with your suppliers?, it makes sense. Why go log a call with one company for them to do the same with another company, it just adds another level of bureaucracy that you have to deal with.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Outsourcing a great way to have somebody else to blame when it all goes very very wrong.

      "Why go log a call with one company for them to do the same with another company, it just adds another level of bureaucracy that you have to deal with."

      I've heard it claimed it's about reducing the overhead of managing multiple suppliers. You just need to deal with one company and they deal with the others for you.... or not as it turns out a lot of the time ; ) Often the contracts aren't even written to cascade all the requirements properly. Much of my career has been spent as one of those people that actually does something and has to explain the thing you thought you paid for hasn't been paid for and you'd better talk to somebody about that so I can get on and do the needful.

    2. Fatman Silver badge
      WTF?

      RE: direct relationships

      <quote>Why go log a call with one company for them to do the same with another company, it just adds another level of bureauIDIOcracy that you have to deal with.</quote>

      FTFY!!!

  7. druck Silver badge
    WTF?

    Useless systems

    My mortgage is with TSB and I'm coming to the end of the two year deal, so I needed to log on and get a statement. Couldn't remember if I'd logged on before, so put in my name and the account number from a letter, it rejected it as being two digits too long. Left off the /1234 bit and it was two digits too short. Thought maybe I hadn't registered, so tried that and the account number was rejected as being 3 digits too long, or 1 digit too short. Phoned them up, and the girl said "oh the computer system has never worked", I can give you your current balance now, and send a statement through the post in 10 to 15 working days. WTF!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Useless systems

      Are you sure you hadn't accidentally called Santander? That's the kind of response many people used to get, including me before I found a way out.

      1. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

        Re: Useless systems

        I remember when I moved house, Santander neglected to inform Visa.

        Therefore Verified By Visa would only work when I entered my previous postcode.

        I contacted Santander who told me it was the Visa system and to contact them, I found a contact number and they said they got their information from the bank (Santander) and to contact them...

        Otherwise, honourable mentions to go First Trust bank who deliberately transposed a Direct Debit reference number when I asked for my account to be closed and the details migrated to Santander.

        Or to the "computer says no" attitude of Ulster Bank (RBS)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Useless systems

      You should try again. I believe they've sorted this out.

      It's an internal/external account number issue. The translation wasn't working. Mortgages (unlike most of their products) aren't hosted on the core Proteo system. So need account number translation when interacting with common core platforms (like digital).

      However, I believe that under the Lloyds architecture, if you have a mortgage and no other Lloyds product you can't see your mortgage on line at all. This is changing at TSB - so long as you can register!

  8. Steve Medway

    I was loving being a tsb customer with all that lovely compensation they were giving for their constant ****ups.

    But in the end after phoning them to warn of a dodgy attempted transactions they still let my a/c get rinsed of 2k and then took 32 days to send me a new debit card... (after multiple phone calls and false promises) their time was up.

    Sure the 450 quid+ compo I got was useful but I'd have forgone all of it to have an account which reported its figures correctly and provided a card so I could actually spend money from my current a/c .

  9. GetMeOuttaHere

    So Paul Pester lost his job for being a complete numpty.

    But I suspect he really didn't give two shits when he was shown the door along with almost £2m compo for being crap at his job!

    TSB, the bank that likes to say "Yarp"

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

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