Feeds

RBS must realise it's just an IT biz with a banking licence

Expert drills into what it'll take to prevent another bank technology fiasco

The Power of One Infographic

So. How can they stop that meltdown from happening again?

An ex-RBS worker told us that he feared that during the clear-up, the banking giant would plaster on more processes and more "risk management". And that seems to be what Stephen Hester has in mind - that's what he told the MPs, anyway:

The investigation will address the effectiveness of our risk management systems, including the identification of low probability/high impact events and their mitigation. It will also assess contingency planning and business resilience i.e. whether other systems within RBS Group are at risk of similar incidents.

But risk management at RBS is already unwieldy, and may in fact have contributed to the crisis, the former employee argued: "If you want to focus on the real problem that caused this it is the overly restrictive change control, as counter-intuitive as that may seem."

Our contact said in a move unrelated to the massive cock-up in July, RBS "management added another two layers of change control" - which are effective another rulebook of procedures to ensure updates to a system are formally agreed and rolled out as planned.

"I like to think I've been around the block, and I can safely say that the change management in RBS is the most complex I have ever come across - so much so I believe it is counter-productive," the source said.

That dissatisfaction with bundles of red tape was echoed by two other RBS workers who spoke to The Reg. Of course change management is an essential part of developing and maintaining an IT system, but an unwieldy rules designed by people not fully aware of the technical hurdles nor with an appreciation that the system is based on "quirky" mainframes of yore, combined with lower-skilled employees and bosses who weren't listening, seems to have created a situation where a problem, when it occurred, ballooned out of control.

Can they spare some change?

A spokesman for RBS told The Reg in response to our findings: "We're carrying out a full and detailed investigation into the causes of the incident. We plan to share the findings of this and will be happy to comment further once this is published."

Banks will need to rethink the position of IT in their businesses, said Chan: "They can get it right, it's when they apply the squeeze in the wrong place that we get these problems."

And in the case of overhauling banking systems it may take someone with bottle, a lot of money and some serious longterm thinking: as a banking expert suggested, it would be like changing all four engines on a airplane mid-flight. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.