Change – got any spare?

Posted by Ross Coundon on July 29, 2012

It makes a change that in the recents weeks the big financial news hasn’t been around the collapse of a European country’s economy, bank bonuses or bailouts, instead it’s about a software upgrade that went wrong. Quite catastrophically wrong.

This was the week when an upgrade to the RBS financial processing software caused major issues for many people making and receiving payments involving the systems of RBS, Natwest and Ulster Bank. This has affected the receipt of wages, customer payments and one instance where a person had to spend the weekend in jail after a bail payment didn’t clear. This serves to emphasise the point, as if it needed further emphasising, of how reliant we are upon integrated technologies and how much trust we unwittingly place in the IT departments of the companies we rely upon to manage our finances.

Like many aspects of IT, good testing is part science, part art-form. It’s often difficult, or even impossible, to test every possible permutation of a change. This illustrates the testing process as another example of the need for the careful management of change. Not only should the testing process serve to ensure that any implemented change functions as expected, it must also inform the implementation team about the potential pitfalls and how to spot them.

And if it all goes wrong, the need for a robust and tested back-out plan is a must …..