IBM ‘had not seen evidence’ of rigorous testing ahead of TSB migration disaster

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27 June 2018

IBM had not seen evidence of ‘rigorous’ testing ahead of TSB’s disastrous core banking platform migration in April this year, according to an early report by the vendor after it was brought in to help the UK retail and commercial bank fix the problem.

Customers of the bank were locked out of their accounts, had money disappear and could even see other customer’s accounts after the failed migration back in April.

After the initial failed migration TSB quickly hired IBM to help deal with its IT issues.

As a result, IBM produced a document for presentation to the TSB Board on Sunday 29 April with its early observations, which has now been published by MPs of the Treasury Committee.

That report states that “IBM has not seen evidence of the application of a rigorous set of go-live criteria to prove production readiness”.

IBM laid out in the report how it had conducted a similar migration for another financial services client: “In a similar situation when IBM partnered with a financial organisation to migrate to new a core banking platform, multiple trial migrations were conducted, rolled back and then remediated prior to launch,” it said.

“The production launch was done over a longer period, initially open to programme members only, then staff, then targeted customer groups, before full launch to new customers and subsequent migration.”

The early report also found that “most of the observed problems are related to custom and package applications, middleware services and the network, rather than the underlying infrastructure”.

TSB response
TSB asked that the following statement be attached to the published document: “This document was produced by IBM for presentation to the TSB Board on 29 April 2018. It contains a preliminary work plan with very early hypotheses, produced after just three days of engagement with TSB. These hypotheses were not final nor were they a validated view of what went wrong or of the actions that may or may not subsequently have been taken.”

When asked if the bank had in fact conduced sufficient testing ahead of the migration a spokesperson said the bank did conduct rigorous testing and that it would not have undertaken the migration if it did not feel ready to do so.

TSB CEO Paul Pester’s 5 June letter to the Treasury Committee also states: “From our internal investigations, it appears that the design of the platform itself is robust, but that the deployment onto the technical infrastructure has led to many of the problems we are experiencing.

“The coordination and testing of this was led by Sabis and its third-party providers. TSB and Sabis are therefore now shifting the focus of the internal investigation of the root cause of the problems TSB experienced post-migration towards the testing regime in Sabis and its providers.

“We have reviewed the governance approach followed by TSB’s Board to arrive at the decision to migrate and believe it was robust. In particular, we believe that the written attestations TSB received from Sabis, amongst others, regarding the effectiveness of the testing completed by it and its providers were instrumental in enabling the TSB Board to take the decision to migrate in good faith.”

An internal investigation into the migration is ongoing at the bank.


IDG News Service

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