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How ITSM and strict Processes and Procedures make the NAB glitch an amazing success story.

Last week it became very apparent what the impact can be of event management  and change control going wrong in an IT department. The National Australia Bank had a ‘glitch’ when a batch processing cycle went horribly wrong.

First of all I am intrigued by the way the media refers to it as a glitch – considering the fact that thousands of clients have been negatively affected. (and still are after more than a week) The bank’s PR department must be working overtime to streamline this process.

An article in The Australian states:

NAB conducts batch processing on behalf of other banks each day. When completed, a file, containing a detailed transaction history, is generated, which is then sent to the banks by NAB at the end of the day.

On early Thursday morning, IT departments at financial institutions such as Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ, HSBC, Citibank and Bank of Queensland went on high alert when they did not receive the files.

NAB told them that “technical issues” had hampered the delivery of the files. The widespread ramifications were immediately clear to all stakeholders: the inability to reconcile accounts would be a disaster.

Since the news broke, NAB has blamed a “corrupted file in the processing batch” as the cause of its nightmares.

However, it apparently was not a “file” itself that was the problem. Instead, it appears that someone from NAB’s IT department who had access to the system inadvertently uploaded a file that “corrupted” the system.

NAB spokesman George Wright described this as a “fair” statement as he tried to explain exactly what went wrong.

HOWEVER – you can also look at it from an opposite point of view. After reading the IBM mainframe discussion forum and debating this with my (very technically savvy – ex mainframe programmer ) husband, I am AMAZED and in awe with the fact that these types of glitches don’t happen more often.

How can you run a batch processing schedule every day /night of the week which requires multiple OPC/ESA or CA/7 jobs linked together with thousands and thousands of JCL statements based on 30 year old legacy code without daily glitches that end up in the mainstream media??

JCL statements literally manage, access and change thousands of files and databases. So with this mind boggling complexity I can only say that NAB must be running very strong event management, availability management, testing and change management processes. This has to be the secret to their success!

4 thoughts on “How ITSM and strict Processes and Procedures make the NAB glitch an amazing success story.”

  1. wow – I just noticed that somebody voted this post with a 1 star… my guess is that this is done by somebody who doesn’t work in IT and definitely not in the Mainframe world.
    In this world where IT is in the background but pretty much always working, it’s hard to still be in awe of what an amazing feat our IT Professionals pull of every day of the year…

  2. Well, I worked for about 13 years in IT in Australian Banks – 10 of those at the NAB. They used to run a very tight shop, and these sorts of catastrophic failures were very rare indeed. They did have strong QA processes in place and system and coding standards. Coupled with well trained , knowledgable and long-term employees they produced robuist systems. However, times have changed and the quality and oversight by safe pairs of hands is not as good. I admit that new technology poses it’s own challenges, but it seems we are primarily looking at a flaw in their change management processes . I do wonder also if this problem ultimately can be laid at the feet of outsourcing where quite often you don’t know the qaulity or experience of those working on your systems.

    1. Mr. Magoo – I get where you’re coming from with the outsourcing and quality control is a very big issue in many organisations and processes. The ‘flaw’ as you mention could be a lot more to the point, especially now that we are looking at different ways of outsourcing, namely Cloud Computing.
      When you don’t manage and control your internal processes in an outsourced scenario or in a cloud computing managed scenario – things happen and you may not have enough time to respond before things spin out of control.
      Great comment, thank you!

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