Barney Gumble wrote:
I've heard that BOI have a big lead on the other banks in terms of joining up their IT systems to get 'a single view of the customer' and that the other banks are wetting their pants somewhat. I wouldn't be surprised to see them spool up their IT hiring if they have not done so already.
My impression was that it was one very talented, dedicated, disciplined, bright, high-level individual in BOI largely responsible for this. Since moved on to new pastures. Anyway, my understanding of the nature of EAI system development before reading your comment was that you must have someone like that at the top. It is not something that you are likely to achieve by throwing new hires at it. Btw, I suspect the BOI individual, who developed his whole career within BOI, would be under some contractual constraint not to go on to other banks and do the exact same for them. (Borne out by his new position).
I would be interested to hear your opinion on this, because as someone relatively new to software development, I really struggle to conceive of how development like this would be achieved once you go beyond a very small close-knit team. - Would the broad knowledge required of business issues and technical aspects be available at all? (For example I would suspect you would need a fairly deep knowledge of each data model of each individual system, probably proprietary to each individual bank, also real insight into how users of those systems actually use them, and that's well before you even get onto the technicalities (and art) of something like Sun Java Caps or whatever the equivalent is in banking.)
Or how would you actually do a project like this? Excuse my ignorance. I really know little of the world of banking, or even of software development in a large corporate environment. I'm only extrapolating from how I would personally work for smaller organisations.
The Bank of Ireland system implementation being referred to is called, with biblical appropriateness, Project Omega.
It involves the replacement of their aged, in-house developed core banking and bookkeeping system. It is simply an installation of Temenos' T24 "bank in a box" product with a bunch of other products from other vendors
The publically stated budget is €500 million. In reality this will be higher. Cap Gemini are the service provider. Because the Bank has outsourced most of its IT functions to third-parties: IBM for ITO, Accenture for projects and change and HCL for resourcing, there are few Bank resources to work on projects such as this. The budget will increase because of the costs these third-parties impose on such a project. The total project cost will be closer to €1 billion.
I certainly would not have selected Cap Gemini for a project of this size or complexity. Their track record does not justify it.
The Omega design process has been in train for 18 months. All they have delivered so far is a bunch of exotic PowerPoint presentations. It is not a particularly complex or spectacularly intelligent design. It does not evince some magnificent and wondrous brain power. It is not a design. It is the implementation of existing packaged products.
There are also significant gaps in the design, such as data architecture.
The Omega target landscape involves products from more than 10 other vendors with not well-defined boundaries. This is needed because of deficiencies in the T24 product suite. The integration and interoperation of these products is not well defined or elaborated in the design. For example T24 is very poor at AML/CFT/CDD and fraud and relies explicitly on third-party products.
Cap Gemini are forcing the agile snake oil down the throats of anyone involved in Omega. They are not even following a methodology such as SAFe. which might actually be useful for a large programme such as this.
This is Bank of Ireland's second attempt at a bank-in-a-box implementation. The previous attempt, over 10 years ago, was called ALNOVA (fondly called ALNEVER by those involved) . The work was by Accenture using a Spanish product they acquired. It is only in use in the Bank of Ireland joint venture with the UK Post Office. It was abandoned for Ireland after expenditure of hundreds of millions.
Large IT projects such as these are very risky. They impose great stress on the organisation through demands for resources, impact on budgets and the organisational change they bring with them. Organisations, like people and society, can only accommodate so much change. When the project starts to fail, run over schedule or budget, what happens is that the organisation narrows it focuses on the single large project and other initiatives are stopped or deferred. The organisation starts to exhibit all the characteristics groupthink.
All this has to happen while the Bank proceeds with other projects: MiFID II, IFRS 9 (both of which have hard deadlines), PSD2 and 4AMLD/FTR as well as operating as normal and maintaining existing systems and other smaller projects.
When you are spending this scale of money on a system implementation, common sense should tell you to consider some creative alternatives: buy a smaller new bank with good scalable IT systems and reverse yourself into them, buy an entire software company and dedicate their development team solely to your project.
Temenos is a relatively small company with annual turnover of just over USD600 million. Over the years, they have expanded the functionality of a fairly basic product through the acquisition of a large number of small companies whose products they have generally poorly integrated.
And just in case you thought all was well with the other large Irish bank, AIB, well its IT systems and processes are in even worse shape. AIB also tried to replace their core banking systems some time ago with disastrous outcomes.
AIB sued Oracle (http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/0131/aib.html
) for the failed implementation of their iFlex bank-in-a-box product.
AIB selected iFlex as their new banking solution for both commercial and retail banking. The commercial implementation programme was called Pentagon and it went reasonably well.
The retail implementation was called ACORN and was a complete disaster.
The reason why AIB selected the iFlex product is because it was forced on them by the ego of Steven Meadows who has since left - http://www.independent.ie/business/iris ... 64027.html
. His departure is the reason why the ACORN programme was finally cancelled.
Meadows worked in Citi group who developed the original product, spun it off to a separate company called iFlex that was then acquired by Oracle - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iflex
There is loads of material on Meadows and AIB trumpeting this stupid decision:http://www-01.ibm.com/software/info/tel ... 93N95.htmlhttps://www-950.ibm.com/events/wwe/grp/ ... cale=en_US
Even when ACORN was falling apart, Meadows insisted on pushing it through. No dissent was tolerated. The programme ate and spat out staff.
They recently completed IT outsourcing to InfoSys and WIPRO. Their procurement function even won an award for this. Meanwhile IT staff are leaving in large numbers with consequent pressures on IT systems and their operation and support.
So both large Irish banks that provide banking services to over 80% of the country are involved in risky IT initiatives. That has to represent a major operational risk. But don't worry. We have the best little regulator in the world overseeing this and making sure nothing can possibly go wrong. Paddy is safe. No RBS-like systems failure on the horizon here.