e-testing Blog

How Software Testing Consultancy Could Have Avoided NatWest’s IT Troubles

Natwest BankNatWest found themselves back in the headlines last week in light of further IT failures, this time affecting users of the bank’s mobile app. On the final day of February – Payday for the majority of Brits – many unhappy NatWest customers were left unable to use the mobile banking app. A spokesman for NatWest blamed “record mobile banking usage” for the issue that led to many of the bank’s customers taking to social media to vent their ongoing frustrations with NatWest digital banking service;

@NatWest_Help why do your app problems always happen on payday? :( — Alison Morgan                                      (@perfumegirl74) February 28, 2014

But this isn’t the first time that NatWest have found themselves struggling with their IT infrastructure in recent times. A more prominent example of the bank’s failure to properly invest in quality of its IT services can be found back in 2012 when the bank temporarily lost track of how much money should be in individual accounts.

The bank’s problems started with an update of a key piece of software CA – 7.  The problems went deep and the company’s systems were down for days, leaving customers wondering how such a big bank could suffer such a loss of service. The truth is that the software update should never have gone live.  Software testing consultancy could have avoided the disaster by ensuring that the software was tested throughout the development process and bugs fixed as they occurred before problems developed.

Software Testing Consultancy Can Help to Avoid Serious IT Problems

The CA-7 software that caused the problems for NatWest works to control batch processing systems that deal with transactions made in retail banking. CA – 7 is commonly used to automate large sequences of batch mainframe work.  The program works through a series of jobs, with each dependent upon the prior job completing successfully.  The different jobs take data from transactions at ATMs and bank-to-bank transfers and update master copies of each customer’s bank account.

Unfortunately, an update to CA- 7 was released that corrupted the files that hold the schedule for the overnight jobs the system was supposed to perform. As a result of these corrupted files, the overnight jobs either failed to run or did not run correctly for a total of three nights.  All of the millions of transactions that occurred during this time period were not processed.

While the bank was able to revert back to the working version of CA-7 in order to restart the overnight jobs, that left it playing catch-up and left customers concerned that the bank didn’t know what deposits or withdrawals they’d made.

Unfortunately, this IT failure shows that even the most experienced of programmers can make a simple mistake when updating code. A simple error can affect the operation of the entire software program, as occurred here where the mistake in programming in an update ended up making software stop working that had been operating successfully for a long time.

This experience shows the importance of rigorous software testing, especially in situations where the operation of a program is pivotal to the successful operation of a business.

Experts who specialise in software testing can guide your business with software testing best practices – from the development stages right through to go live, establishing a testing framework to prevent problems.



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