If you screw up the computer systems then you don't get your bonus for not screwing up the computer systems

The very idea that people should get a bonus for doig their job has its critics. But when people are promised a bomus for doing something, then they fail to do that thing, we’re rather allowed to insist that they don’t get that bonus, aren’t we? Which is good here at the TSB. The CEO has revealed that he won’t be getting his bonus for managing a computer integration project given that he didn’t manage the computer integration project.

Which is, as I say, rather good really:

The chief executive of TSB today vowed to give up a £1.6million bonus following the IT fiasco which left millions locked out of their accounts – but could still receive his annual bonus.

TSB CEO Peter Pester has already received a bumper bonus of £2m for the project in 2016, ahead of its completion – but has given up his ‘integration bonus’.

That does seem appropriate, doesn’t it, given this?

However, customers began experiencing problems with their accounts on Monday 23 April after the bank – now owned by Spanish lender Sabadell – migrated from an IT system inherited from the previous owner, Lloyds Banking Group.

Sabadell had hoped to make more than £100m in annual savings by using the new system, known as Proteo in apparent reference to Proteus, a Greek god of the sea often associated with change.

Pester insisted the switch to the new system had been rigorously tested beforehand and was “running smoothly” for the most part but that it was struggling to deal with high levels of demand.

“It’s the equivalent of having a shop that’s too small to let the number of customers in,” he said.

Well, you could say that. Others would say that it was just appallingly managed. Not enough testing was done to make sure that the switch was going to work.

There’s no doubt that the switch needed to be made though. It’s not just about saving money on the use of the old Lloyds systems. It’s that the old systems are really, really, bad. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere recently:

TSB needed to change its computing systems – that much was obvious, since it was still running on legacy systems from its former parent, Lloyds Bank. But that’s part of how the entire banking industry runs, isn’t it? On a series of ageing legacy systems lashed together with sealing wax and spit. Varied mergers over the years have left incompatible systems trying to talk to each other and almost no one has a single and unified system covering all issues and market areas.

We’d all just rather prefer that the switch was done with a little more rigour.

Still, as above, this is good news:

TSB chief executive Paul Pester will give up his “integration bonus” following the IT meltdown at the bank but his full pay and bonus package will not be decided until the end of the year, the Treasury Committee has heard.

For what happens all too often is that when a bonus target is missed the target gets fudged so that the bonus still gets paid. Here at least we’ve got some of that rigour we’d perhaps prefer to have been applied to the whole process but we do indeed have some rigour. Target missed? No cash for you Sunny Jim.

Which is, of course, the way it should be.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. It is “running smoothly” for the most part, merely unable to serve at once all the customers who need service. Therefore, I will take one of my bonuses but leave the other one on the table in pennance. Not only did CEO Peter (or is it chief executive Paul?) not manage the integration, the board is not managing him!

    Tim, after the sub-editors sort out the guy’s name, maybe they can proofread your lede.

  2. Legacy banking systems may not do all the integration stuff but usually the individual bits do what they are supposed to. Change is what breaks things in computerland. And it is hard to replace stuff when the folks who wrote it are (forcibly) retired or (involuntarily) dead. And where are the specs of something written in the 60s? And who can spec it now, with all the legacy requirements (cheque sorters?) still there?

    • It may be that the individual bits didn’t break at all, perhaps they still did what they were supposed to, when individual testers “rigorously” put them through their paces, and only failed when run at full client workload.

      A lot of software was specced or rewritten in December 1999 during the gigantic wave of make-work to ensure everything would not break at once on the Y2K rollover.

      • In my recollection there was so much to look at that the bits that worked were left alone except for date format changes. Wasn’t a great problem in the shop I worked at then and we had the programmers who specced it and wrote it recently enough that the 2K problem was taken into account. I wonder if anyone then really did anything with thirty-year-old Cobol but fix the date fields.

  3. But they’ve got it the wrong way around. The CEO is saying the he is *chosing* to not take his bonus. It shouldn’t be a choice. There should be no bonus available at all regardless of his choice.

    • I would assume the conditions on which the CEO gets his bonus are given in writing – revenue, profitability, customer numbers, overall satisfaction, blah, blah. If he fulfilled those targets he’s entitled to his bonus; if the bank neglected to include “keeping the computers running”, that’s their problem.