So Radio 4′s Money Box program was kind enough to interview me and broadcast some of the complaints myself and a great many others have about The Co-Operative Bank’s awful online business banking system.
The outcome of the program has been clear admission of the problems from John Hughes of The Co-op, news that the “completely new system” will be ready in Q2 2010, and that to improve the situation they’ve laid on an extra 20 call centre staff.
Apart from the admission – always nice to have – this is pitiful. 20 call center staff? How is that going to make online banking work for us over the next 6 months? Where were the hard facts? eg “The current system runs on N servers and that is simply not scalable for us, and we are moving to a system that we know will scale from A to at least B easily as we grow”. These are BASIC BASIC questions for an organisation like a bank to be able to answer.
Furthermore, there has been no mention of the “completely new system” already being repeatedly delayed – seemingly for years now. I and others were told many months ago that it was launching Oct/Nov 2009. Now its Q2/Spring 2010. What’s the betting we won’t see it in 2010 at all – after all these problems have existed for years now, why on earth is it taking so long?
What really irks me is that they are acknowledging the problem but giving no idea at all about who was responsible for the existing poor system, and who is putting together the new one. Presumably there was a massive management failure at Co-op when commissioning the previous system.
Are those managers still at the Co-op? Have they been retrained in scalable IT systems procurement?
Is the new team even fit to produce a high quality product? How can we as customers already neglected for years know that things will ever get better. The current system – we were told – was much better than the one before it. We customers beg to differ!
I looked at the board of directors of Co-op to see if we can contact them to write to them and explain that this repeated failure is going to kill their business banking business – and that they better be 10000% sure the new system is going to not only meet basic needs but actually wow us to restore the good faith we had.
However, there seems to be no Chief Technology Officer. In a bank, there is no CTO on the board of directors? Seriously? Is the problem actually that there is no coherent IT management right at the top of the bank’s board?
I’ve had a lot of new blog comments come in echoing the online banking problems with Co-op.
There’s also been some twitter coverage:
There were a lot more like this, presumably RT’s via BBC website.
At the end of the day, in my view this is a critical problem in the organisation. They pride themselves on ethics and a hence socially-minded outlook, making sure their staff are happy, and providing good customer service.
The problem is that somebody, once the Internet stuff started taking off, forgot that the Internet requires just this high level of customer service too, and you absolutely must put in the systems to guarantee this. Internet banking is not some 2nd-class add-on to phone banking. Well, it is at The Co-op for business customers.
I also notice people commenting that neither Smile nor personal Co-op online banking have seen any new features or improvements for years. This is absolutely true, and Co-op personal banking lags behind many other banks. We can’t search for payments/credits, we can’t filter by date ranges, we don’t have any way to set up automatic alerts/transfers under certain conditions.
UPDATE: story picked up by ComputerWorld and says the new system we are yet to see is called Finacle and is from Infosys
I’m just logging these FAILURES OF THE CO-OPERATIVE BUSINESS BANKING now to up the pressure and publicity… and get more comments from other users. There are already many comments on a prior post about the constant errors and NO_RESOURCE errors from Co-op biz web banking.
How come we can’t claim compensation for this? Because we can call up and wait 20min to be served?
- Try to log in, can’t. Says NO_RESOURCES error
- Try to log in again. Same
- Try to log in again. Same
- Try to log in. Succeed. Forwards me to “You MUST change you password” screen
- Annoyed, enter old and new passwords and submit. Says NO_RESOURCES error
- Have to log in again. Don’t know which password to use now. Try more than 5 times. Sometimes wrong credentials (I don’t know which is right now) and sometimes NO_RESOURCES
- Finally get in, and taken to “You MUST change you password” screen again
- Change password OK, and log in. Amen
[UPDATE: An hour later I try to log in to pay my accountant. Log in fine. Get to payment screen, go through the mindachingly awful UI to select a date range - did I mention they changed the default to showing all reports for "today" only to lessen system load? - Try to get list of previous payments... NO_RESOURCES. Returns me to login screen. Log in again, shows me I am "already logged in". Dashboard comes up, half page fails to load "Unable to find service BroadcastMessaging". It goes on....]
The book is invaluable if you’re interested in setting up or working for a startup, want to know how the hirers and firers think, and really pretty much anything about internet-related business.
The “collection of articles” nature of it means there is a little repetition in places, but Guy’s writing style is entertaining and clear – this isn’t a dull tome of pseudo-scientific business speak – and the repetition serves to drive the message home.
I didn’t think I’d be interested in the “hiring and firing” stuff, nor the stuff related to patents or VC funding etc but it turns out everything in there is extremely interesting, with a real world perspective.
I’m going to be using this new-found insight on a startup project I’m working on at the moment. Let’s see if we can pull it off, with a bit of help from Guy.
As a side note, Guy looks insanely youthful and is successful so he must have done some kind of deal with the devil. Especially since his increasing tendency to have minion post tweets that feel more and more like pyramid selling each week… come on Guy can you get it a bit more real please?
We had some snow today – not enough to sledge in, but enough to make you go “ahh”.
It looks good on the “Grails shack” where I work during the day for my clients and churn out Grails plugins as part of Grails Rocks (what is it? Who knows at the moment) the rest of the time… not including the times when I’m sitting next to my wife in the house working on my laptop instead of being with her, an unfortunate consequence of Grails enthusiasm.
The “shack” is built out of green oak pulled out of a local river, green larch from a local saw mill, cedar roof shingles and some standard pine timber by a local artist called Denius Parsons. I’ve been in it for a year now. I’ve still got to paint the window frames and do some work on the internal floor but… its -2C outside and snowing, and with the killer insulation I need a 400W electric heater on only occasionally. It did the -8C in January without wind/damp fine, felt warmer than today with the -2C and snow.
It’s a lovely place to work, thank you Denius!
Not much more than a week has passed, and we’re onto 1.2 already. 1.1 had excessive debug output I left in by mistake…
It is in the plugin repo now, and “grails install-plugin functional-test” should work.
The docs at http://grails.org/Grails+Functional+Testing have been updated – there were several errata but there are also new features and one breaking change. I know, we started at 1.0 but … its a good change and few people will be affected at this point
Setting the value of selects, checkboxes and radio button groups is now just a simple property assignment. So where before you had:
radioOptions.checked = “option3″
You now just have:
Which is more consistent with other field access.
Also the test output files contain useful information about followed redirects and values set and items clicked, for when you need to debug a failing test!
Here’s the changelog from JIRA:
GRAILSPLUGINS-771 FIXED Add support for getting/setting textarea fields
GRAILSPLUGINS-773 FIXED Enable redirect following by default, and add property to turn it off
GRAILSPLUGINS-779 FIXED Sometimes requests will not update the current page data
GRAILSPLUGINS-783 FIXED Allow resolution of form buttons by VALUE if no element can be found by id/name
GRAILSPLUGINS-781 FIXED Allow user to clear the CSS+JS cache during a test
GRAILSPLUGINS-784 FIXED Breaking change – make it so that setting value of checkbox/radio/selects does not need x.checked or x.select
GRAILSPLUGINS-786 FIXED Improve output captured so that headers and assignments to fields are easily seen
GRAILSPLUGINS-785 FIXED Provide access to cookies and enabled/disable cookies
GRAILSPLUGINS-788 FIXED Rework it so that redirects that are followed show in output and correct request method shown for redirect after POST
Enjoy! Thanks to Peter for the work on Grails 1.1 compat.