Don Hamlin is a retired software development manager who spent his career developing and maintaining custom software for banks and other financial organizations. Though he’s been out of the game for a few years now, Don is willing to bet the same issues he encountered during his years of development are still looming in the slow-changing financial industry. In today’s guest blog, Don walks us through one of the most common bottlenecks he encountered and how individuals and companies can work together to overcome the challenge.
Large banks do present challenges. I retired from banking in 2004 so this could be outdated, but I doubt it. Banks are very compartmentalized. Security … at least six people; project managers … oh yeah; developers … galore. So how do you break into this gang of 100s, all located in different parts of the country?
If there is one thing that is true of projects in general, it’s that they nearly always run behind schedule. True with most organizations. Definitely true with banks. Banks are great at producing enterprise projects but not good at being adaptable, flexible or on time. Augmenting testing would be a true asset for any bank and would help recover from project slippage. Documentation of test cases and bugs would be mandatory. Banks were (and I am betting still are) crazy for documentation. Being able to solve this problem in a way banks can understand and are comfortable will not only help the organization, it’s your in.
During the great Y2K conversion (yes, it was a long time ago!) I outsourced some of our coding needs to Bangalore. I thought it would be a good thing. The work was drudgery, no one wanted to do it and it kept getting postponed. Well the same programmers on my staff that complained about having to do the work then whined about my outsourcing the job. Lesson learned: Never ask a developer if they want outside help!
In my mind (then and now) success will come with finding a manager who is forward thinking AND has the authority to authorize outside help, especially when it comes to testing. Banks realize there is a lot of available help, but not everyone within the organization has the authority to act on it. Having someone in place who can recognize when help is needed AND has the authority to act on that need is key. If you want to be that person, do your research on who is truly the right person to contact to gain entry, don’t just pick a random name from within a large bank. Internalize the greatest catch line an outside consultant used on me, “I am here to make you look good!”