Bespoke software faults costly for finance firms

A new survey suggests that failures of homegrown software costs some financial institutions as much as £5,000 an hour.

Mission critical, bespoke software is prone to failure at UK banks or financial institutions, and costs some as much as $10,000 (4,900) an hour, according to research.

The Vanson Bourne study, sponsored by Managed Objects, surveyed 103 IT managers from insurance and banking companies in the UK.

Despite such heavy management, 57 per cent of those surveyed said each outage caused by bespoke software failing cost $10,000 an hour. Over three-quarters said they've had such an outage in the past year, while 23 per cent said they have had over six such outages over the same period.

"We're not sure how to interpret that $10,000, but believe they're talking about salaries," said Jim White, business technologist for Managed Objects. "I can't believe it reflects loss of business...this is human cost, the cost to business is much bigger but hard to estimate."

The most common cause of outages was application changes. This is disturbing because nearly a third of financial organisations make 50 such changes every week.

"Making that number of changes, even with just one per cent chance of going wrong, you'll have problems every fortnight," White said. "Software is more problematic than hardware, we see that across sectors... It reflects the high quality of hardware, while software leaves something to be desired."

Because of the trouble with software, many sectors simply opt for packaged applications. "I think wherever possible today, organisations would take packaged software," he said. "It's higher quality and lower cost... not many people would make their own email package these days, but homegrown tends to be for core competencies."

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