Clearing house Voca has gone live with its replacement for the Bacs payment engine, successfully completing a four-year IT change programme across the UK banking industry.
The £100m project began in 2002 with the roll-out of the Bacstel-IP secure online payment service. It was completed last week when Voca switched from its legacy systems to the Voca Payments Engine, which handles automated banking transactions.
Key to the project's success was planning and close collaboration with member banks and suppliers to ensure the new system, which processes 90% of salaries in the UK, was introduced smoothly.
Nick Masterson-Jones, director of IT at Voca, said, "We were careful to ensure our plans were achievable by the banking industry." Voca even insisted that its key suppliers put forward a UK board-level sponsor for the project.
Voca decided that because of the complexity of the project and its importance to the national infrastructure, it would develop the core Java code in-house. Ancillary components were outsourced to Perot Systems, with Voca's in-house analysts flown over to India to help Perot software developers resolve requirements ambiguities.
Voca used Prince2 and Rational Unified Process methodologies in the project management and software development processes. Masterson-Jones said, "We had to build a level of quality in the development process which was externally reviewed to be in line with Safety Integrity Level 3," a standard used in the development of safety-critical systems such as railway signalling.
Masterson-Jones also separated the testing team from the development team; each was assigned its own programme manager, making code development and code delivery independent processes.
The Voca Payments Engine runs on a cluster of Sun Fire 25000 Ultrasparc servers using an Oracle 10g database and the BEA Weblogic 8.1 application server.
Project at a glance
October 2002 Bacstel-IP goes live on time and under budget
2003-2005 Voca supports banking industry's migration to Bacstel-IP
November 2004 ToDDaSO4 goes live to support automated transfer of direct debits and standing orders
May 2005 Reference data goes live, replacing old distributed reference data system
Autumn 2005 Parallel running of Voca Payments Engine with legacy system
July 2006 Voca Payments Engine goes live.
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