HBOS has rolled out a software testing programme across three of its four major IT departments in a programme to designed to reduce the number of errors in thousands of applications it builds every year.
The bank has begun using industry-standard Testing Maturity Model (TMM) in its corporate IT and insurance and investment divisions, following a successful pilot in retail banking in 2006.
The project is likely to lead to major savings by helping HBOS catch software errors early. According to analyst firm Ovum, the cost of fixing bugs increases exponentially at each stage of the development process. Half of errors are found at the requirement specification stage of development, it said.
The programme, which focuses on software quality management and testing, will help HBOS avoid the problems associated with software failures in live environments, enable it to benchmark its processes, and make it easier to repeat the model across the entire company.
John Cantley, senior project manager of HBOS corporate IT, said the ability to identify software defects early on was an important advantage of TMM.
"TMM struck us as a model suitable for detecting defects early and ultimately in preventing defects," he said. "If you take defects out of the process early on you can accelerate software development and testing."
TMM takes into account other stages of the development process such as preparation, requirement specification, design and coding.
HBOS hired TMM specialist consultancy Experimentus in 2006 to help it adopt the TMM methodology. Allan Woodcock, head of retail IT central testing team, said it chose Experimentus because it was an expert in TMM, which is a rigid framework.
"Interruptions in service can cost thousands of dollars per minute in industries that rely on financial dealing systems," said Ovum.
Bola Ratibi, principal analyst at Macehiter Ward-Dutton, said financial services companies can make huge losses if software fails.
"The cost of replacing and fixing technology is high, and it also damages your reputation and brand."
Ratibi said few companies have openly said they are using TMM. The project should pay financial dividends and enhance HBOS' reputation, he said.
Julian Clarke, director at Experimentus, said HBOS is one of the first major UK banks to use TMM. "There are a lot using Capability Maturity Model (CMMi) but it does not go into the required detail for software testing and quality."