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How to Build a Reliable Software System in an Unpredictable Environment?

Nenad Kovačević, Lead Developer

Today, there is almost no business that does not rely on technology and software solutions. It’s not only about products and services, but rather about the fact that software, various applications, and solutions are the foundation of the entire business, serving as tools for everyday operations. A basic example is email. Nowadays, almost every aspect of business is digitized and connected to some software and/or analytics. To better illustrate the issue addressed in this text, we will discuss it on the basis of the banking sector and our own experience.

What makes the bank functional

The core of a banking system is the foundation of all business activities of any banking institution. It contains the essence of operations, from customer data to all transactions. In other words, it is a system that centralizes all necessary customer information, enabling the operation of personalized products for an enhanced user experience. It handles all financial and operational activities such as risk management, financial assets, mobile and online payments, as well as the numerous internal records and tools used by both customers and bank employees. Therefore, the core banking system is the heart of the financial institution and must have a high responsiveness to all internal and external queries.

This leads us to the fact that a reliable core, or rather a reliable software system, is essential for any successful bank. The core is what makes the bank functional. A reliable system enables the provision of the best possible user experience, making the entire business trustworthy and efficient. A reliable system is efficient, cost-effective, and easily and quickly accessible. On the other hand, the system must also be secure, especially in the context of the financial sector when third-party services such as online and digital payments are involved. It is a system that needs to function flawlessly 24/7, just like online shops and various other applications that have become a part of the modern lifestyle and are relying on a software in the background.

 In the context of maintaining such a system, it is crucial to ensure the infrastructure that is always fully operational. Furthermore, providing and retaining adequate staff is necessary for maintaining and improving such a system.

Perspective of a development team

The key challenge for anyone developing software or just implementing it into business is to create a reliable software system. The challenge lies in the unpredictable conditions that arise in the operational part, which is exposed to new challenges every day. Service interruptions are very difficult to prevent. Although most risks can be assessed and mitigated in advance, there are still situations that no one can control.

Looking at it from the perspective of a development team, for example, an outsourced development team, they are the ones who need to react quickly and resolve the problem within a short period of time, ensuring that the system remains operational. Outsourced teams that maintain and improve the core system are typically composed of reliable individuals with extensive experience. This is essential, not only for customer satisfaction, but also for the overall business - from the stress such situations impose on employees to financial losses when operations are halted. Therefore, outsourced partners as providers of such services have stable teams with rich experience in software development, specific business processes, and the industry itself.

How to handle interruptions

Despite all the knowledge and preparation, interruptions in the core system can still occur, so it is important to know how to handle such situations. Based on experience, we have learned several key things that can be useful to you, regardless of the industry you work in.

Effective maintenance

One of the key parameters for resolving incidents quickly is the process of monitoring and reporting issues. The English terms "help desk" and "ticketing" are commonly used, but they refer to a system that enables tracking of each request and timely reporting of its status, whether it pertains to the software or hardware part of the system. Having a good tool for this purpose puts you on the right path to establishing effective maintenance.

When choosing among various help desk tools, it is crucial to ensure that the selected tool aligns well with your processes and procedures. For instance, using a ticketing system to submit requests for new functionalities is a very practical way to track those requests. Additionally, this allows you to centralize all requests and have a clear overview of their statuses. To make this even better, we have implemented a practice where clients provide descriptive information and as many details as possible when submitting requests or tickets. This is essential for thorough analysis and understanding of the root causes of problems. Once the team takes on a task, we continuously update the status or the progress of the assignment, and when the problem is resolved, it becomes easy to notify everyone that a specific incident has been resolved.

Minimizing incidents

In addition to the operational and communication aspects, it is important to constantly work on improving the reliability of the system. Of course, the ultimate goal is to minimize incidents to the point where they are almost non-existent. From the perspective of the teams responsible for maintaining such a complex and large-scale system, it is important to analyze each problem and learn from it.

Furthermore, based on that analysis, proactive measures have been taken to prevent incidents from occurring. In this context, we focus heavily on the quality of our service, striving to extend the system's uptime. We are deeply committed to studying all aspects of a problem when it arises, thoroughly examining the root causes using an approach we have developed over the years, which has proven to be the most comprehensive. Learning from mistakes is important; it is even better to learn from the mistakes of others. In any case, the most important thing is to strive to find ways to prevent problems from occurring.

Effective communication

Unforeseen failures or issues are inevitable, especially for computer systems. Just remember Murphy's Law: a problem will arise at the most inopportune moment for you (or the client). This brings us to another crucial aspect: communication. Timely and transparent communication with all stakeholders is equally important. Communication among team members and with clients is equally essential.

Establishing effective communication between the client and the team ensures that the client is satisfied with the communication process and enjoys it, whether it is part of everyday work or problem-solving. A development team of this kind understands the sense of urgency and grasps the broader business context. The development team must truly understand the client's expectations. I  

Structured team

Moreover, all team members need to be well-connected and aligned. Therefore, when assembling a team, technical knowledge, personality, and social skills are equally important. Social skills particularly come into play when involving other departments. It is important to have a quality exchange of information to ensure smooth and timely operations. Specifically, my team takes incidents very seriously. We employ well-structured communication and monitoring methods, both during the incident resolution process and in our day-to-day work. We utilize these methods to inform users about service disruptions and share the latest updates regarding the incident. Therefore, clients should feel like their problem is our problem. Communication and collaboration with our clients have helped us build mutual trust for long-term relationships and successful business operations.

Furthermore, we are dedicated to using proven practices that ensure high-quality software development and maintenance services, guaranteeing that each step and the entire process are optimized, efficient and highly reliable. If I had to highlight two things crucial for building a reliable business software system that have the greatest impact on system stability in unpredictable conditions, they would be communication and proven practices.

Client Testimonial - Core Banking System Outsourced

Our Client decided to migrate to a new core banking solution. However, as migration is long and complex, they needed a trustworthy partner to maintain the current system and develop new required functionalities until the new system was ready.

For more information about our expertise in finance industry, download our Expertise Sheet.

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