A Weekend in the Life of an Ops Team

By Israel Hersh, SVP Business Development, tekVizion

While majority of people gear up for a weekend filled of relaxation, dancing, and long nights of fun, an Ops team gears up for a weekend of walking the trading floor. The markets are closed, the trading floor has fallen silent; it’s the necessary environment for the Ops team to execute their work.

The reality for banks’ Operations teams is that the weekend is the only time when they can get access to the trading floor to carry out the all-important upgrades and testing of the business-critical voice trading system.

Traditionally manual, this task requires the team to test each and every turret. They quite literally ‘walk the floor,’ ensuring essential security patches and feature upgrades have been installed correctly and the system is working properly, so come Monday when the market reopens, things are smooth sailing.

But why should we care if these fixes and tests are being done over the weekend?  So long as they’re done, right?

Well no. There are significant labor costs as weekend hours require a premium as well as significant investments of time for the Ops team due to hours. Recruitment already is challenging across the financial services sector; these added factors increase the challenge significantly.

So, what’s the reality behind the dependence on an Ops team having to walk the floor?

Take an average sized trading floor; that’s typically about 1,000 turrets that need to be manually tested over a weekend. That translates into a team of 20-25 people having to come into the office on a Saturday and each spending 4-5 hours simply checking everything is still working.

And this assumes everything IS working. Finding something wrong impacts people’s time and labor costs, causing a snowball effect.

If the onsite team can’t identify the problem, they bring in on-call engineers. If these engineers can’t explain the reason for a failure and correct it, they have no choice other than to roll-back the software and schedule a repeat of walk the floor on Sunday with the previously working version. If that isn’t the definition of wasted time, effort and money, what is?

Banks, of course, try to keep to their own Ops teams as small as possible and augment them with specialist on-call engineering support from their vendors and SIs. However, with security patches going live every month, break/fix patches happening quarterly and feature releases occurring twice a year, maintaining the voice trading system is a costly business – even if everything is working properly.  If it isn’t, if issues are found and roll-backs and an update are required, these costs are quadrupled. Thus, the bank is left with no alternative but to pay for engineering resources at premium weekend rates.

Some may ask is there another way? Is it necessary for engineers to be surrendering their weekends to conduct manual testing of security patches and bug fixes? Is this really the sort of work they want to be doing? Is this mundane work something the bank wants to be spending its finite Ops budget on, when they could have an Ops team working family friendly hours?

The answer is automation.  Not only does automation mean that testing can be done in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost, it can also be done far more proactively.

This means the Ops team can now provide both a larger test coverage and greater predictability by always running the same test and same duration. This isn’t simply convenient, it delivers a real business benefit – a more reliable trading system with reduced downtime. And when downtime can cost a bank over $9 million every hour the system is offline, it can tangibly impact the bottom line.

Whereas manual testing makes sure the lights haven’t gone off, automated proactive testing makes sure the lights stay on.

By integrating test plans into areas such as audio recording compliance, banks can take proactive steps to ensure that the all-important recording systems are always online and fix issues before they become problems. Put simply, if a trade needs explaining it needs recording – and if you can’t record, you can’t trade.

Here lies an additional fundamental problem from relying on a weekend testing system. How do you test recordings if the trading floor is closed and therefore there is nothing to record?  Automated testing solutions such as tekVizion Automation means you can test media and check the recording. You’ve taken a significant leap towards greater compliance in just one step.

By augmenting manual testing with proactive automated testing, banks can reduce downtime, free up Ops time for innovation and value creation, and make a substantive improvement to the quality of life of their Ops teams.

For more information on how automated testing can help keep a trading floor online and compliant, go to https://www.ipc.com/resource-center/ipc-and-tekvizion/

 © 2021 IPC Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The contents of this publication are intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal or regulatory advice.