The IT department was run in a very autocratic way. It was relatively small and consisted of a CIO, three senior managers, a quality assurance manager and a training manager. In total the IT department consisted of 110 employees. Only the CIO and three senior managers made decisions and gave direction in terms of what projects should be initiated and what their priorities were. Knowledge about the most important mainframe and smaller office systems was very rare. Only a few systems analysts, who worked for the bank's IT department since its establishment, were in the privileged position to know the technical details about those systems and how to maintain them. In most cases no documentation existed for systems, and if documentation did exist, it was not reliable.
There was what could be called a large culture gap between the personnel of the IT department and its end users which was characterized by distrust, skepticism and cynicism. This culture gap had a very negative impact on the relationship between IT professionals and their end users and, as such, their ability to produce service and support of high quality.
The following information technology architecture was in place in the early '90s:
Roughly 11 main systems, including batch systems as well as real-time systems, were in use.
These systems consisted of packages as well as in-house developed systems for both mainframe and microcomputer systems. External contractors also developed some. The systems were developed and implemented on different software platforms.
About 75 branches situated throughout the country had local area networks at their disposal, though they were neither standardized with respect to the hardware nor with respect to the software.
All the LANs of the different branches were attached to the mainframe system.
Communication between the different systems was imperative, and for this purpose numerous interfaces between the relevant systems were constructed.
Some sections had their own microcomputer systems at their disposal and had no interfaces with the other systems. In most cases such interfaces were indeed required.
No structured techniques or standards were applied during systems development. In fact, no discipline with regard to the application of generally accepted systems development principles existed.
No quality control was applied in any phase of the systems development process. The typical problems experienced by IT professionals and end users were as follows:
A large number (± 11) skills eventually had to be available in order to be able to maintain all the different systems architectures.
The maintenance teams were relatively small (even as small as one person in some cases), resulting in personnel having to be on permanent stand-by.
The maintenance level on virtually all systems was exceptionally high.
Hardly any new development projects could be undertaken. Whenever a new project was undertaken, knowledge of a wide spectrum of systems was required in order to accomplish meaningful integration between the various systems.
This inevitably resulted in inferior software product output.
Top management believed that the unsatisfactory progress in the development of new products and the large backlog that existed could be attributed to the structural composition of the Department of Information Technology. Accordingly the structure of the whole department, or parts thereof, was altered as often as once every three months.
The structural changes gave rise to anxiety among development personnel, which had a negative influence on their morale. This inevitably led to deficient productivity in the Department of Information Technology.
User satisfaction was on a very low level as a result of most of the above-mentioned problems.
In due course the previously mentioned problems triggered a large amount of turbulence among IT personnel of which the following were of the most important:
A high turnover in IT personnel
Complaints about unsatisfactory working hours
Unhappy and unmotivated IT personnel