It started out to be a great day.

I had a tall, vanilla latte’ waiting for me this morning. My 5-month old son was in good spirits when I left for work. The commute to work was speedy and accident-free. It is a sunny, summer day in Seattle. I got settled at my desk, looking forward to putting in a productive day at work.

Then I checked my email.

I got reports that members couldn’t see their balances in Home Banking. A staff member logging into their personal account couldn’t make transfers. Another member couldn’t access their credit card…

Home Banking is down. My work begins.

8:39 a.m. I receive an email alert from our system vendor telling me we have lost real-time connectivity. This means when our members log-in, they won’t see up-to-date balances. They won’t be able to transfer funds between their accounts. They won’t be able to view their credit card. They will be able to pay bills online, but with limited functionality.

I send an alert out to staff letting know what’s going because we are sure to get a flood of calls to our Member Service Center. I then create an update on the website and send out an email to our eWallet account members.

I spend the next hour or so fielding staff and member questions and monitor my emails, hoping for good news and a quick fix for our Home Banking woes.

10:43 a.m. Another Update from our system vendor. They are still looking for the cause of the disconnection. Apparently, we are not the only ones experiencing this. All we can do is wait for them to get our connection back up as soon as possible. This could be a long weekend.

1:27 p.m. Good news, bad news. The good news is that our system provider has found the cause and that they are testing every one of their clients’ connections. The bad news is that until that is done, Home Banking is still not fully functional. I send another alert to staff and keep the notice on the website so members know what’s going on.

2:39 p.m. I finally get the official word from our system vendor that connectivity is back online. This means Home Banking is back! Time to alert staff and remove the message from the website.

2:54 p.m. Write about my day on Verity’s Blog.

Dealing with Home Banking downtimes and communicating the fact to staff and members is part of my job. It’s not fun being the bearer of bad news, but I like to think that I am looking out for our members and staff when I send out those emails and website messages. Sometimes I will call the vendor if I haven’t gotten an update in a while.

Most of the time, Home Banking issues are short-lived. But there are times, like today, when Home Banking downtimes go from minutes to hours. Sometimes I am frustrated because some technical issues must be placed in the hands of our system providers/vendors to get us back online and all I can do is wait. Meanwhile, I know more than half of our members use Home Banking and many of them are trying to get their bills paid or just wanting to see if a check cleared.

I take small comfort from the fact that we aren’t the only financial intuition that has to deal with online banking outages. It happens to the “big guys,” too. Take WAMU for example. Their online banking was down for FIVE days recently. It makes me wonder—is there really such a thing as 24-7 online banking access when we are forced to rely on a intricate network of computers, hardware, software, telephone lines and electricity? And, how does human error play into this? I’d be interested in hearing others’ thoughts about this.

Perhaps that is a topic to blog about some other time. Home Banking is back online and I’m now looking forward to my weekend.

Laurel McJannet

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