While quality of service remains uncompromised, cost pressures on self-service banking projects are inevitably increasing in light of the economic situation. The majority of respondents (61%) said that tighter control of budgets was the biggest change in priorities since the onset of the financial crisis. Banks must now balance the need to maximise their budgets against the requirement for a complete end-to-end testing strategy that tackles the true complexity of the ATM.
The extent of testing required to maintain the integrity of the channel is commonly underestimated and all too often banks deploy outdated processes to an environment that has dramatically evolved. With the migration to Windows-based networks and the need to integrate a continuous stream of software releases and functionality upgrades, banks are faced with an increasing number of scenarios to test. Failure to address this fundamental testing paradigm shift will compromise banks' ability to deliver on their intention to reduce network downtime.
This focus on addressing the fundamentals of the ATM is reflected in a comparison of the results year-on-year, which shows a marked shift in where banks are placing their efforts. Rolling out new services at the ATM was the second most cited priority last year but appeared bottom of the list this year. Instead, integrating the ATM channel with other banking channels moved to second place.
Furthermore, over half (53%) of banks do not currently outsource their testing function, highlighting the potential that this market still holds for specialist test outsourcers, particularly the large India-based providers.
Martin Macmillan, business development director at Level Four, comments: "Banks clearly recognise the importance of ATM availability but the results show that the issue is far from resolved. The increased emphasis on costs, the move away from introducing new services, and the shift to integrating the ATM with their multi-channel strategy suggests that resources are being focused more intently on the core basics - namely, maintaining quality of service through the ATM and ensuring it is effectively integrated with the rest of their operations.
"Unified testing of the ATM service can help meet this aim. With the increased efficiencies through greater automation, this can deliver significant financial returns rather than be an expensive commitment. Moreover, outsourcing has received increased attention in the last year, given its ability to help control costs. However, if this approach is to be successful, effective communications, transfer of skills and tight project management must be carefully thought through."