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That tech community thrives on an open exchange of ideas, working together across teams and geographies to gain insight and inspiration from one another. And the sheer diversity of work we do creates huge opportunities for our people to plot varied and highly individual career paths across our business.
One team, more than any other, knits together our entire tech community. Group Technology Service Management (or GTSM, as it’s known) supports the production environment for the entire bank. GTSM resolves issues for tech users across the globe, whether that means providing helpdesk advice on a problem with a laptop or dealing with a systems failure that affects millions of customers.
With over 2000 people spread across all our locations worldwide, and a similar number of colleagues offering internal helpdesk support, GTSM are the beating heart of technology operations at Barclays. Our teams in Pune, India; Radbroke, UK; Whippany, US, work closely together, and follow the sun, to ensure that our production environment is being monitored, maintained and protected 24/7/365.
“GTSM teams support all the users, across every part of the bank, on every kind of tech. We work to ensure that every application, every colleague, every customer is up and running at all times," explains Ilker Yaman, Head of Group Technology Service Management.
That’s a huge undertaking. Not least because so many of our applications are connected to one another. A single tech issue can impact a whole host of systems and a whole raft of customer-facing products and services at once. Finding a solution can be just as complex. GTSM coordinate the response to a major tech issue, bringing in hardware and software experts from across the business, managing internal clients, setting priorities and keeping everyone informed.
If anything’s impacting our systems globally, we’ll be the first to know. And then we’ll manage that incident on behalf of everyone else
Take any given Sunday. There’s no major trading activity in the Markets on the weekend, so it’s a time when tech teams can make systems updates and improvements. The first major market to open again is Japan, at around 11pm UK time on Sunday night. Before that, GTSM teams are testing the entire environment to ensure that everything is up and running again.
Ilker picks up the story here. “Not so long ago, the checks on Sunday afternoon revealed issues with storage and network. But we didn’t initially know what the problem was or where it was coming from. We had a matter of hours to diagnose and fix things before trading recommenced. We had to get colleagues in on their day off, coordinate around 100 people in six countries working on the solution and keep senior people in the business appraised of the issue.”
Ilker’s team got the trading systems back up well before the deadline. And they were there to support the traders throughout the next day, in case there was any further fall out. “Fortunately, the traders arrived on Sunday night (UK time) and had no idea anything had gone wrong.”
That’s what the teams at GTSM call proactive remediation. The other side of the coin is reactive. And that’s when things start going wrong live. “Take the Barclays banking app. If we see that there are 3000 people an hour logging in, rather than the usual 300,000, we know there’s an issue. The approach is the same. But this time things are even more urgent. Every minute that we’re not available, we’re disappointing customers. My team is the central function that contacts all the technology and business teams to say we potentially have a problem. Then we bring together all the people needed to diagnose and cure the issue, managing the process until it’s fully resolved.”
To take the lead on these incidents, GTSM colleagues need to understand the teams which need to be involved and the workflows they are supporting. They have to build strong relationships and speak in the language of their users. But they also need a laser-focus on keeping things up and running.
If there’s an issue with an application, an engineer will want to take the whole thing apart and understand why it went wrong. We just want it fixed. Quickly - so that we minimise impact to our customers and colleagues.
It’s this focus on production that has helped to professionalise and raise the profile of GTSM and its people. As the number of critical systems that Barclays relies on every day has expanded, and as the tech expectations of our customers and clients has grown exponentially, there’s more and more recognition for the vital role of service management.
The individual Tech support teams were traditionally spread out across different functions across the bank globally. By bringing those teams together under the GTSM umbrella, standardising our approach and creating professional career paths with industry certifications, we’ve harnessed the diverse knowledge and expertise of support people across Barclays into a powerful strategic service management discipline.
This in turn has made GTSM a place where tech people with the right skills and personality can genuinely build exciting careers.
We look for people with interpersonal and problem-solving skills. People with the common sense and energy to focus on the best outcomes and resolve issues quickly
Tech skills are, to some extent, of secondary importance. “We can teach people about our technology and also train, helping them get certified on leading new technologies. But you can’t teach the tenacity, composure and people skills we need. A lot of our people have deep tech knowledge. They could be developers if they liked. But they don’t want to code all day. They want to be out in the business, interacting with people and solving problems.”
All this exposure to the business, and stakeholder management across the entire bank, prepares GTSM people for broad internal mobility, as well as roles in leadership. Ilker makes it clear why.
Our people are calm and coordinated. They keep a cool head in a crisis. They understand how our world works and learn to decide what’s most important.
The variety on offer makes GTSM an attractive prospect to a more diverse talent base than many tech career paths. And, as GTSM teams are based around the world, there are significant international opportunities for talented people who want them.