With the rapid rise in digitisation, real-time payments environments have become increasingly complex and can be difficult to manage on a day-to-day basis because of the significant amount of monitoring data they produce. This means constant attention is needed to deliver the required level of service.
While the need for automation is well understood and there is a proliferation of tools available to assist with the process, organisations still face many challenges. This is largely because monitoring and operation management automation are reactive in nature and focused primarily on identifying problems once they exist, rather than preventing them. They are typically monitored by a network operations centre (NOC) that specialises in infrastructure as opposed to the payment systems that run on those systems.
For example, all payments systems monitor transaction volumes, response times, response codes, settlement processes and a long list of other obvious (and necessary) data points. However, that information only indicates that the system is currently performing according to expectation – it does not go one step further and analyse future performance and overall health of the environment.
Seeking a comprehensive solution
There are many underlying (and possibly less assessable) information points available that give deep insights into the true state and potential future state of the environment. This can be likened to the difference between a medical check-up at your local GP where he listens to your heart rate and takes your blood pressure versus blood tests looking in detail for anomalies.
When it comes to payments systems, these deeper insights include monitoring the allocation of system resources between application processes and identifying specific software components that form bottlenecks in the transaction processing chain.
The primary reason why these data points are ignored is because specialised knowledge and hands on experience are required to extract real value from the flood of data made available. For many organisations that lack specific expertise, it is much easier to focus on the obvious monitoring information and ensure a quick response when problems do occur as opposed to proactively identifying manifesting issues allowing for remediation in a timely low impact, low risk manner.
The result of this approach is, however, a significant risk. Preventable problems can occur at any point, and the impact is unpredictable.
Specialised automated solutions focused on operational risk management, like Stanchion’s SwitchCare offering, are starting to become more common. The basic concept is simple. The solutions regularly (often weekly) gather as much system information (no sensitive data) as possible and submit this to a central data warehouse.
Using a payment-specific rules engine, the new and historical data sets are then scanned to identify issues or concerning trends using pre-defined and customisable system thresholds. The end goal is to produce a list of actionable insights and recommendations that allow for the pre-emptive remediation of issues.
The key of course lies in the breadth and depth of the trend analysis implemented within the rules engine. It often takes many years to gain the necessary experience and knowledge before real value can be extracted and tangible service level improvements realised. However, the long-term positive impact to system reliability, predictability and lowered operational risk is worth the short-term effort.
The benefits of SwitchCare
Stanchion’s comprehensive SwitchCare offering ensures that your Payments Switch can be managed optimally, complementing your operational team with expert knowledge, skills and best-of-breed tools.
Stanchion’s team of SwitchCare experts work with your organisation to identify the specific areas where improvements are needed and fills the gaps with specialised skills and tools to ensure operational risk can be managed effectively and efficiently 24x7x365. This includes specialised services such as periodic system health checks of the payments environment specifically aimed at identifying trends that might require preventative action.
SwitchCare delivers a range of business benefits, including immediate pressure relief for overburdened teams, access to global operational management expertise and the elimination of “key man” risks.