Building bridges in DC Administration

Someone earlier this week told me DC pensions administration is easier than DB administration.  I hear that a lot, but then I see quite a few examples that tell me DC administration must be difficult…..

London Bridge is a bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It was built in the 1830s and formerly spanned the River Thames in London, England. It was dismantled in 1967 and relocated to Arizona. The bridge was purchased by Robert P. McCulloch from the City of London.

The bridge was carefully dismantled, brick by brick, and transported to Arizona. It was placed on firm foundations that could support it for the purpose it was intended. Using a detailed specification based on an understanding of how the blocks should be configured, it was rebuilt. 

The bridge still stands there today, and supports all the people who now cross over it. It was not an easy job but the combination of solid foundations (good quality, fit for purpose scheme data) and a clear specification that guided configuration of the bridge (calculation programming, implementation etc.) means if it was a DB scheme it would be an efficient and stable platform, allowing its ‘users’ to get from one end to the other without falling in the water.

Contrast this with moving a couple of suitcases…..

When Heathrow T5 opened, staff had problems with the car park, then computer problems, then problems with baggage handling. However, it was soon clear the major problems were with baggage reclaim, with some passengers having to wait as long as two-and-a-half hours to collect their cases. By lunch time the knock-on effect of all the problems lead British Airways to cancel 20 flights - a figure which later increased to 34. Then a luggage belt failed and chaos ensued.

I’m no expert on baggage handling but it seems to me what should be relatively simple (moving a suitcase) became very complex because the basic training and controls were not put in place for “go live”. Once those controls started to slip the sheer volume of suitcases meant the opportunity to keep moving suitcases, and rectify the problem ones, was very difficult. 

Perhaps though if people recognised just how difficult DC administration can be, if things start to go wrong, and they approached setting up systems as if they were planning to move a bridge, not a suitcase, they may find life a little easier in the long term.

Marekha Warren