Companies, govt behind in Y2K readiness survey

Two Y2K surveys released this month show many New Zealand companies, local authorities and government agencies are falling behind their estimated completion dates - not least Central Otago District Council, which claims it won't be ready for Y2K until the middle of 2000.

Two Y2K surveys released this month show many New Zealand companies, local authorities and government agencies are falling behind their estimated completion dates.

Not least of them is Central Otago District Council, which claims it won't be ready for Y2K until the middle of 2000.

But project manager Jon Mitchell says for many smaller councils the biggest problem is the survey itself.

"They would have preferred to receive more information on how they could become compliant rather than have someone telling them they haven't. That's been a major issue."

He says smaller councils are spending time answering requests for information rather than being able to do the work itself.

"The amount of work to complete the type of questionnaire that has been put together is a Y2K issue in itself. It's tying up resources that in some cases could be better spent actually dealing with the problem."

Mitchell's Y2K team consists of two people - the systems administrator and the finance manager - looking at the council's inhouse systems while consultants are called in to look at the engineering side.

"We didn't design the survey, we just provide information to them for it. We actually don't put a great deal of weight in the survey," he says.

The latest Readiness Commission survey into Y2K trends in New Zealand clearly points to the problem of retreating deadlines.

"Earlier predictions of completion dates have proved to be overoptimistic for organisations in many sectors who have now moved their completion dates into the September and December quarters," says the survey's executive summary, written for IT minister Maurice Williamson's office.

Points of note in the minister's summary include:

q Completion dates are slipping and work needs to be done in the areas of communicating with customers and in business continuity planning;

q Small to medium-sized enterprises (SME) need more assistance in managing their business risks;

q This month Williamson will present a report on how government will manage the expected "intense international interest" in New Zealand's performance;

q Also in August, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will begin issuing "factual, non-judgemental information" on the readiness of 30 countries and the risk Y2K poses to travellers.

Of greatest concern is the amount of "slippage".

"If comparatively advanced organisations are re-estimating completion dates then less-advanced organisations expecting to complete their preparations in December may have difficulty in meeting their deadlines."

Apparently the commission will discuss this area "in more depth" with its committee members.

The report also says that many SMEs have no plans to monitor their suppliers' progress (46%) or to communicate their own progress to customers (50%). In the area of business continuity planning, 49% say they have no need of one, compared with only 9% of companies with more than 50 people.

The number of companies reporting Y2K-related incidents has risen to 5% overall and 23% for large businesses, although the impacts were less than spectacular - only 4% claimed they were severe.

Mitchell says most councils have reached the contingency planning stage, and won't be moving on beyond that point for some time. That could lead to a false impression being given in the next LGNZ survey, which is due out in September.

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