Managers closer to year 2000 resolution - but not close enough

Seven of the 30 respondents to this week's Computerworld 1000 Survey believe they have finished their year 2000 projects, despite the fact that three of them haven't bothered to contact suppliers, partners or customers. Twenty-two respondents claimed they had 'assessed' business partners and suppliers for Y2K compliance and a further 11 had also checked with customers, although many companies felt there was no need to do this.

Seven of the 30 respondents to this week's Computerworld 1000 Survey believe they have finished their year 2000 projects, despite the fact that three of them haven't bothered to contact suppliers, partners or customers.

Twenty-two respondents claimed they had "assessed" business partners and suppliers for Y2K compliance and a further 11 had also checked with customers, although many companies felt there was no need to do this.

One manager, running around 20 desktop PCs and two servers, felt he had completed his Y2K project despite not knowing what an embedded chip was. He didn't want to identify either himself or his company, a medium-sized manufacturing and exporting firm.

It also seems that despite the potential for disaster, most companies aren't interested in putting together a disaster recovery plan. Seventeen respondents felt it was unnecessary, with one respondent claiming he didn't need one as "no problems are expected". One respondent's plan consists of printing out all the company's reports and hoping that the power stays on.

Max Shierlaw, an accountant for Wool-yarns, a Wellington-based exporter of knitting wool, has received a number of letters from business partners asking about his compliance. "Apparently their banks are making [Y2K compliance] a requirement of their overdraft facilities." Shierlaw decided to

check on his own and was surprised to learn that it wasn't yet compliant.

"I asked them about what we call 'direct link', which we use to pay all our bills and wages electronically, and they told me they hoped to be sorted out by next quarter."

Ross Stewart, a partner with Y2K specialist Wilson White, says these kinds of responses are not uncommon. "People are becoming more aware. They've moved from absolute disbelief to denial to awareness that they have a problem internally." Stewart believes companies have only recently discovered the problems associated with embedded systems and the significance of the supply chain.

"First they discover they will be in trouble if a supplier falls over and then they discover the significance of a customer falling over."

The majority of our respondents are spending over $100,000 on Y2K. Five respondents quoted figures around that mark, with four more quoting over $200,000. The most expensive bill was $1.5 million.

At the bottom end, one respondent claimed to have spent nothing, but also claimed to have finished assessing for compliance, and another had spent $15 on a piece of software that would "check the BIOS" of all PCs in the company.

Our final question was on the impact of Y2K overall, with a score of one being the lowest and ten being the highest.

The most popular individual score was four, closely followed by three and five. The average score was just under 4.

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