Magazine article Risk Management

How Are We Doing?

Magazine article Risk Management

How Are We Doing?

Article excerpt

Over the past several months, awareness of the impending year 2000 problem has spread significantly within the business community. Potential customers and vendors examine each other's conversion efforts with a wary eye, wondering, "How will their programs affect me and my business?"

According to testimony given by year 2000 consultant Peter de Jager to the U.S. House of Representatives in May 1996, less than 35 percent of North American businesses have begun to address this problem, and many are finding this to be the most complex project they've ever attempted. A survey conducted in November 1996 found that of the chief information officers who thought their companies could be affected by software that cannot support dates beyond 1999, less than half (47 percent) had started looking for solutions.

"It's better than that now, but there are still a disturbing number of companies that don't realize their exposures," says Norman Praed, president of Progeni, a software and consulting company in Norcross, Georgia. "From the beginning of this year, there has been a dramatic change in the level of activity." Companies are preparing to address the financial effects of the year 2000 challenge in next year's budgets.

The fact that businesses all over the world are racing against the same deadline adds an unpredictable and nontechnical communication to the problem. According to James E. Powell, a director at Progeni, qualified people able to address this issue are in short supply. "The price for this expertise is going to get very high," he says.

Risk Analysis

The first step in preparing for a software conversion is assessing your potential vulnerabilities by auditing and analyzing computer system date codes and interfaces. This information is essential in identifying the specific effects software problems may have on your firm. It is likely that the initial analysis will uncover a large amount of needed corrections.

For companies taking on conversion projects, a number of year 2000-specific programming tools are available to help. Corrective tools are generally separated into three major categories:

Analysis tools: Priced anywhere from $2,000 to $125,000, analysis tools are software designed to examine programs and locate date fields. To date, these are the most popular tools used in year 2000 conversion efforts. The first generation identified fields needing correction; more sophisticated versions suggest specific repair techniques. …

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