September, 1998 - Update: The Year 2000 Challenge
Links to our previous Year 2000 newsletter (July 1997)
In a little more than a year since we wrote our last article on this topic, the subject of "Year 2000" has become a news topic for the general public. Almost every day now, there are articles declaring the coming end of the world due to the "Y2k problem."
In this article, we'd like to address the subject in a way that provides some realistic planning that we believe is necessary as well as try to dispel the hysteria that many people may be feeling due to the number of alarming news reports.
We assume that those reading this newsletter topic have at least some idea what the "Year 2000 Challenge" means. For background information and other resources, see Resources page).
Risk - Small Businesses:
All small businesses should check their computers for possible Year 2000 problems. This includes especially: checking the BIOS clock (the main computer clock); customer, inventory or product databases; financial programs, accounting programs; other software (i.e., MS Word, Excel, Lotus 123, etc) and all spreadsheets for possible date calculation errors.
Remember, that there are still computers being built today (September 1, 1998) that DO NOT yet have Year 2000 compliant motherboards, so be sure to check yours. There are some new methods for re-setting the dates if your computer is not already compliant. (See the resources page for help in this area).
Many people forget that the Year 2000 issue affects many different non-computer devices: time clocks, digital clocks, security alarms and security systems, elevators, light controls, telephone systems, answering machines, fax machines, copiers, VCRs, pagers. You should check these as well as your computers.
If you are a manufacturing company, be sure to check all your equipment for possible embedded chips that have date controls. If you are not sure, ask the manufacture or supplier for confirmation that their products are Year 2000 compliant. Many companies are offering upgrades or updates, so ask if those are available.
Risks - Home computer owners:
Home computer users should check their computers as soon as possible. If you have old software or an old computer system, you might consider upgrading or buying a new computer. Prices have dropped considerably over the last few years and you may find some real bargains.
If that is not an option, do check anyway so that you know what your risks might be. For example, on very old systems, you may have to change the date every time you start up the computer after the Year 2000 rollover (this was a normal process on the first desktop computers).
If your software is not Year 2000 compliant and your budget does not allow for updates, you will want to be sure to check your date calculations extra closely after the Year 2000. Many programs will not fail, even with old dates and old computers. You won't know until you check them.
If you have a new computer, take the time to check whether it has any problems. There are many free programs available that will do that for you or you can purchase programs that will be available shortly in retail computer stores. As yet, there is a limited selection, but many companies are working on new products for home computer users.
Microsoft has recently released some new wizards for Excel 97 that check and fix dates in spreadsheets - these are especially useful for older spreadsheet files. The Cinderella Project website has very good information that is easily understood by non-computer folks.
The rewards of knowing your Year 2000 exposure early are obvious. With sufficient time, you can plan for changes, upgrade your computer and other systems, correct your data files and prepare to meet the Century with some confidence.
If you wait until the last minute, hardware and software upgrades may be stuck in back-order and vendor support will be more expensive (if available at all). The cost will climb as demand outstrips available resources (computer programmers, project managers, vendors, consultants). Shortages of technical consultants have been occurring for the last year.
As mentioned above, some new resources are becoming available for small businesses and home computer owners. This should continue into mid-1999, when we expect to see rising prices as we get closer to the date change.
Resources for small business owners and home computer owners (updated October, 1999)
Our book is available - More about The Other Side of Midnight, 2000: An Executive Guide to the Year 2000 Problem - Introduction, Cover Graphic, Table of Contents, About the Authors, The 3 Rs of Year 2000, Our 20 Tips for Year 2000 Project Success
Page updated: June 06, 2009
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