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spike bulletSeptember, 1998 - Update: The Year 2000 Challenge

Update to the Year 2000 challenge addressing small business and home computer owners
Some DOs and DON'Ts
Risks for small businesses and home computer users
Rewards of starting early
Resources - Links to Internet resources on the Y2k issue

Links to our previous Year 2000 newsletter (July 1997)

Humor - Fatal Flaw: a little story to set the tone
The 3 Rs of Year 2000 - Risk, Reward and Resources
Managing a Year 2000 Project - Tips for Success, Formulas for Failure
Case Studies - Case Studies of Year 2000 efforts
Questions and Answers - Frequently asked questions
Try it for yourself - A few minutes and you'll know about one desktop computer - yours
Resources - Links to Internet resources on the Y2k issue

spike bulletUpdate to the Year 2000 Challenge  mov_aclock.gif (26890 bytes)

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.

Some DOs and DON'Ts — What the "average" person should be concerned about

  1. DON'T panic. We expect there will be some disruptions of service throughout our country in the early days of January, 2000. They may be the impact of a hurricane, a flood, a union strike or a major storm in localized business activities or localized industries. These are common events in our lives and we know how to deal with them. Yes, they may be very uncomfortable for some people, but not everyone will be affected. Nor, will all computer systems fail at once. There have been years of preparation and work to prevent failures. Still, there are some companies and some computers that will likely fail, due to lack of planning or oversight. These will be fixed as quickly as humanly possible by those responsible.
  2. DO be a calm influence on your friends, family and co-workers. Some people will be frightened by their own internal fears. Please — do yourself and humanity a bit favor by not adding to such hysteria. If you have leadership talent or responsibilities, please be calm and help others deal with things in a practical and safe way.
  3. DO some practical preparation. Make sure you have extra candles or flashlight batteries in your home or place of business. Make sure you have groceries and some extra cash on hand, rather than waiting until New Year's Eve to go to the store or the bank.
  4. DON'T draw all of your money out of the bank or sell all your stocks out of fear. Creating a run on the banks or the stock market will not help you nor will it help our country in the long run. The entire banking industry is going overboard in 1998 to make sure that they have checked and re-checked their computers to prevent any possible Year 2000 problems. The stock markets have performed extensive tests of their computer systems to make sure there will be no problems. The US Treasury is preparing to have extra money printed and distributed to banks well in advance of the new year, so keep that in mind.
  5. DO gather important documents. Make sure you have paper copies of your most important financial papers (insurance policies, bank statements, credit card statements, loans, mortgages, health records, tax returns, etc.).
  6. DO check your computer for possible Year 2000 date problems. There has been a great deal of attention to the Year 2000 problem for large corporate computers, and little attention to small business or home computers as yet. A few products are now reaching retail stores that are designed to address this area. See the resources page for links to some good information and Internet resources.

Some DOs and DON'Ts — For small business owners

  1. DON'T wait until next year. As greater awareness grows, companies are being asked to answer more and more questions about their Year 2000 compliance.
  2. DO be proactive! Once you have determined that your company is Year 2000 compliant, let your customers know. They will appreciate knowing that.
  3. DO ask your vendors and suppliers about their Year 2000 status. Since this problem affects so many people, you may be completely compliant yourself and still have problems if your suppliers shut down.
  4. DO get good information. Talk to your industry trade groups or chamber of commerce if you need additional resources, or start a discussion yourself on what others are doing.

spike bullet What are the Risks for small business owners and home computer owners?

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.

Rewards of Being Proactive

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.

World Wide Web graphic  Resources for small business owners and home computer owners (updated October, 1999)

spike bullet Status of our company's Year 2000 compliance - (Year2000.htm)

NewOur 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

Direct order.

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