With January 1, 2000 fast approaching, companies are looking more and more closely at how this event may affect them. In any given month the typical magazine seems to have at least one article on the Year 2000. And the number of advertisements in trade magazines that identify specific Year 2000 assessment, remediation and validation tools is growing.
If you are a medium to large corporation, you are probably already aware of the problems associated with the Year 2000. If you are a smaller company, you may not be aware of these issues. Whatever your situation, we are providing this information to you in the event that you have not been aware of the criticality of the issues surrounding the Year 2000 problem or have not initiated a Year 2000 Compliance program within your company.
This document will attempt to provide you with basic information on the Year 2000 problem and how your company might be affected. General information is given and pointers to additional information available via the World Wide Web are provided. We hope you find this information useful in preparing for the upcoming turn of the century. The information provided is just a starting point and we encourage you to invest additional time and energy to learn as much about the Year 2000 issue as possible.
The Year 2000 Problem
The Year 2000 (Y2K) problem is simple to understand, yet extremely difficult and experience to fix. Due to memory constraints, early programmers represented years by the last two digits of the century. Thus the year 1970 is represented by the number “70″ in many legacy software applications. After the turn of the century, the year will jump back to “00″ according to many older applications. To older systems, the time will seem to have reverted back 100 years. So, when computing basic lengths of time, systems will return errors or negative numbers. For example, a person born in 1990 will be computed to have an age of �80 in 2010 (10-90 =80).
The problem seems easy to fix, simply modify the affected programs to change existing date representations into a 4-digit form. But many large corporations, not to mention the United States Government, run thousands of programs with millions of lines of code. Complication increases exponentially because many programs rely upon other programs that have erroneous lines of code. These, in turn, are relied upon by other programs, and so on. This makes troubleshooting extremely difficult and expensive.
The problem is not just limited to legacy mainframe applications. Many later applications and hardware are subject to failure because Year 2000 issues. This includes many of the desktop and engineering applications that you rely on for everyday business operations.
What is EAC Corporation doing?
EAC Corporation has established a Year 2000 Compliance Program to ensure our continued business operations into the Year 2000. This program is designed to detect and resolve the date information processing problems that would otherwise affect contractual commitments and the orderly conduct of business operations at the turn of the century. The program includes internal business, facility and manufacturing systems as well as products and deliverable and vendor/supplier products.
EAC Corporation has defined roles and assigned responsibilities within the management structure to meet the compliance program objectives. A senior executive has been assigned primary responsibility for the program and reports status directly to the Corporate Executive Council. As part of the Year 2000 team, corporate expertise in areas such as legal, communications, procurement and contracts are employed to ensure continued support is provided for accomplishing year 2000 readiness.
EAC Corporation’s ability to meet customer commitments is dependent upon Year 2000 compliant commercial products and the assurance that there will be no interruption to the supplier/vendor chain. This is a difficult challenge compounded by the large number of suppliers/vendors that have business relationships with EAC Corporation. This letter and checklist is part of the effort underway to fully determine the risk to our internal and external interfaces for all of our operating companies.
As part of the EAC Corporation Year 2000 program we have identified many interfaces between (from and/or to) external entries such as your company. This may include electronic file transfers or other electronic data interchange mechanisms. We are especially concerned about failures in these types of data interchanges since they may affect your contractual obligations to us as well as our contractual obligations to our customers. If you are one of our key suppliers/vendors, you will be receiving additional communications from us. We will be requesting information on your Year 200 Compliance program and whether specific products you provide are Year 2000 compliant.
What Should you be Doing?
Like EAC Corporation, you should be very interested in what impact of the turn of the century will have on your business and you should be taking a proactive role in ensuring that you have done everything you possibly can to prevent a disruption in your normal business process. If you already have a Year 2000 compliance program, it is critical that you maintain it as a high priority task for your company. It is easy to get distracted by the everyday issues of business as usual but you must keep in mind that January 1, 2000 will arrive as scheduled. Delaying Year 200 compliance activities in not an option. Your company and your business and manufacturing systems must be ready!
If you don’t have a Year 2000 compliance program, start one! Don’t wait until tomorrow, that’s just one less day you have to get ready. As of this writing, there are about 535 days until January 1, 2000. Some will say that is plenty of time. But keep in mind that this is calendar days. If we exclude weekends, that leaves 385 workdays. Less than that if you consider holidays and vacations. As you can see, time is not on our side and this is one program where we can’t expect to receive schedule relief.
How Can You Initiate a Year 2000 Compliance Program?
Starting a Year 2000 compliance program can be difficult. A good approach is to read as much about the Year 2000 issue as possible to familiarize yourself with the scope of the problem. You will be surprised at how many facets of your business are impacted.
A good starting point for information is the U.S. Air Force Public Year 2000 web site located at http://infosphere.safb.af.mil/~jwid/fad1/world/y2k.htm. Selecting the “Best Practices” link will provide you with a wealth of information on the Year 2000 issue and the five accepted industry standard programs phases (Awareness, Assessment, Renovation, Validation, and Implementation.
Another good reference is the United States General Accounting Office (GAO) document entitled “Year 2000 Computing Crisis: An Assessment Guide”, available at http://gao.gov/special.pubs/y2kguide.pdf. This document presents an approach that you may be able to use in planning, managing and evaluating your Year 2000 program. It also identifies key processes that you should consider in your compliance program.
The above are just two references that are available to help you in understanding the Year 2000 issue. Many others are available, both on the web and in hard copy form at your local bookstore. Many conferences are available to help you understand the problem further and may help you in your Year 2000 compliance activities.