The Joe Anne Effect : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Yesterday, when I was remediating like crazy, I saw this in a PL/I program:


which ties in with the company's October-September fiscal year, in this case aging some date by 3 months and making mischief starting in October 1999 if we don't fix the problem. Never have I seen the hand of God more plainly, telling me that the Year-2000 problem really is a Year-1999 problem, and that things will start going wonky in less than 2 months.

Anybody else seen something like this?

-- Steve Francis (, November 05, 1998


Anyone who has written financial code has done something like your example. Now, would you recognize the same statement in assembler? At least your data names make some sense. How about IF WDM > 9 THEN FSCL = YNEXT + 1; etc...

-- R. D..Herring (, November 05, 1998.

Steve, Jo Anne Slaven visits this website occasionally. Here is her own definition:

The "Jo Anne Effect" (named after me by Cory Hamasaki) refers specifically to accounting software, and fiscal years that span two calendar years (1999 and 2000). Many companies have a fiscal year-end that is not the calendar year- end. March 31, April 30, June 30, and other dates are popular for year-ends. When a company has a year-end of this type, there may be difficulties with the accounting software when the company attempts to "close" fiscal 1999 and "open" fiscal 2000.

Picture a company using a 1993 version of some accounting software, running it on a network of 486's. This company thinks they have until December 1999 to update their hardware and software, but they have not remembered that their fiscal year-end is, say, February 28 1999.

The accounting year-end "roll-over" (closing), in this example, would instruct the computer to move all fiscal 1999 transactions to an "old" file, and open up a "new" file with transactions dated between March 1, 1999 and February 28, 2000. But if the software only recognizes a 2-digit year, what will it do?

Is March 99 before Jan 00, or after? Will the software allow the new fiscal year to open, or will it give some kind of error message? If the fiscal year does roll over, will the transactions sort properly or will some of them be "lost"?

I expect that the "Jo Anne Effect" will be a big slap in the face for a lot of companies, early next year. They will see that they can't wait until December 31 1999 to fix their problems - everything really should be done before the fiscal year end.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me.

Answered by Jo Anne Slaven ( on September 12, 1998.

-- Gayla Dunbar (, November 05, 1998.

So how did it get named after her?

Surely she didn't invent the problem, but did she first identify it, or first publicize it, or did it evolve naturally as she tried to get time/money/effort/permission to fix it from a reluctant bureacracy?

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, November 05, 1998.

Robert A. Cook wrote:

"So how did it get named after her?

Surely she didn't invent the problem, but did she first identify it, or first publicize it, or did it evolve naturally as she tried to get time/money/effort/permission to fix it from a reluctant bureacracy?"

I usually only lurk in this forum, but I really have to comment on this posting.

People who spout crap insinuating that "everyone concerned about the Y2k issue is out to make a buck" are really starting to piss me off. (And anyone who knows me at all will realize that this is very strong language, for me.)

Here's the history, Robert:

I started hanging out on the csy2-k newsgroup in February 1998. I noticed that there was a great deal of confusion/speculation about the significance of the "1999 problem".

I'm an accountant, and I really don't know a great deal about computers except for what I need to know to deal with accounting issues, and it seemed to me that people were getting off track worrying about "look-ahead programs" and the "9/9/99" issue. So I threw in my two cents. I said that I thought fiscal year-end processing would likely be a problem. My innocently-made posting woke a lot of people up.

But then, Cory Hamasaki named the fiscal year-end problem the "Jo Anne Effect". It caught on. I had nothing to do with the naming of the problem, and it really is starting to freak me out to see my name being discussed all over the place.

You want to know what I do for a living? I'm a bookkeeper, basically. I'm self-employed, and I do books for a (small) number of businesses. I do nothing at all that relates to Y2k, except for maybe the fact that I've been trying to convince the people at the companies I work for of the fact that they should be doing something to prepare for the problem. I have made exactly $0 from Y2k issues, and I have made exactly $0 from the "Jo Anne Effect". And I expect that things will stay that way.

Enough ranting for tonight.

Jo Anne

-- Jo Anne Slaven (, November 05, 1998.

I must respectfully disagree - you've done a very great deal to solve the overall problem, but you just haven't been paid for it in dollars.

I wish my respect, admiration, and thanks would "buy you a cup of coffee" as mentioned before, but you'll have to accept instead an emailed Christmas card.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, November 05, 1998.

Ms. Jo Anne; Please add to your collection a really big THANK YOU from the idiot down in Louisiana who misspelled your name awhile back.

Your "Forecast Effect", specifically your explanation of it to us here, gave this dummy the realization(in about 2 seconds flat) that most of the stores that I would be buying my supplies from might well have some serious problems of their own long before 1/1/00 arrives, and that in turn galvanized this ole boy to do some serious shopping in a damn short time span. For this and for your kindness in answering our questions that day/night you have indeed earned yourself a warm spot in some folks heart. You did good Little Lady, you did real good. If nothing else you get a warm fuzzy "attagirl" all the way from Louisiana.

Thank you Ma'am


-- sweetolebob(La) (, November 06, 1998.

Jo Anne,

My wife is also an accountant and I had a difficult time getting her to even think about y2k until I found something that she could directly understand. She grasp the fiscal year problem quickly and from then on things have begun to sink in. Too bad the majority of the world, especially corps and governments, haven't had the same kind of revelation.

My best to you and thank you very much for your insight. I did, however, miss the way you usually sign off on csy2k...

Mike who's wife is helping to prepare for a new world partly because of Jo Anne Slaven ================================================================

-- Michael Taylor (, November 06, 1998.

Having had troubles with EOY rollover and reports before, I know that data is usually recoverable, but if the EOY rollover won't work, you can't move forward with inputting sales and so on. I predict a big surge in sales of Y2K compliant accounting packages next year, coinciding with FY rollover dates.

-- Paul Davis (, November 06, 1998.

What a bunch of brown nosing, patronizing imps. I see why MS Slaven only lurks here. You people are pathetic. You act like this woman is some kind of Goddess. All she did was ask a question and you imps turn it into a three ring circus.

-- Believer (, November 06, 1998.

Believer, you are a sadist. Why don't see a shrink who can convert you to a masochist? It's dummers like you who punish people for doing a good job and for telling the truth.

-- dummer (observer@timebomb.2000), November 06, 1998.


(What do you "believe" in, anyway?)

I have read nothing here that indicates that any of us think Ms. Slaven a goddess. On the other hand, her postings would seem to demonstrate that she is an articulate, intelligent, competent, mature and modest woman who had an insight that no else had up to the point in time at which she was touched-in-passing by the Fickle Finger of Fate.

It is my not at all humble opinion that you also have been "touched", but not by the aforementioned Finger and certainly not "in passing".

You have previously claimed to be a Mormon, but I am compelled by honesty to tell you that every aspect of your self that I have seen displayed here is markedly different from that of any Mormon I have known.

-- Hardliner (, November 06, 1998.

* You have previously claimed to be a Mormon, but I am compelled by honesty to tell you that every aspect of your self that I have seen displayed here is markedly different from that of any Mormon I have known. *

I'm not a Mormon but I know a lot of them and I agree with you.

-- dummer (observer@timebomb.2000), November 06, 1998.

The Jo Ann Effect is a good thing. It gives a staggered effect to many Y2K related problems BEFORE hardware problems strike - thus giving an initial smaller strike that can be fixed and makes the company aware it has a problem - whereas a single stroke of "OH MY GAWD THE WHOLE SYSTEM HAS QUIT COLD" might destroy many smaller companies. A delayed EOY fiscal year report is not a total disaster for most - the data is not destroyed on the rollover and is usually pretty easy to recover (and no BS from you guys please - I had to do this exact job just a couple years ago due to corrupted database files that caused the EOY report and all rollover data to be totally screwed - so I know exactly what I am talking about thank you very much!). So the Jo Ann effect will mitigate the impact on small to medium companies to a certain extent. But you can expect a run on copies of guarenteed Y2K correct accounting packages next year around each set of popular FY rollover dates. Now I am not talking about BIG outfits that use custom programs here - just smaller ones that mostly use things like Champion or Cougar Mountain. These guys will be howling because they are the ones who are ignoring the whole mess.

Anyhow, thats my take as of today - what do you think?

-- Paul Davis (, November 06, 1998.

Maybe the name of this effect should be changed to the Fiscal Year Rollover Effect. It would spare Joanne some grief and make it easier to explain.

-- Buddy Y. (DC) (, November 06, 1998.

I do technical support for a company that manufactures accounting software for CPA's (not Intuit). I can tell you that not a day goes by that we don't field many y2k questions from customers on exactly this issue, namely, that all of our programs except one will be unable to handle any fiscal year clients starting Jan 1, 1999. For this reason all of our dos-based programs have been discontinued, and there is a scramble on to get windows-based, y2k compliant products on the market. Like I said, we had to discontinue sales on several products, with no y2k compliant replacement available as of yet. It is a big issue among CPAs, although some small business owners may be unaware that their program is going to have problems on fiscal years starting next Jan.

-- Tom Knepper (, November 06, 1998.

Thanks Tom, glad to hear that the smaller businesses are not ignoring Y2K as much as has been supposed. Still, what do you think of my take on the Jo Ann Effect? More helpful than harmful or vice versa?

-- Paul Davis (, November 06, 1998.

Hardliner: I think you mistakenly added the letter "m" twice in your last sentence.

-- PNG (, November 06, 1998.

I have a few questions regarding the "Forecast Effect" as iterated by Jo Anne Slaven.

I can easily see the effect, and I can see where it could cause a great wailing and gnashing of teeth to the business involved. I can even see how an OTS system would patch some business systems up and have them running in 30 seconds or less.

My questions concern a slightly different slant angle on this.

1. How many OTS accounting packages are there out there that would fix up any given business at some higher volume of business activity than say Mom & Pop with 10 offices? I mean, at what level of business do you suppose that a given company would have it's very own custom made accounting system? IE: General Motors, Tandy, WalMart. When GM started there were no OTS systems. Tandy & WalMart both had a very explosive growth period where literally anything could happen. I guess my question really is: Is an OTS accounting system (assuming compliancy) a "one size fits all" type of operation and is it just "Plug & Pray" type?

2. As I understand the comments regarding programming, and programmers in general, most of y'all kind of add a few bells & whistles to most of the programs that you write. Do you do that to an OTS system too? I mean, do you tweak it up to "happy face" the manager who bought it? If you do this, how many of the brand new Whizbang OTS systems are really going to remain compliant, assuming of course that such was the case to begin with? I seem to see several references to "non-compliant" (?) code being written even now.

3. How many of the newly merged companies are really merged in their accounting systems? If the figures passed to corporate, or even to group, level are in useable format do they really install the corporate accounting system to replace the existing one from the acquired company? Even allowing for the "watchdogs" and oversight by the SEC et al I know that the bottom line is the bottom line, and so long as the figures jibe would they really swap out the accounting system of the recently acquired business? I am vaguely aware of the accounting standards and practices, and if the acquired company was a public one it obviously conformed to them, but I am also aware of the bottom line standard. Grab the loot and scoot.

4. Once a business reaches a higher level of business volume, say $500 million per annum, don't y'all think maybe some new guy wants to add a few "statements" to the business plan etc. and they install a brand new custom designed system that says "this is who we are" in addition to all the usual accounting functions? Or maybe, we are a new corporation now and this old system is not good enough for us any longer, I want ??????.

5. Even if the system in use is the one they have used since '02 has it been diddled enough by seventy - eleven different whiz kids over the years to really cause a severe hiccup at fiscal year rollover?

6. Does a corporation always install a single accounting system at all of the locations of all of their different divisions? If so, how do they update (upgrade) the system at all locations at the same time, and without screwing the pooch at the same time?

7. I know that this "effect" concerns an accounting operation and won't affect the actual sales/operations of the business immediately (obviously the bean counters go AS and Big Guy gets involved very shortly thereafter) but how much effort will it take to replace the accounting system, restore the correct data, and generate the 300 reports to 50 different offices to include the Auditor firm? Will "Gee Whiz" version 4.09 really do it to it?

I am just curious about these things.

As you can tell, I am not a computer whiz, and I sure as h*ll ain't an accountant. I have agitated a PC for some time now, and I have written 3 - 4 spreadsheet type things to calculate effluent flows in open channels, but the only computer things that I am reasonably sure of are the ON/OFF button, and the SHIFT & ENTER keys and I'm not really too sure of the last two...

I really want to know these things so these are indeed serious questions.

Thanks for any answers that you post (serious ones only).

No. I am not really anal. I am just curious.


-- sweetolebob(La) (, November 06, 1998.


No, you were reading my mind, not my words. If I'd taken out the two "M"s, Id have had to add the word, "not", twice.

-- Hardliner (, November 06, 1998.


No, you were reading my mind, not my words. If I'd taken out the two "M"s, I would have had to add the word "not" twice.

-- Hardliner (, November 06, 1998.

On November 06, 1998, Buddy Y. (DC) ( wrote: "Maybe the name of this effect should be changed to the Fiscal Year Rollover Effect. It would spare Joanne some grief and make it easier to explain."

Maybe we could call it Fiscal Annual Rollover Time, or FART for short!

-- gscarlson (, November 12, 1998.

The Jo Anne effect should not be considered to be limited to financial systems. It can occur in any system, but financial ones are what most people are likely to see them in first.

Remember the Jo Anne effect (or whatever other name you wish to give it) it based on a very simple premise: Any Y2K failures will occur the first time a system tries to process a date on or after 1/1/2000. For systems that deal with dates in the future (such as financial forcasting and scheduling), those failures will occur before 1/1/2000. Some systems are already experiencing this effect. Programs that calculated mortgage payment schedules would have started to run into this problem in 1970 as loans beginning on or after 1/1/1971 were set up.

The easy examples are generally financial systems, but don't let that fool you: Any system that manipulates dates in the future has the potential to exhibit the Jo Anne effect.

-- Paul Neuhardt (, November 12, 1998.

It looks like the name can't even be "FART" because even a fart has SOME impact!

Poor JAE...R.I.P!

-- Where is (all.the.c@mmo.tion?), September 10, 1999.

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