Y2K Contingency Planning 101 At San Francisco Symposium

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Missed this one. If it was posted before, sorry.


Firms Prepare a Plan B, Gird for Y2K's Worst
Benny Evangelista
Monday, June 28, 1999
)1999 San Francisco Chronicle


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

With just six months to go before D-Day, companies dealing with the Year 2000 computer problem are shifting their focus from fixing glitches to preparing for the worst.

It's not that corporate America believes that the worst will happen, but a fair amount of contingency planning is needed to keep businesses going no matter what kind of Y2K foul-ups appear.

In other words, make sure that if Plan A fails, there is a Plan B. Or for that matter, Plans C through Z.

``Everybody has to come up with a backup plan for what they do,'' said Y2K consultant William Ulrich, co-chairman of a three-day Year 2000 National Symposium that starts today at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

Contingency planning and ``business continuity strategy'' are major themes of the symposium, which is expected to draw more than 200 corporate Y2K project leaders and computer system managers from around the country.

These are the same people who have, to varying degrees, been trying to make sure software programs that recognize years by only the last two digits don't confuse 2000 with 1900.

Because literally billions of lines of computer code and embedded microchips could be affected, nobody knows for sure if all the work done so far to tackle Y2K won't leave some stones unturned.

Representatives for companies like Intel Corp., Visa International and Chronicle Publishing Co. will detail alternatives they are working on to weather disruptions in power, transportation, telecommunications or the supply chain.

Ulrich, president of Tactical Strategy Group Inc. of Soquel, is a consultant to corporations with manufacturing plants abroad, where experts believe that computers will be more prone to Y2K disruptions.

``Contingency planning is when there is no power for an hour, you don't send anybody home,'' Ulrich said. ``If there is no power for a day, you send people home. If it's more than three days, you might have to lay people off. If power's not coming up for a month, you might shut the operation down permanently.''

Ulrich said he has clients who are stockpiling supplies and installing emergency generators -- the same steps being taken by individual Y2K survivalists and community preparedness groups.

Delta Air Lines has about 85 percent of its Y2K testing done and expects to be ready by midsummer. However, it also depends on outside companies for jet fuel and other essential supplies.

So Delta also is lining up different sources of jet fuel in case one supplier shuts down, said Walter Taylor, vice president for Delta Air Lines' computer technology division.

``We want to make sure we're not dependent on one because there's only so much capacity to store fuel at an airport,'' said Taylor, who will speak at the symposium.

Delta also is training a team of employees to staff a Y2K crisis management center, which starting in mid-December will monitor potential trouble spots around the world 24 hours a day.

If a foreign country is hit by power outages that affect its airports, the crisis center may decide to suspend flights to that country.

Then again, maybe nothing will happen and the world will go on with business as usual. In that case, Taylor said, contingency planning is still helpful because it's like cleaning a messy closet.

``One of the lessons of Y2K is that you normally really don't get to know your business or understand the processes that drive your business,'' Taylor said. Contingency planning ``makes you scrutinize your systems more. We've found some systems that we could retire.''


``Look at my screen all gone to black.

``Why 2Y 2YK.

``Power gone and it won't come back.

``Why 2Y 2YK.''

Those are the opening lyrics of a new Y2K song performed by The Digitones and written by Don Lattin, the Chronicle's religion writer.

Lattin said he wanted to give people some lighthearted humor to counter the doom and gloom of the most-dire Y2K prognosticators.

``It would be a shame if Y2K ruined people's New Year's Eve parties,'' Lattin said. ``At least let's have fun until the lights go out at midnight.''

The irony is Lattin has employed the best that high tech has to offer to sell the song. The CD and a digitally downloadable Liquid Audio version of ``Why 2YK'' are both available on his Web site,


(Better yet, (listen to it here (MPEG Audio, 5 MBytes) or here (Real Audio).

[See source document for links].


If that song isn't enough, check out more Y2K humor from the state of Connecticut's Department of Information Technology, at


for lyrics to ``The Y2K Blues'' and ``The Digital Hillbillies.'' Or try


which collects the dumbest things said about Y2K, some of them by Vice President Al Gore.

This occasional Monday feature spotlights efforts to address the looming Year 2000 problem. Send Y2K items to bennye@sfgate.com.

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), July 04, 1999


``It would be a shame if Y2K ruined people's New Year's Eve parties,'' Lattin said. ``At least let's have fun until the lights go out at midnight.'' ************************** It's unfortunate that so many out there are looking at the rollover as a school kid looks at a "snow day". If I were convinced the lights may go out at midnight (which I am), a party is not a place I would prefer to be.


-- Mike (midwestmike_@hotmail.com), July 04, 1999.

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