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Today's Business, By Brian Hale, New York, Tuesday 5 October 1999


Most of the world's top computer experts plan to stockpile food, water and cash before the Y2K bug bites. But they are putting everyone else off-guard, lulling people into a false sense of security with their complacency and slackness.

Says who? The world's top computer experts, that's who.

With less than 90 days to go until the clocks tick over to zeros, their "ill-preparedness, complacency and misplaced trust in suppliers" could be about to plunge business and consumers around the world into serious problems, according to the organisers of a global Y2K experts poll.

Even though 81per cent of the experts admit their organisations still are not ready for the date rollover, 91per cent are still optimistic in their overall assessment of Y2K and, say the poll's organisers, the experts' complacency may be compounding broader complacency.

Only executives involved in Y2K preparations took part in the poll and the results left the organisers in an unusual predicament when the outcome was revealed at a New York press conference yesterday.

The experts' overall view is extremely optimistic even though their answers to subsidiary questions suggest they should be feeling the opposite because many of their organisations are not ready for Y2K, others are falling behind in readiness efforts, many have not made or tested contingency plans and most have not really checked on their suppliers' Y2K readiness.

The results of the poll, conducted by CIO magazine, the Y2K Centre of Dr Ed Yardeni, Deutsche Bank's chief economist, and the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) - a global information technology organisation with more than 20,000 members in 100 countries - almost left its organisers speechless.

Dr Yardeni, one of America's foremost Y2K experts, said he was puzzled that IT professionals were so optimistic about the impact of Y2K on their organisations.

"Many of them are not ready yet. They are clearly expecting a victorious outcome, which may be raising complacency levels so high that people will not prepare for any possible malfunctions and failures," said Dr Yardeni.

Organisers admitted that the poll of 989 organisations around the world (including 26 in Australia and New Zealand) might have been skewed towards optimism because it was skewed to the United States (61per cent of participants) as well as skewed to large organisations with more than 1000 employees (56.5per cent) and the finance sector (23.4per cent).

But despite this, and results that looked promising at first glance because 74per cent said they were between 76per cent and 99per cent ready for Y2K, said Dr Yardeni, ``the real shocker is that many organisations are falling behind schedule''.

``When the first poll was conducted in June, 52per cent expected to be done by now and 16per cent said they would need the fourth-quarter to become compliant.

``Now, 43per cent say they will not be finished until the last three months so they're cutting it very close. It suggests there is significant falling behind and a lot of organisations are playing it very close to the deadline ... yet there is more optimism than there was in June,'' said Dr Yardeni.

``We're also disturbed to see more than one in five are still waiting for mission-critical software that is Y2K compliant and remember, programs still have to be installed and tested as well as delivered.''

That aspect in itself prompts worry, according to ISACA's Mr Michael Cangemi (who also is executive vice-president and chief financial officer of the Etieene Aigner Group).

``The industry knows that 78er cent of the time, software is delivered late,'' said Mr Cangemi, ``so we're pointing out the experts' over-optimism without knowing why it exists.''

He's also really bothered by the poll's findings that one in three either are still formulating a contingency plan or do not have one, and a further 16per cent have not implemented a plan that is ready.

``It's amazing that so few companies have contingency plans at this stage even though all of us share a concern that there will be some surprise problems that pop up at the end for which you cannot prepare contingency plans,'' said Mr Cangemi.

His thoughts are echoed by CIO's editor-in-chief, Ms Abbie Lundberg, who is widely regarded as a leading expert on major technology and business issues and believes that even companies optimistic about their own preparedness should be contingency planning for problems with suppliers.

``Chrysler has 8000 outside suppliers and 2000 are mission-critical,'' said Ms Lundberg. ``General Motors closed 25 of its 29 assembly plants last year because there were strikes at two suppliers. That shows why people should be more involved in planning.

``Companies should be organising SWAT teams running scenarios and drills for contingencies because there's a large number of people who won't be completed by December 31st and our society is so interconnected it's inconceivable that there won't be interruptions to the flow of goods and services.''

Ironically, the polled experts' optimism extends to their vendors and suppliers. The experts believe that only 25per cent of their vendors are not ready for Y2K but they are taking it on trust - 69 per cent of large global companies simply sent questionnaires to suppliers and only 13per cent bothered to conduct on-site inspections.

Michael Cangemi says he is concerned that more companies are not verifying Y2K readiness. ``We (Etienne Aigner) are a vendor supplying approximately 70 major retailers and 1000 small retailers. I can tell you that the majority of our customers sent us questionnaires by mail. Only one major customer called to follow up on the information.''

Meanwhile, despite the optimism, the prospects for problems seem to be growing. A significant 30per cent of companies still have not completed their Y2K projects and are behind schedule, 12per cent now do not expect to finish until after the date change and 27per cent plan to finish their readiness in the next three months.

Ms Lundberg says she is ``alarmed at the number of companies that do not expect to complete their Y2K work before the end of the year. Of those that do expect to finish in time, entirely too many expect to do so at the eleventh hour. Given the business world's abysmal track record for technology project delivery, this does not bode well''.

Moreover, 40per cent of companies believe between one and 10per cent of their mission-critical systems might fail or malfunction as a result of Y2K and a small number think they will face failure of a large number of mission-critical systems.

The bottom line for Dr Yardeni, who has long-worried about a Y2K-induced recession, is that ``I can't moderate my forecast after the latest poll results, though I was hoping to do so but I'm hoping the next and final poll (in November/December) will be supported by a fast dash to the finish line''.

``We're all hoping the experts' optimism is justified but this is a race we all have to win together, not individually.''

The bottom line for the experts might be a little different. The poll results show that their office optimism is mixed with some home realism. Only a small number expect the power to go off and the telephone to be out of order but well over half admit they plan to stockpile extra food and cash at home.


Some really really weird type of sleeping sickness -- and when they wake up when the timebomb alarm clock rings with multiple-catastrophic emergency blare insistence on 1/1/2000, it will be too late. This is a terminal illness.

The world is now on HOSPICE.

-- Ashton & Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), October 06, 1999


"For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness."


(2Th 2:11-12)

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), October 06, 1999.

Never in human history

Have so many humans

Blindly trusted

That so many other humans

won't screw up

- - Dr Ed Yardeni

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

-- G (balzer@lanset.com), October 06, 1999.

I know some of the world's real top experts. None of them were polled. Some of them post here. Hey Ed Yourdon, Cory H., were you polled?

I think they polled CIOs. Some of the world's top non-expert politicians. Some of these guys could give B. J. Clinton lessons on spin.

-- ng (cantprovideemail@none.com), October 06, 1999.

:Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live." Goethe

"The people I distrust the most are those who want to improve our lives but have only one course of action." Frank Herbert

-- quoter (quoter@quoterrr.xcom), October 06, 1999.

Clicking thru WorldNetDaily's CountDown 2Y2K page, the next one is a doozy of struggling incompetence too! They're trying, but there are so many gaps of logic and follow-thru and big-picture thinking ...

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Are your Y2K contingency plans based on unrealistic assumptions? Many companies are finding the answer is yes

By Kathleen Melymuka

John Wylder thought year 2000 contingency planning was going to be a snap. "I had been in contingency planning for years," says the Y2K project director at SunTrust Bank Inc. in Atlanta. "I knew we had tested them every year." With a little tweaking to adjust the existing plans for Y2K, he recalls, "I was thinking this was done." But then a team from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP suggested the bank take a second look. "I was thinking, 'We can't do better,'" he recalls. "But then we did some 'what-ifs,' and I saw it made sense to look at this a different way."

The second look resulted in an entirely new approach to Y2K contingency planning at the bank, and that experience isn't unique. Many year 2000 project directors are discovering that contingency plans that sound great in theory fall apart in practice.

"People are challenging assumptions they made," says Jim Jones, managing director of the year 2000 group at the Information Management Forum in Atlanta. "The reality is that a lot of things people think about (doing) are not viable options."

There are many lessons to be learned from walk-throughs, tabletop war games or just an examination of assumptions. If you haven't taken a second look, you may be counting on contingencies that won't work.

One of the most pervasive problems people discover with Y2K contingency plans is also one of the hardest to solve. "The biggest thing we found in test after test is the problem of timely, accurate and well-coordinated communication," says Sara Jane DuPree, manager of business continuity and disaster recovery planning at Delta Air Lines Inc. in Atlanta.

People who develop the plans are thinking of the big picture, she says, not of the person who is supposed to receive critical information and pass it along. "The devil is in the details," DuPree says.

For example, a flight plan, which contains critical data about the weather, route, fuel and cargo, must be in the pilot's hands by a certain time, or the flight will be late. If the plan for a flight out of Kansas City normally comes from Atlanta via computer, the contingency plan may call for faxing the multipage document in the event of computer failures.

But if people haven't walked through a drill, those on the receiving end may not know that the information is being faxed -- or if they do, they may not know which fax machine it's being sent to, or they may miss a crucial page when they pick it up. "Multiply that by 625 flights a day, and you've got a potential problem," DuPree says.

"You've got to have that communication and sequencing and timing and accuracy all down real pat to make it work," she explains. "It's going to take a combination of training, refined manual processes, exercises and drills."

The Stockpiling Myth

Among the first bubbles to burst in many plans has been the notion of stockpiling to alleviate supply-chain worries. "Originally, we ran under the assumption that we might stockpile inventories," says Chas Snyder, vice president of applications delivery and Y2K project director at Levi Strauss & Co. in San Francisco. "That provides some blanket insulation from disruption of the supply chain -- at least upstream."

But the more he thought about it, the more impractical a stockpiling solution seemed. "To build up inventories effectively, you have to really be able to assign risk to various suppliers or countries, and that's extremely difficult to do," he explains. "So unless you build in excess inventories across the product line ... it doesn't make sense."

For a company the size of Levi Strauss, stockpiling a little of everything is prohibitively expensive, as well as culturally confusing, he says. "We pay people lots of money and have lots of software to do inventory management (to avoid overstocking), and we'd be turning around and asking them to walk away from that."

Ultimately, Snyder decided that dealing with the relatively few supply-chain problems he anticipates will probably be much less disruptive than major stockpiling.

The Y2K team at Cargill Inc., a Minneapolis company that supplies ingredients to companies such as PepsiCo Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc., has found other reasons why stockpiling won't work. "We can't do a whole lot of stockpiling on our side till our customers figure out demand at the stores," says Gary McGee, manager of the year 2000 project office.

That process is taking a lot longer than anticipated, and the longer a company waits, the less likely stockpiling will be an option, he says. That's because the transportation industry is tuned for current demand and will already be stretched thin as companies stock up for holiday season sales.

"There's not a lot of excess capacity," he says, "and any that there is is getting sucked up pretty quickly."

Yesterday's Plan

Another lesson is that what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow.

At Progressive Insurance Co. in Highland Heights, Ohio, the original Y2K contingency plan called for backup generator power in a certain building from late December to mid-January. In the event of a power outage, key technical people would remain in the building, but noncritical employees would move out, giving their space to about 350 critical people from areas like claims support. A similar plan had worked well during a storm in 1993.

But as he began to make preparations, information services executive Dennis Sutcliffe learned that a lot had changed since 1993. "We had assumed that space was almost free," he says. "It's not."

In 1993, many people at Progressive worked at IBM 3270 terminals; now they all have PCs with different configurations and desktop applications. "We're looking at upwards of $1,300 a seat to convert," he says. And that doesn't even include the cost of rerouting telephones.

When the cost of moving people became apparent, the number of contingency seats in the plan dropped from about 350 to 120.

Furthermore, what if the power stays on? "If there's no problem that first weekend, how long do you keep that setup?" he asks. "We've got the people who come to that building routinely. Do they sit there with two computers on their desks? Do you keep that contingency phone routing for two weeks even if it's disruptive to people trying to do their normal jobs?"

Revisiting the contingency plan has been "a real nosebleed," Sutcliffe says, and he's still working out details. But at least it's happening now instead of in January.

Y2K teams are learning that writing down a plan doesn't make it work. As businesspeople at The Pillsbury Co. in Minneapolis worked on contingency plans, it soon became apparent that they were only scratching the surface. "As we looked at moving the call center, people were assuming they would have dial-up capability from their computers," says Nancy Mitchell, senior business analyst. "Well, that doesn't just happen."

Make It So

People in business units often don't realize that many things have to fall into place to achieve the outcome you need, Mitchell explains. "You have to have security; you have to have the right kind of phone line. There are only so many ports. You have to order cabling," she says.

"The reality of actually doing the work is so much more complex than you think," she adds.

Mitchell says it's essential to plan for critical business processes instead of looking at Y2K issues by department. "People need to clearly define the critical business process, get down to basics and really talk to everybody who supports that process."

To facilitate that, the Pillsbury Y2K team now sits in on business continuity planning sessions. "As they bring the different functional pieces together, we (explain) what the dependencies are," she says. "They say they'll use satellite phones. Well, it's not that simple. They're very expensive, and you don't just go out and get one. They are impacted by weather, and it will be winter; if it's snowing, they don't work well.

"Just because you may have read about a solution doesn't mean it's a good solution," she says.

Keep It Fluid

Some organizations have built in second looks and more by designing evolutionary change into their contingency plans.

The Social Security Administration had its first contingency plans in place almost a year ago, but because the agencies with which it interacts have been far behind, it has had to continually update contingencies based on what others are planning.

For example, the plan for ensuring continuing payments to Social Security recipients has changed as the administration has worked out details with the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board. "The approach we took is to update and revise our plans quarterly," says Bob Vaccaro, Y2K project director.

The bottom line: Walk through your contingency plans to ground them in reality, and don't get so hung up on being "finished" that you set things in stone.

"When people say, 'Are you done?' I say, 'We've got the first round done,' " says Cargill's McGee. "But contingency plans will remain open right on into the year 2000."

---------------------------------------------------------------------- --
Are your contingency plans realistic?

Key Vendor Not Y2K-Compliant

Contingency plan: Switch to compliant vendor.

But what if:

* You can't find one on short notice?

* The vendor can't meet your product specifications?

* The vendor doesn't accept your conditions?

Alternate approach: Work with original vendor to ensure compliance.

Offshore Supplies Halted by Nationwide Transportation Disruptions

Contingency plan: Stockpile offshore supplies in advance.

But what if:

* You're unsure which countries and vendors are vulnerable?

* Alternative transportation isn't available?

* Warehousing costs are prohibitive?

* Stockpiled items have a short selling season?

Alternate approach: Work with offshore suppliers on their own contingency plans, move items as far along the pipeline as possible or arrange to take early deliveries.

Computer Network Fails

Contingency plan: Communicate by phone and fax

But what if:

* There are no up-to-date fax directories?

* There are no procedures in place for sending, collecting, collating and delivering faxes?

* The machine malfunctions and no fax technician is on duty?

Alternate approach: Walk employees through fax drill to determine logistics and tasks in advance.


Different Viewpoint

Sometimes a close second look at contingency planning results in a totally new approach. That's what happened at SunTrust Banks in Atlanta when PricewaterhouseCoopers suggested that the bank rethink its plan from the customer's angle. "Now that we've done that, it's a much improved plan," says year 2000 project director John Wylder.

For example, if the bank's check-cashing system were to fail, the original contingency plan detailed how to get it back up. The new plan details how to serve customers in the meantime. "Now we look at the impact in the teller line," Wylder explains. "They need manual procedures. You have to empower your employees."

Another example: If the bank's toll-free number goes down, customers will probably dial direct; but will the people who answer the calls know what the toll-free operators know? "Well, now they do," he says.

What the bank learned from its second look applies to any business, Wylder says. "Instead of looking at how you recover a computer system or relocate if the building burns down, you look at how you get your product or service out. It's a better way to look at your business."

This new approach wasn't difficult, he says. "Once we started the analysis, the answers were easy. You just have to empower your employees."


-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), October 06, 1999.

A&L - thanks for the post. Slipping schedules, as yet ininstalled new hard or software, no time for IV&V, no or inadequate CP's, ect have been the subject of more than just this poll. Anecdotals on csy2k and here point to the same direction.

At the same time big money isn't even factoring y2k into policy. Business as a whole apparently isn't looking at the import/export lists.

Yes, disconnect isn't too strong of word.

Two years ago I was frightened by the possibles, but I thought that surely business and govt would rally to the cause. And they sorta did, sorta. Now I find that again I'm frightened by the possibles - there appears to have been too little done, too late, & a distinct lack of consideration on the part of business and govt re domino effect. One would have assumed that self-interest would have provided the reason to be absolutely, diligently, on-top of all aspects Y2K - & it hasn't happened.

Amazingly there seems to be an almost cavalier disregard for the larger picture. & there is a cavalier disregard for national populations.

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), October 06, 1999.

Some grown-ups still believe in Peter Pan.

-- no talking please (breadlines@soupkitchen.gov), October 06, 1999.

But now Peter Pan has fallen asleep -- Tinker Bell sprinkled way too much fairy dust on him, after picking up some potent poppy dust from the Wicked Witch, and Captain Hook is circling ever closer, and Peter Pan is drugged deep senseless stupor. The croc.o.dial is sharking with the timebomb ticking, the Witching Hour is nigh, they'll all be on the Titanic when it explodes and sinks, and the Fairy Tale will be over.

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), October 06, 1999.

Thanks A&L. I'm going to make another attempt to wake up my DGI family/business owners with these. Cha..."why are you so worried?," they'll ask.



-- Michael Taylor (mtdesign3@aol.com), October 06, 1999.

So much news, more hard evidence coming in, the accounts from programmers in the trenches, and the feeling we're getting -- seems like a turning point. Exhaustion and acceptance that we're on a different level now that even some cheerful slightly prepping semi-GIs. Preps are very good, vital, every little bit counts. But what's about to come hurtling down the tracks is an entirely different beast than anything the world's witnessed as yet. We have this strong inclination now to just be silent, to just rest in the Space where God cradles one in His Vibration of Eternal Comfort. That's where we now find the most understanding, the most agreement, the same wavelength. We're going into hibernation, socially, early.

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), October 06, 1999.

Ashton and Leska:

I've read your threads and postings for some time now. It is so sad to see you come close to *my* position, rather than the facts having been developed to allow me to be as upbeat as you once were.

Now is the time to free ourselves from preconceptions. We DO NOT know what will happen. We will not know what causes most of it.

*IF* we are lucky enough to get by with a nasty depression, will we know why there is bread in the store one day but no flour? Chicken but no pork or beef, but only a few hams the next day and nothing else? No, it could be a glitch in a number of supply line choke points. It could be the bankruptsy of a supplier. It could be a sign that the grocery store is going under, for that matter.

But, if it gets to that point and stops, I will be thankful to the powers above. I still think that Infomagic lurks in the wings....... Just like folks in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, we will become used to lines, uncertainty, and always being ready to jump on an available item if we see it.

-- mushroom (mushroom_bs_too_long@yahoo.com), October 06, 1999.

Just up on AP Breaking News:

Some states pushing up against the deadline

"WASHINGTON (AP) - With less than three months to go, several states are pushing up against the Jan. 1 deadline in their scramble to ensure Y2K computer problems do not disrupt basic public services, officials said at a House hearing Wednesday ... But some state completion dates are so close to the turn of the century that the risk of disruption to their programs is substantially increased ...
``Millions of American lives will be harshly disrupted if these vital programs fail'' ... states are responsible for administering 10 of those programs, not one of which is expected to be fully compliant until year's end ...

Frog Legs heating up, but the nice warm-hot relaxing soak has destroyed the nerve endings, Froggie can't even tell anymore, heart rate slowing, breathing slowing, fog over mental processes, sliding down into coma ...

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), October 06, 1999.

Ashton and Leska, thank you so much for that informative article. I've been wondering about the specifics of contingency planning for some time. I've suspected that they weren't realistic in many instances, and now I see that I was right. One comment: the guy that said you need to "empower" your employees. Sounds nice and positive, but it also sounds like dumping on the workers. Sure, it's good that the tellers have the information to do it manually, but how is the teller supposed to handle a literal mob of angry customers?

-- Jean Shift (jean@aol.com), October 06, 1999.

Hang Holiday wreath on door, turn lock ;^)

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), October 06, 1999.

The key to success! ;^)

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), October 06, 1999.

Mitchell, "Amazingly there seems to be an almost cavalier disregard for the larger picture"

Very true, very odd. So many times in our lives we've been mocked and ridiculed and ostracized for views which were not tightly conformed mainstream -- all of which have proven correct, sorta spooky -- so we know that monkey-tantrum sindrone well. But Y2K is an entirely different beast. The brush-off, snicker, scoff, malign, ridicule, turf wars, cold shoulders, tempers, and PR infowar is the most disconnected surreal denial snit-fit we've ever seen.

And the denial is boldly sneered round with arrogant bravado and refusal to consider the facts and possibilities.

Very weird.

"Amazingly there seems to be an almost cavalier disregard for the larger picture"

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), October 06, 1999.

Thanks Ashton and Aleska for expressing my feelings so well, so beautifully. I have experienced so many of these y2k reactions from family and friends, and I understand entirely what you are saying. I have read the posts of many who attempted neighborhood and community work, admiring them, almost following them, until I realized that this was different. Only a very few will listen.

And I have withdrawn and focus on internal, spiritual activities, just walking in nature. Kali is the mother of destruction and I believe she is headed our way. She is known as the one who will eventually destroy all life, and then hold us all in the deep sleep before rebirth. Rebirth in the larger sense, of civilization, or even the universe. I believe we are headed for something huge, and I feel so overwhelmed that all I can do is try to accept, wait, watch, and accompany my children through to the other side. I only live to comfort them and help them the best I can right now, knowing I can not save us.

I thank you so much for your words, which are the only thing keeping me from being totally alone with this knowledge. We GI's are now doomed to the same experience as Cassandra, doomed to see the future but not be believed. Not that we have specific knowledge, but we see the storm gathering and we know all is about to change.

Wish I could have met you both, you are truly visionary and caring people.


-- Lora (artemis45@hotmail.com), October 06, 1999.

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