Many small firms adopt Wait and See Approach : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Many small firms adopt wait-and-see approach to correcting Y2K glitches

Kent Hoover

Up to 500,000 small businesses have decided to wait until Jan. 1 to see if they have any Year 2000 computer problems, figuring they can address any glitches after they occur, says the White House's Y2K czar.

This "fixing on failure" strategy enables these businesses to avoid the cost of Y2K identification and testing programs.

But it's risky, says John Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion.

Because so many small businesses won't be prepared for the new millennium, the demand for Y2K fixes likely will exceed the supply in January. Small businesses with computers or other devices that malfunction when they read the last two digits of 2000 as 1900 may have to wait weeks or even months to get the services or products needed to fix the problems, Koskinen says.

Even though there are only a few weeks left in 1999, there is still time for small businesses to squash the Y2K bug before it bites.

"But clearly we're getting close to the edge," Koskinen says.

The good news is American businesses and governments as a whole are "well-prepared," says Commerce Secretary William M. Daley. "And the economy should be able to shrug off the relatively minor disruptions that inevitably will happen."

A new Commerce Department report on the economic impact of Y2K is available at Small business owners who need help on Y2K issues can call 800-Y2K-7557 or visit

Elsewhere on the Y2K front, the Society for Human Resource Management finds it "alarming" that 44 percent of the businesses it surveyed have no contingency plans for Y2K problems around the New Year's holiday.

Only 39 percent of the human resource professionals surveyed have identified emergency staff in case the millennium bug strikes, and 35 percent have addressed payroll issues, such as making alternative arrangements for paychecks in case their employers' bank accounts are not accessible.

The complete survey can be found at

Kent Hoover, Washington bureau chief for Houston Business Journal, can be reached by e-mail at kmhoover@

-- Uncle Albert Walrus (, November 30, 1999

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