Business Self-Reporting; Actually Self-Delusion? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

An interesting conversation at work today with our division's lead software guru, who is an intersting Y2K issue in his own right. We're part of a Fortune 50 company, one of the aerospace giants, which is publically putting out good news on Y2K. It's proudly promoting its readiness to employees by having pep talks about its contingency plans, all based on somebody else's failure and how we'll get through Y2K "OK!".

Meanwhile down in the technical trenches, it seems that the corporate stance on Y2K readiness has a strong disconnect from reality. The big corporate Y2K assessment was two years ago, before the embedded systems issue became widely known.

Just looking around one test program I can see probable problems with embedded PC's still running Win 95 and even Win 3.1. The possibility for PLC-driven systems causing problems exists in about four dozen systems and the building systems are another can of worms. I'm not very confident that we will be operating thirty days after rollover.

Discussing this with our Mr Software, I found out that since the corporation declared our division Y2K ready, he has found a half-dozen serious problems which in his words, "would be plant closers".

One was with the employee timekeeping system which would have stopped payroll processing. Another was the production control and tracking system. Inventory management was a third problem. Now being a really good software guy, he fixed the problems (a couple months for the worst, not just two or three hours for all you pollies) and then reported the situation up-chain to corporate.

This is where the delusions begin. Corporate basically told him that "they didn't or rather couldn't hear his reports of any additional Y2K problems. No changes were allowed to reverse the corporate Y2K status."

The initial "No problemo!" findings are gospel and rocking the boat with additional reports is verbotten. But they did tell him to please fix anything he found that needs fixing. Just don't tell them.

Needless to say, he is not very confident about the company's Y2K chances. "I have absolutely no confidence...". Which gets to his personal Y2K readiness preparation.

It's a strange situation when you realize that the person at your workplace who is in charge of Y2K software repairs is someone who Paul Milne would be envious of.

I think it's time to go purchase some additional rice and beans BY THE TON.


-- Wildweasel (, December 10, 1999


One has to wonder how all of this will play out if the corporation gets sued because of a Y2K problem. If your software guru reported "up the chain" via email or memo, there's a good chance that it's in the archives somewhere -- and the lawyers WILL find it.

Even without that kind of "smoking gun" evidence, competent lawyers will find out about the existence of the software guru -- even if he has gone to work somewhere else -- and they'll get him on the witness stand, under oath. Unless everyone is very, very good at lying, the corporate executives are going to going to be in a pretty tough situation.

-- Ed Yourdon (, December 10, 1999.

for real,

I agree with you.

-- Ed Yourdon (, December 10, 1999.

Another factor, which we've discussed in various other threads: to whatever extent an organization is consciously or unconsciously following a FOF strategy, their success is going to depend on the percentage of software folks who show up for work on Jan 3rd, and who are willing to continue working long hours of overtime for whatever period of time the problems persist.

I'm not trying to make value judgments here about what's loyal or disloyal, what's ethical or unethical, etc. I'm merely suggesting that the percentage will be less than 100%, and that the situation will depend on such things as (a) the perceived Y2K risks that the software person feels that his/her family is being exposed to, while he/she is being asked to work long hours in the computer room, and (b) whether or not the software person feels that he/she has been treated fairly during the period BEFORE 1/1/2000.


-- Ed Yourdon (, December 11, 1999.

Hey Wild, I posted a message yesterday that concurs with your situation, namely that ALL businesses and agencies are self-reporting, and that 'readiness' is simply a bandaid, to protect the self-interests of the company etc. That's why Y2K is a 9.9. I had a feeling recently that the dragon would soon be rearing its ugly head, and its not going to be pretty, like thinking you're in heaven only to discover its really hell. A very sudden, terrible shift in realities, from 'what me worry' to 'holy **ck!!" I think people are going to be surprised at the extreme harshness of Y2K...

-- timemachine (con@tin.uum), December 10, 1999.

This doesn't sound good. I do hope you're not extrapolating from your own little slice of the picture, since such extrapolation is ridiculed when done by those whose own areas are in good shape. Sounds like you have poor management, except insofar as they continue to support fixes off the record. I hope your plant doesn't close, and you keep your job.

-- Flint (, December 10, 1999.


Yes, I find it very enlightening when people "in the trenches" are prepping, while corporate brass says "no problem!"

Two local examples for me: My brother works for Pac Bell, and he's a semi GI (Multiple propane cylinders, survival gear, months of food, etc). Our local IS manager where I work is only a semi-polly. He is personally stocking food and water, and withdrawing cash (he won't say for how long).

Others on this forum have said, "do what they do, not what they say." Good advise..

-- No Polly (, December 10, 1999.

Y2K is like a typical large software project -- they can spend as much time at "almost done" than it took to reach "almost done" from the beginning!

But no need to worry, if all problems are fixed in three days, the "three-day snowstorm" forecast will be correct!

The goal of Y2K prevention software projects was not to fix everything and be absolutely positively 100% Y2K-compliant -- systems people knew they'd never catch every Y2K problem. The goal of Y2K software projects was to remediate enough software so the "repair teams" could handle any unforeseen problems or new bugs created during Y2K remediation without being overwhelmed. Every decision to fix-on-failure adds potential workload to the "repair teams" who will probably be busy enough fixing bugs in software that had already been remediated and was believed to be Y2K-ready. I worry more about organizations who have done nothing or are frequently using a fix-on-failure strategy than organizations who have tried to find-and-fix Y2K problems are not yet done.

Could someone explain the "Paul Milne" remark in the post? Does this mean "Mr. Software" is secretly making Y2K preparations at home based on how poorly his own Y2K project is progressing and how his company is covering up that fact?

-- Richard Greene (, December 10, 1999.


Not to belabor Ed's point, but many corporate executives are VERY, VERY good at lying. Not to sound paranoid about it, but I would suggest that your division's lead software guru keep a paper trail just in case he winds up called to the stand in some future case. You can be damned sure that if the executives find themselves in potential trouble, they'd have no qualms whatsoever about stringing him up from the nearest flagpole.

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), December 10, 1999.

That is consistant with nearly every Y2K project manager I have spoken with dating back to '97. In fact, Ed, as you know, during the DCI conferences of '97 and '98, that was the #1 complaint of the conference attendees (the disconnect between IT and executive mgt.). And most of these attendees were from fortune 500 companies. Jeff Jinnett will be busy this coming year.

-- for real (, December 10, 1999.

For Richard Greene; The Paul Milne remark was meant to say that despite his best efforts, our division's IS man sees that we aren't going to be able to stand against the tide. He's done all he can from his end of the chain. We're gonna get swamped by external failures affecting our systems and by internal failures of systems not under his control.

We have the normal dependency on power, water, sewer and phones. We have contract computer support from as far away from our New York location as Florida and Minnesota. And the embedded systems are not part of the IS empire. They're property of the using departments; facilities, engineering, production and test.

These departments are lead by people who know that our products are Y2K compliant and assume that all the manufacturing and test equipment is too. WRONG!!!!

I agree with the assessment I heard today; "I have absolutely no confidence that we're going to make it." Now whether things will be recoverable, or if the fact we're currently on the auction block with the corporation looking for a sucker, errr, ah, ummm, buyer for this fine corporate asset is a real sign of the true status of our division.

Time will tell.


-- Wildweasel (, December 10, 1999.

Non-techs, pay attention, you're getting the real deal here. Note the following, replicated all over the world --

The software guys really care. They want to fix stuff. They fix it even when they could "get away" with not fixing it because management doesn't want to know and they aren't going to be rewarded for being internal whistle blowers.

Even when their stuff is FIXED, they're preparing up the wazoo for Y2K.

Think about that and what it implies about what they "know" about their own orgs and corporations. Three weeks to go. Finish your preps.

-- BigDog (, December 10, 1999.

Se the following post for another real life expereince:

-- Dave (, December 11, 1999.

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