Millennium Crunch: Three Cheers For The Victors! : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

By Leon A. Kappelman

With all due respect to the Monday-morning quarterbacks, conspiracy theorists, second-guessers, and those who can't appreciate a beautiful bouquet because a fallen petal consumes their attention, the IT profession deserves a combination of the Nobel Peace Prize, knighthood, and the Medal of Honor for the way it handled the year 2000 problem. We kicked the Y2K bug's butt, and we did it efficiently and effectively.

We did it so well, in fact, that we made it look easy to those who weren't paying attention anyway. It can be called an overnight success that was five years in the making. If you don't believe that Y2K was about real problems that needed to be solved and real risks that needed to be managed, you probably don't believe polio was real now that vaccination has all but eradicated that bug.

Judging by the way some Y2K teams have been treated, however, it's no wonder that many companies have high turnover and low loyalty among their IT workers. Billions of dollars were invested in gaining the knowledge these Y2K folks now have about how technology assets are used in their companies. It's a no-brainer to want to keep that kind of knowledge around.

Yet I'm amazed how many of these Y2K soldiers have expressed disappointment that their efforts were not acknowledged. "Not so much as a handshake," one wrote to me recently. The sad thing is that this chap knows more about his company's technology than the CIO, CFO, and CEO combined.

And then we have the post-victory waste warriors, who moan about how much their companies spent on Y2K preparations for a problem that never materialized. Even if their often-absurd assumptions are accurate--despite an abundance of facts to the contrary--Y2K was not only the largest but the most cost-effective and best-managed project in the often inglorious history of IT. Of course, if by "waste" all we mean is that Y2K was an opportunity to make other needed technology and business improvements, including getting rid of or upgrading legacy systems, that's not waste at all. We call that "taking advantage of the situation" and "progress."

Y2K remediation was about well-spent dollars--and not an especially large amount of them, either, when you consider Y2K expenditures as a percentage of total IT monies over the five or so years in which they were spent. Y2K will account for 8% to 12% of total IT spending from 1996 to 2000, or about 1.5% to 2.5% per year.

Besides, Y2K was a bargain, even if we got nothing more than the "soft" benefits that accrued to almost everyone involved--the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that IT pros, management, users, auditors, attorneys, and even the public learned about how we depend on IT and how to do IT better (and still be on time). And we know we got plenty more than that (see "Lessons Learned From Y2K," Sept. 27, 1999).

So I say three cheers for the IT soldiers who actually solved the problems, and the managers who gave them the resources to do so, and the media, lawyers, stockholders, and regulators who let them know they'd kick their butts if they didn't get the job done. Well, they got the job done, and darn well, too.

Y2K was a historical watershed. Everyone in the business community now knows that IT counts. They also know how to communicate more effectively about IT, from both sides of the monitor. Equally important, new standards have been set for cooperation and communication, and new mechanisms established to facilitate them.

Y2K was a symptom of the underlying quality and management problems in IT.

So as we clean up the remaining Y2K problems, staying ever-vigilant about the Y2K bug and all other system risks, it's time to make sure we keep the benefits gained from Y2K while learning from our errors, as we move onward and upward to figure out how to use these remarkable technologies to their fullest potential.

By taming the Y2K monster, we have proved that we can accomplish great and difficult things together. My hope is that this is just the beginning.

Leon A. Kappelman is associate director of the Center for Quality and Productivity at the University of North Texas, and co-chairman of the Society for Information Management's Year 2000 Working Group. Reach him at

-- Cherri (, February 07, 2000


Can this be the same guy, a Flying Piggie Award winner, that Doc Paulie wrote about to Marianne Michaels?

". . .Kappleman is a nobody severly infected with the meme. He has not the sense to keep his mouth shut and is representative of a know-nothing jerk with a degree. Zero real world experience about sums it up on Leon the Loser. He suffers from a similar affliction Yourdon does, the 'love me' complex."

". . .Piggys. . . represent what some of us here think is the utter stupidity displayed by the doom-gurus. The embodiment of shitty thinking. Anyone who has been around these characters long enough knows they are many bottles short of a twelve pack. You cannot reason with-em, logically understand them, or hope to get anything from them but dribble similar types are put into 'wards' for."

How's your very own forum going, Cherri?

-- Is he (okay@or.not?), February 07, 2000.

Let's not shoot the messenger. The sentiments expressed I think are valid and I, for one, appreciate what was done.

Notwithstanding the oil problems, airline accidents, natural gas and water pipeline problems, and other myriad snafus which may or may not be Y2K related, I think with what we had staring us down they did a remarkable job.

The only way one could not agree with this is if they thought there never was a chance for TEOTWAWKI. There have been no cascading cross defaults in the banking system. etc etc. Most of us have not experienced an inconvenience, yet, due to Y2K.

We may all get blown up by the chinese, or crushed if and when bursts, or any other disaster, man-made or natural, but the fact remains that most of the truly terrible stuff which had been predicted has not had-no matter how many say it is coming, you know, really, really soon now..........2/29/2000, 3/31/2000, 12/31/2000...................

-- futureshock (gray@matter.think), February 07, 2000.

My husband's company must be excceptional--he got a healthy retroactive raise due in part to his successful completion of a last-minute Y2K remediation project. It helps make up for the late nights, weekends and lost sleep he contributed. An aside--nobody was more amazed than he when his project worked perfectly on the Thursday before rollover. I doubt he was the only amazed remediator out there.

-- Old Git (, February 07, 2000.

Cherri -

How 'bout a link for this? I want to forward it to senior management and encourage them to recognize all the folks 'round here who worked so hard for so long (including New Year's Weekend) to ensure an uneventful January 3.

-- DeeEmBee (, February 07, 2000.

Three Cheers for the Victors

-- Old Git (, February 07, 2000.

Totally agree with the congratulations to all the hard working IT professionals. Without them we would be witnessing many more y2k related failures. Hope their work holds up and endures the test of time....

-- Carl Jenkins (, February 07, 2000.

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