y2k countdown: Beyond Testing: Between Now and Then

When I travel, I trust that each flight and all its related support activities will make my trip as uneventful as possible. In fact, the entire flight – from gate to gate -- should be as tranquil as a limo ride.

The aviation industry has generally proven this to be true, largely due to the extensive testing, coordinated efforts and skills of each person in the mammoth flight and ground networks. I suggest to you that your Y2K projects should go through such rigorous steps.

Testing is form of risk assessment and minimization that plays a key role in reporting on your company’s own Y2K remediation efforts.

Regardless of your chosen method to Y2K compliance, testing will be a big part of your life. Some estimates say that as much as 70 percent of the Y2K effort is tied into testing. Such high estimates should not put fear in your hearts since testing, at this point in time, cannot be a waterfall process but rather a parallel process. It will be distributed across everything from inventory and impact analysis to remediation and finally into its own test-only phase as you take your final steps toward compliance.

However, the way you test Y2K projects will be different from any other project you have undertaken in your career.

From the beginning, testing must be a carefully planned process integrated into every stage of your Y2K-compliance effort.

Testing processes should follow your enterprise Business Impact Analysis (BIA) findings. Remember that the objective is to mirror your business activities as they are today and continue in the same manner into the new century. Avoid all temptations to add function now since there is no time.

It is at this point that your company’s executives must take their bearings and determine which areas of operation have the highest “must work by what date” to avoid fatal failures. While executives focus on these areas daily and are the best ones to make such evaluations, become a super sleuth and look for all those data entry reinfection points. Also give some thought to standard date, conversion and test routines.

Testing will be different for upgrades, replacement systems and those repaired by expansion, windowed or encapsulation techniques. While the addition or subtraction of testing elements varies with the compliance method selected, testing tools remain a worthy value.

Whenever possible, consider a second system for testing since it reduces the risk for errors. However, if you are only using a single system, a quality date simulation tool is one of the musts.

Another tool to consider is a data comparator that automates the comparison between the baseline and processed resolutions of the aged transactions. These tools are friends for your eyes and increase accuracy and throughput with their rapid automated validations. You can also add, record and play capture tools for interactive transaction repeatability.

And finally, building test beds is an important way to validate your efforts. Early in the testing phase, test with limited samples vs. full or large database tests since errors will be discovered and reruns required. Big databases take a lot more time to reload after repairing the error in data or logic.

Testing is a must to make all 2000 dates just as uneventful as any dates before it. Invoking parallel testing and conversion tasks reduces the impact of undetected errors to a minimum.

Matching your choice of test tools to the Y2K-compliance method selected is an important step in improving productivity and saving valuable time.

A Free Present

Yes, it is a screen saver countdown clock/calendar and one of the few free things in this whole Y2K quagmire. Its purpose is to remind us that Y2K date horizons are coming upon us sooner then we wish. What's the catch? I'd like to know what you have done thus far and what interests you for the future.

If you would like a copy, e-mail me your address and contact information (no phone messages please).

Glenn Ericsn has worked in the MIS area for over 37 years. After completing a successful 32-year career with IBM, he formed Phoenix Consulting (East Elmhurst, NY). For the last several years, he has concentrated his efforts on year 2000 solutions and tools, the issues that revolve around MIS and the external infrastructures. GlennEricson@att.net