y2k countdown: A Belated Gift from the 1998 Closing

What a wonderful time of year. The all too stressful shopping season is finally over and we are still basking in the glow of the holidays and a well deserved rest after the challenges of 1998.

As you return to your labors of technology, there is an extraordinary gift waiting you for -- and it's not the still unopened fruitcake in the break room. All you have to do with this gift is to make use of all it has to offer.

For the last time before the Year 2000 arrives, you have the opportunity to gather real baseline test data from an actual year-end closing. So don't be so fast to clean out that 1998 data. Carefully gather the data so that your testing can be a fully repeatable process before, after and against your key business data, dates and Year 2000 milestones.

In my Nov. 30 article on testing several key points were discussed that also apply to the year-end 1998 opportunity that is now upon us. The year-end closing offers us several resources like second systems for testing, building test beds and baseline databases, testing tools, record/play/capture, date simulators, data agers, data comparitors, etc.

Consider carefully saving everything related to the 1998 year-end processing cycle. This includes:

  • Baseline files/databases before and after year-end transaction processing. If to you want to get more granular, consider doing this after each key step.
  • Transaction files that update them.
  • For interactive terminal keyed input (Capture/replay).
  • Output files and print spool files.

Using the aforementioned tools and data collected in this manner permits equivalent test result comparisons of databases and reports. Besides illustrating your level of success or yards to go, where else might this process and its documentation be helpful?

Certainly, one could establish such test beds for quarterly, monthly, weekly, or whatever cycle is important to your business. Data aging/simulation could show by business line what areas will fail and when. What an excellent case to set, test, or reset priorities for a positive earning of your Y2K "Wings of Durability" badge. You could even attach a preventative value relative to business loss dollar costs by making changes to avoid the expected failures.

While the time and resources required for testing is enough to choke an elephant. It is critical to both the success of the project and quality assurance. Plus, it also feeds the areas of audits, contingency planing, internal and independent verifications. All these are ways to further minimize risk and promote a timely entry into the Year 2000 dating game. Depending on your industry or company needs, the degree of outside audit/verifications by independent experts will vary.

I am amazed that there are still lots of AS/400 users that have not started or proceeded seriously into the Y2K remediation effort. The AS/400's features and the Year 2000 tools and resources will be your best friends over the coming days. As the mother of all New Year's resolutions -- and one you must be faithful to, I urge you to start today and get this monkey off your back. Lets see if we can add some contingency planning as fallback in the near future.

While you do have options, you don't have lost of time.

Glenn Ericson 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. Glenn-Ericson@Att.Net