At this Point, Many Simply Giving Up on Y2K Testing

Many time-pressed companies are opting not to thoroughly test their Y2K-remediated systems, and are simply putting what they can right into production, a recent study concludes. A survey of 1,680 U.S. and European companies by Cap Gemini America (New York) finds that 40 percent of respondents do not plan to conduct "end-to-end" Year 2000 testing. Another 50 percent do not plan even testing involving business partners.

"The fight against the millennium challenge will go down to the wire, predicts Geoff Unwin, vice chairman of the executive board of Cap Gemini. "As costs increase, many organizations are working on ultra-tight deadlines with only half doing real-time testing before the Year 2000. Many others, meanwhile, have made absolutely no provision for business continuity measures and the impact of the failure of small businesses on supply chain."

Project timetables are now so tight that a three-month slippage -- not uncommon for IT projects -- would put a almost third of companies at risk, Cap Gemini concludes. This is a fact not lost on the upper echelons of corporate management, Unwin observes. "There is evidence that this year, the larger organizations have heeded the warnings and taken decisive action."

Plenty of money is flowing into Y2K fixes. Cap Gemini estimates that in the U.S. alone, $655 billion has already been allocated to Y2K, with most of this money (59 percent) going toward staffing, 22 percent toward software, 17 percent toward hardware, and two percent toward embedded chips. However, over the past six months, project cost estimates have risen by 20 percent, from $719 billion to $858 billion.

Just in case things don't work out, 98 percent of the large U.S. companies surveyed have adopted year 2000 contingency plans. More than three-fourths address potential failures in IT systems, while two out of three consist of identifying alternative business partners and suppliers. In the event that key trading partners experience severe Year 2000-related challenges, about half of the U.S. companies surveyed expect to suffer a slowdown in business.

"As we approach the final, 1999 lap of this race against time, there are three critical messages," says Unwin. "First, work must continue at an unremitting pace. Second, organizations must prioritize to ensure that, even if they cannot finish everything, they do complete work on their business-critical systems. Third, organizations must develop business continuity plans to cope with the very real danger that not everyone will complete the race in time."