Survey: As Companies Lag, They Brace for the Worst

Statistics have shown time and again that even in the best-managed IT shops, up to 50 percent of software projects tend to come in late. That's why it's not surprising that about half of major corporations report they are falling behind in their Year 2000 work.

This is borne out in a recent survey conducted by Cap Gemini America LLC (New York), which has been tracking Y2K compliance since 1996. Last December, 74 percent of large companies expected to have more than half of their code "completely tested and compliant" by January 1 of this year. However, the most recent tracking poll reveals that only 55 percent actually reached this goal. Expectations about making the Year 2000 deadline appear to be lowering as well. The percentage of firms expecting to have more than 76 percent of their code "completely tested and compliant by December 31, 1999" has decreased from 88 percent in a survey last August to 78 percent in the most recent poll.

The survey finds that companies are hedging their bets and bracing for major systems crisis during the century rollover. With deadlines being missed, 85 percent report they are planning to build Year 2000 command or crisis management centers. Only 40 percent had such plans in December. "Corporations are mobilizing for potential disruptions as they race to upgrade and test their systems," says Jim Woodward, senior vice president of Cap Gemini America and head of its TransMillennium Services group.

Y2K disruptions are already taking place, the survey finds. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of those surveyed have already experienced a Year 2000-related failure, up from 55 percent in the previous quarter and 44 percent six months ago. Most failures (93 percent) caused financial miscalculations.

Companies aren't trusting the new code they put into production, either. About 80 percent of the firms are using independent verification and validation techniques to check the quality of renovated code, up from 62 percent in the previous quarter and only 16 percent six months ago. Woodward reports that almost 10 percent of the remediated code his firm evaluates still has date-related issues.

At this point, larger companies are clamping down on non-compliant vendors as well. Eighty-seven percent of respondents indicate they do not intend to do business with non-compliant suppliers and partners -- up from 69 percent six months earlier.